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New Horizons

Robert Duncan on the Future of MRO

The Duncan Aviation icon looks ahead after six decades in business aviation.

MRO pioneer Robert Duncan, now chairman emeritus of Duncan Aviation, has been a part of the ever-changing business aviation environment for more than 60 years. A John P. “Jack” Doswell Award honoree and recipient of industry lifetime achievement awards, Duncan has seen the aviation industry retract and grow, adapting to new technologies, business models and economic conditions.

“My view of the industry is very bright,” said Duncan. “COVID led to a number of new users and demand is strong, both domestically and internationally.”

Although Duncan acknowledged some economic adjustment might occur in the U.S. in the next several months, Duncan Aviation is prepared to adapt to those changes, just as it did in 2008 and 2020.

Workforce development is a particular concern. To help mitigate that, Duncan Aviation started a hands-on and classroom apprenticeship program that has received certification from the Department of Labor and Veterans Administration. Successful completion results in an A&P certificate.

“The people side is our number one challenge,” said Duncan. “We need more schools teaching aviation programs and we need to make it more attractive to young people.”

In fact, Duncan Aviation actively supports regional high schools, especially those with aviation programs.

Internally, the company is leaning into sustainability with a paint facility in Provo, Utah, which capitalizes on the latest technology to ensure the cleanest paint processes.

“UAS and eVTOL operations will see huge growth, eventually providing safer and more efficient transportation systems – if we trust the systems.”

UAS and eVTOL operations will see huge growth in the future, Duncan said, “eventually providing safer and more efficient transportation systems if we trust the systems. We have the technology.

“As companies and as an industry, we have to be forward thinking. Innovation is an important part of what Duncan Aviation is and we will continue this tradition,” said Duncan.

The company’s greatest accomplishment, he said, is best demonstrated by its Silver Wings Club. Membership now tops 500 employees and retirees with 25 years or more at Duncan Aviation.

During J. ROBERT DUNCAN’S six decades at Duncan Aviation, the Nebraska-based company has become one of the world’s largest family-owned business aviation organizations, providing maintenance, repair and overhaul, along with sales and support services for more than 18,000 customers around the globe.

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