A Passion for Parts

With a career spanning more than 23 years in the aviation industry, Fred Koch has made a home at J&B Aviation.


Q. How did you get involved in the industry?

A. I was with Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a senior mechanical engineer when United Airlines in San Francisco advertised for an open engineering position in their ground support engineering group at SFO. For 13 years I was involved with 400Hz design, PCAir, energy management, APU reduction and many other programs to help reduce United’s operating expenses. Over the past 10 years I have been with J&B Aviation Services in both sales and engineering and I am currently their national sales manager.

Q. What are some of the major trends you have seen developing over the past decade?

A. I have seen our customer base change substantially over the past decade. With the growing trend toward local ownership of the airport equipment our customer base of traditional airline customers have changed and diversified to many city and county owned and operated facilities. I now call on many airport authorities, FBO’s and airline and airport consultants who make most of the purchasing decisions.

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced over the years?

A. Some of the major challenges I have seen in our industry are the increase in fuel pricing, 9/11 security issues, domestic airlines going bankrupt and the changing environmental landscape. All of these items require either massive airline or airport funding and that requirement ultimately stretches their operating budgets to the limit that affects other programs needed to update their daily operations.

Q. What do you favor most about working in this industry?

A. I value the relationships and friendships that I have made throughout the years. Ultimately I guess it is the people in this industry that I enjoy the most.

Q. What changes would you like to see made in the industry?

A. I have noticed more and more of the purchasing decisions being made based solely on the initial price with little or no regard for life cycle cost or the quality of the product. J&B Aviation’s reputation has been one of producing quality products that provide a long life, reduce out of service time and minimize manpower intervention to keep the daily operation going. With so many of the experts in the industry leaving their positions, products are slipping into the industry with little or no engineering involved and therefore no accountability for the performance of the product once it goes into service. I would like to see the industry make more of a long term commitment to quality products that preserve the precious capital for the airline and airport end-users.

Q. What advice would you give to those new to the industry?

A. We all function in a very small industry and over time everyone finds out what truly happened and how it was ultimately resolved. It is no secret that as a society we are getting much better about sharing information and educating the people!

Q. Who do you admire?

A. Having been in management for United Airlines in the GSE/facilities group, I admire everyone in our industry that is now doing so much more with so much less. As we all know, the airplane ( aircraft maintenance, flight crews, fuel and operations ) is king — and the GSE/facilities groups and to some extent their suppliers, are typically viewed as overhead or a necessary evil . Almost all of the GSE/facilities groups today continue to see their operating budgets and manpower cut during every review process, yet find their job responsibilities and equipment liabilities steadily increasing. I respect all those who continue to be concerned for our industry and their belief in doing the best they can under the existing circumstances, hoping the industry rights itself.

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. Fuel prices and homeland security.

Q. If not in GSE where would you be?

A. Although my passion is in the airline industry I may have pursued technical sales or product development/engineering or my interest in the boating industry.

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