Avcon Industries (Booth H1200), a Newton, Kansas-based aircraft modification company, sees lots of opportunity for its special-mission business in China and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It’s why the subsidiary of Butler National, for the second consecutive year, is exhibiting at ABACE.
Demand is particularly strong in the region for aircraft equipped with mapping capabilities, Avcon officials said, and they hope to build upon that as well as other types of special-mission business there. China and APAC have accounted for as much as 45 percent of Avcon’s annual business the past few years, company officials said, but it typically varies between 15 percent and 45 percent annually.
“It’s about relationship building,” Avcon business development, certification, and project manager Jeff Tung told AIN about the company’s appearances at ABACE. Tung, who speaks fluent Mandarin, represented Avcon at ABACE in 2018 and is here again this year.
The 40-employee company founded in the early 1970s specializes in structural airframe modifications and performance enhancements for clients including individual owner/operators, government contractors, and foreign military services. Those modifications and enhancements are primarily adding equipment—cameras, sensors, infrared turrets—and structures such as hardpoints, underwing stores, and pods to aircraft that are mostly a variety of models of Beechcraft King Airs, Learjets, Cessna Citations, and Bombardier Challengers. The special-mission aircraft it modifies are used for a variety of purposes, including mapping; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); and search and rescue (SAR).
Avcon president Marcus Abendroth told AIN the company owns more than 280 supplemental type certificates “with new STCs in development all the time.” On average, Avcon develops six to 12 new STCs a year, he said.
Based at Newton City/County Airport in a four-hangar complex, Avcon designs and manufactures most parts (both simple and complex) for the STCs it develops at its on-site machine shop that’s equipped with computer-numerically controlled machines. “We do very little outsourcing other than a few processes” such as heat treating, Abendroth said. Avcon has FAA parts manufacturer approval as well as its own engineering staff, some of whom are designated engineering representatives and designated airworthiness representatives.
Avcon also specializes in electrical and avionics integration, sometimes working with its sister company, Butler Avionics in New Century, Kansas. Both companies are subsidiaries of Olathe, Kansas-based Butler National.