Creedmoor, NC, Jan 31, 2012 – When Mike Benike joined Twin Commander Aircraft in August 2011 as Quality Manager, it marked a return to his passion—aviation—that he acquired maintaining F/A-18 Hornets during a 12-year career in the Marine Corps. It also marked his return to Twin Commanders. His first job as a civilian after leaving the military in 1997 was working on Twin Commanders at The Service Center, now known as Valair, an authorized Twin Commander service center in Bethany, Oklahoma.
As Twin Commander Aircraft’s new Quality Manager, Benike is responsible for managing the people and process in which vendor-produced replacement parts and upgrade kits are inspected to ensure that the part or parts conform to the FAA-approved type design data for the applicable aircraft model. According to Benike, that inspection is vital to providing the safest, highest quality replacement hardware to the fleet.
He says he chooses to take an active role to ensure appropriate inspection devices are available and used to validate drawing characteristics. For such things as electric wiring and rubber parts, the inspection involves validating that the supplier provided material test reports that meet the current engineering requirements, verses an actual mechanical validation.
After the physical inspection, the part is accepted into stock and kept in secure storage until ordered by a service center for use on a customer airplane.
If one of his inspectors discovers a part that does not meet required standards, Benike works with Twin Commander’s engineering group to resolve the issue. Determining root cause and implementing a positive corrective action to eliminate future nonconformances is a top priority.
“I am very fortunate to walk into a well-established quality system employing top-notch inspection professionals,” Benike says. “My job is to focus on supplier development, enabling our operational flow to be maintained; take care of problems; and allow the inspectors to do their job well. Product safety starts at the receiving level,” he adds, “so I am always looking for continuous improvement opportunities to make that job more efficient. Promoting quality awareness, positive communication, and industry best practices are all integral parts needed to sustain a healthy inspection system.”
Benike brings a breadth of hands-on and management experience and training to the role of Quality Manager. In addition to maintaining F/A-18s, Twin Commanders, and the Gulfstream GIV and GV, he has re-skinned fabric-covered aircraft, restored warbirds, and maintained a flight-school fleet of light general aviation aircraft. He also has worked with major aerospace manufacturers to develop and administer quality standards and manufacturing and inspection processes.
He comes to Twin Commander from a position in Quality Engineering at a large aerospace company. Although Twin Commander Aircraft is about one-eighth the size of his previous employer, Benike considers it “a great place to work. It’s a great group of people,” he says, “and I’m blessed with the opportunity to promote my experience. I intend to build off the legacy that has been established here, and keep moving forward.”