It’s easy to lament the apparent waning public interest in aviation, but that’s a glass-half-empty view. Twin Commander Aircraft President Matt Isley and Engineering Manager Levan Tabidze recently met with a far more optimistic group of aspiring aviation professionals.
The occasion was an invitation by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the professional society for the field of aerospace engineering, for Isley and Tabidze to present at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, the fourth largest undergraduate engineering program in the country.
Some 50 junior and senior engineering students and faculty attended the presentation. AIAA chapter president Snehal Patel asked Isley and Tabidze to give insights on Twin Commander Aircraft’s business and role as a Type Certificate holder, and to offer some advice to young engineers preparing for a career in the aviation sciences.
Isley gave a brief description of the company, including the development and production history of the Twin Commander family of aircraft. He followed with an overview of Twin’s business strategy and discussed the important relationship between the company’s engineering group and the authorized service center partners.
“Twin Commander works closely with our service centers to be proactive regarding any safety issues in the fleet, and to provide the latest innovative products to aircraft owners and pilots,” Isley said. He gave several examples of that strategy, from providing fleet upgrades and issuing pertinent service letters, to managing the Grand Renaissance Commander upgrade program.
Tabidze spoke about “stars of the fleet” throughout the history of Twin Commanders, including the Commander U-4B that served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Air Force One and Bob Hoover’s Shrike Commander that is displayed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Tabidze spoke extensively about FAA involvement in the aircraft industry including the role, history, and mission of the Designated Engineering Representative. He gave a description of engineering work at Twin Commander Aircraft, citing examples such as the Weldon fuel pump replacement project, research and modifications to several key aircraft control components, Service Bulletin 241, and the recent icing research project.
A lively question and answer session followed the presentation. “It was great to see so many young people excited about a future in aviation,” Isley said. “I can’t help but think that somewhere in the lives of these students, someone got them interested in aviation, and that interest blossomed into a field of study and an entire career. It was heartening to see the enthusiasm in the room. I hope the field proves to be as rewarding for them as it has for us all at Twin Commander.”
Isley concluded the presentation with some advice to the students. “In your first job, start out right away to become an expert at SOMETHING, something meaningful to your company no matter how small that something is. Then grow that knowledge into something bigger. Rinse and repeat.”