Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Elliott Aviation gives avionics system facelift to planes (With Photo Gallery)

Elliott Aviation is proving that you can still breathe some new life into an old airplane. 

This month, the company located at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline, will install its 90th new Garmin G1000 avionics suite in one of the many airplanes that fly in from all around the world for a facelift.

Garmin, known for making GPS systems found in vehicles, has been getting into the avionics field over the past few years, said Rich Baeder, general manager and vice president of Elliott Aviation.

Baeder said the company prides itself on its relationship with Garmin and its ability to be a leader in a highly competitive market.

“Our clients fly to Moline from all over the world,” Baeder said Tuesday. “Because we’re centrally located, they frequently have to fly over our competitors to get here.”

On Tuesday, Baeder gave the media and members of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce a tour of the facility and insight into the G1000 system.

The three-panel display system fully integrates communication, GPS navigation, collision avoidance systems and auto-pilot systems.

Elliott Aviation became one of the first authorized dealers in 2008 and has installed more G1000 systems than any other dealer in the world, Baeder said.

Baeder said G1000 is a “much cleaner instrument panel” that’s a lot easier for the flight crews to use and gives them 10 times the technical capabilities than they had with the older panels.

“It gives (pilots) a lot more ability to see what’s going on around them in the sky,” Baeder said.

The panel also has some other nice perks, such as XM radio, Baeder said.

Baeder said that replacing the old system with the G1000 also makes the aircraft about 200 pounds lighter, which allows pilots to carry more.

The system has become increasingly popular as it has become expensive to replace older equipment, which sometimes can’t be repaired, Baeder said.

From start to finish, it takes workers about 15 business days to install the system. Baeder said it typically costs $350,000 for the system itself and costs between $335,000 and $340,000 to install.

The quick turnaround time is why clients from all over the world make the trip to the Quad-Cities to have the system installed or other work done, Baeder said.

Elliott Aviation, founded in 1936 by Herb and Arlene Elliott, provides technical support for aircraft, as well as purchasing, refurbishing and reselling aircraft all over the world.

It also is a factory-authorized service center for all lines of Hawker and Beechcraft aircraft and the only independently owned Hawker authorized service center east of the Rocky Mountains.

The company now employs 240 full-time workers and expects to grow to nearly 300 employees in the next two years.

The company is planning at $1.8 million expansion that will add 50 jobs. The plans include turning a nearby hangar into an aircraft jet maintenance center that also will provide extra storage for the company, Baeder said.

In the past few years, the company has added a paint completions facility, design center and an accessory shop to complete landing gear overhauls.

Earlier this year, the company received a huge break from Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed a law exempting Elliott Aviation from paying property taxes.

In response, the Moline-Coal Valley School District has filed suit against Quinn and other state and local officials to challenge the law. The Coal Valley Fire Protection District also said it plans to intervene in the suit.

The company is not named in the suit.

Baeder has said that the tax break helps the company compete against other competitors that already have a tax-exempt status in other states.

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