Photo Gallery | Harriman-West Airport in North Adams has role in regional growth
NORTH ADAMS — Anyone in the Northeast looking for some routine maintenance, or even unexpected replacement parts, for their private jets are likely to be flying to their favorite repair shop at Harriman-and-West Airport.
Turboprop East handles aircraft maintenance, avionics, hydrostatic testing and accessory needs for turboprop planes manufactured by King Air, Citation and Piaggio.
They can handle small corporate jets from 10,000 to 24,000 pounds, according to Mark Candiloro, president of Turboprop East.
The business was first established as Sprague Electric's flight department to service its fleet of aircraft in 1968. In the mid-1970s, Candiloro noted, the shop started working on planes for outside customers. When Sprague shut down the flight operation in 1985, it was sold to Turboprop International, which operated until 1995 when Harry Patten bought it.
"Patten had known the guys here for years because he was a customer," Candiloro said.
He still does. Many of the aircraft technicians have been working there for 30 years or more.
"He didn't want to see all the guys lose their jobs, so he came in and bought the company," Candiloro added.
For years, Turboprop East has been drawing clients in from around the Northeast, sometimes further.
"One of the most successful businesses we have in this neck of the woods is Turboprop East," said Joseph Thompson, director of Mass MoCA, who flies out of Harriman-and-West periodically. "There's a constant flow of large business aircraft that come into North Adams for work at Turboprop East. There are quite a few highly skilled aircraft technicians living here that wouldn't be if it weren't for Turboprop East."
Candiloro said the technicians are highly trained, highly skilled and certified in a number of aircraft maintenance fields.
As a result, "we've developed some long-standing relationships with our customers — we have a very loyal customer base," he said. "For the planes' owners, it's comforting to know someone is working on your plane who knows what they're doing."
He noted that Turboprop East handles about 140 aircraft in a year, and that a heavily traveled jet will spend two to three weeks for evaluation and maintenance. Some others only take "an hour or two."
"You make sure you're doing the preventative maintenance you need to make sure things are working — the goal is to never let the airplane break," Candiloro said. "There is no room for error, and there is lots of oversight."
Turboprop East employs 20 full-time technicians. It also sells jet fuel.
And it's no secret why the employees are so loyal, Candiloro noted.
"It's a great company to work for," he said. "[Patten] treats us really well and we love working in the Berkshires. It's always fun, it's always different, and you never know what's going to happen."