But by acting decisively, independently and then getting his troops to work late into the night and over the weekends, Greene plugged those holes without any schedule disruptions.
That episode served to remind me just how important the Tier 2, 3 and 4 suppliers are to the big guys. Operators (and editors, too) tend to focus their attention on airframe, engine, and avionics makers since their equipment represents the core of business aviation activity. But those products are assemblages of many parts made by others, and without suppliers like Cox Machine, ICE Corp., and hundreds of others, business aviation gets grounded.
Beyond that, it is often the small players who generate the big ideas and, in time, may become big themselves. Examples abound. Gary Burrell and Min Kao left Bendix/King in 1989 to exploit the government's Navstar positioning system. Garmin still does that, and a whole lot more. Not all that long ago, Burt Rutan made funky airplane kits; his latest kit is to take riders into space.
FltPlan.com, Redbird Flight Simulations and ForeFlight are just a few of the many small upstarts that are shaking things up, stimulating the community with new services, new equipment, and a new way of doing things.
The big outfits are essential for doing the big things — no upstart is going to create, certify and produce a Gulfstream 650, a Passport turbofan, or Pro Line Fusion flight deck, but that didn't stop little Aspen Avionics from creating its breakthrough Connected Panel.
Obviously, the importance of the small independent goes well beyond manufacturing. Service providers like Showalter Flying Service, Rudy's InFlight Catering, King Schools, and even Sporty's Pilot Shop, infuse the community with personality, passion, really clever thinking and, well, neat stuff.
James Raisbeck, founder of an eponymous engineering outfit known for its performance mods on King Airs, Learjets and other aircraft, has a special regard for outsized companies, which he likens to whales, namely: “No big corporation I've ever known invented a damn thing worth selling.” A bit over the top, but I see as his true point that small outfits are nimble, responsive, innovative and essential. And that is valid, generally.
To that view, Pete Bunce, the president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, is in agreement. He regards as “extremely important” business aviation's small suppliers. “A lot of the technology and innovation in the industry is pushed from the bottom,” he says.
With the foregoing in mind, industry and government need to concern themselves with the impact the years' long fiscal decline is having on all those small companies. When severe cutbacks come, big outfits tend to cut their small suppliers early. And yet we can't afford to let those small contributors go. The well being of the industry depends on them.