2022 AMT 40 Under 40 Maintenance Professionals: James Alexander McPherson, Program Manager, Fleet and Deployment Services, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

Aug. 11, 2022
James Alexander McPherson
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As the company-owned Fleet Sustainment Program Manager for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems – the OEM for the MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-9B SkyGuardian, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-1C Gray Eagle – James McPherson said his enjoyment comes from putting out new technology into the world.

“Although I am primarily maintenance focused, modification of aircraft is part of maintenance and I really enjoy not only putting out new technology into the world, but deploying it and then keeping it sustained. I think that’s really a cool job,” he continued.

McPherson’s duties see him making sure the fleet of aircraft has everything it needs to continue to operate.

“Spares, support equipment, tech manuals, betterments and upgrades to keep these aircraft up to date with what our government customers are experiencing. I’m also responsible for taking care of prototype, one of kind aircraft. As we build new aircraft from development efforts, you build a handful of 'one offs' while you mature the design for production,” he described.

Out of high school, McPherson joined the Navy, where he fell in love with aviation. “After signing the dotted line in the military, not really knowing what I was getting into, I kind of lucked out. I didn’t realize how much I would really enjoy this field,” he said. “I think it’s one of the few industries where you see a lot of dreams kind of come true. So, we start with kind of an idea and then we build the idea and then we get to tangibly see it go.”

McPherson has a master’s in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“Our technicians and mechanics are incredibly sophisticated individuals. Traditionally you think of the mechanic as a grease monkey, but nowadays they’re closer to engineers and sometimes more highly trained than that, just because these systems are so complex. I think that’s not really well appreciated. I think we think of a dirty mechanic crawling around and he’s probably not too bright, but the mechanics are really intelligent and highly skilled people. Without them, we wouldn’t have the near-perfect safety record in aviation that we have,” he said.