The GA Shop in Rural Europe

AMT visits Star Airservice in the Netherlands and notes similarities and differences

Star Airservice is located on Teuge Airport, a small general aviation (GA) airport in a rural part of the Netherlands, approximately 100 kilometers east of Amsterdam. It holds a European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) 145 authorization as a GA maintenance organization providing maintenance services for most single- and multi-engine general aviation (GA) aircraft, Robinson helicopters, and provides parts and equipment distribution representing several GA-related OEMs.

Partners Marc Westenberg and Erik Moen are the two principles of Star Airservice. I first met Westenberg in February while attending the Inspection Authorization (IA) renewal seminar at the FAA International Field Office (IFO) in Frankfurt, Germany. Along with his EASA Part 66 certificate as a ground engineer, he also holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate with an Inspection Authorization.

The reason for my visit was simple: to learn more about GA maintenance in Europe. It didn’t take long after arriving before we became immersed in conversation about similarities and differences between GA maintenance in Europe and the USA.

The day of my visit I found technicians busy with two Cessna 172 inspections and a Cessna 404 near the end of a lengthy Supplemental Structural Inspection Document (SSID) inspection program. Other aircraft filled the hangar and at first glance all appeared similar to any GA shop in the States. Then I noticed the first difference; most of the aircraft had registration numbers from a variety of different countries.

The aviation micro-community

Westenberg explains, “Aviation in Europe is kind of a micro-community. Currently we have aircraft in the shop with Dutch, Belgian, Austrian, and U.S. registration. Our EASA 145 certificate authorizes us to maintain aircraft registered by an EASA member state.” He went on to talk about the challenges sometimes encountered when working on aircraft from multiple countries, “Even though most of the work we accomplish is under the authority of EASA we still have to consider requirements from other National Aviation Authorities (NAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”

The staff consists of four technicians or ground engineers who hold EASA Part 66 certification and several others who are in the process of acquiring certification. Depending on workloads, two additional EASA Part 66 ground engineers who also hold an A&P/IA are called upon to assist.

Theo Hendricks was checking the magneto timing on a Cessna 172 and says, “I’ve been an aircraft mechanic all my life working on general aviation aircraft and on WWII aircraft restoration.” Hendricks holds an EASA Part 66 certification and has held an FAA A&P/IA certificate for 25 years.

Rubin Reitsma, one of the younger mechanics, explains, “I’ve been working as a mechanic for three years and soon plan to get my ground engineer certificate and my A&P.”

Westenberg says, “Having an FAA A&P/IA in Europe is important, whereas in the States few GA technicians have EASA Part 66 certificates. There are many aircraft that are owned and operated here in Europe that remain N-registered and we work on them often. We must have the A&P/IA and follow the FAA rules.”

Star Airservice participates with a Dutch aircraft maintenance school by providing a place for students to gain practical experience as part of the school’s internship program. Two of the mechanics are currently aircraft maintenance students. Students participate in their first internship program in year three of their studies, and then again in year four they participate in a longer internship period. Additionally, an internship slot for a trainee from MTU, a larger MRO based in Germany, is provided. This latest trainee is a young woman from Germany emphasizing the point that aviation in Europe has no borders.

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