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SimsAir was born in 1996 out of the necessity to survive.  As a young pilot and an A & P mechanic in Houston’s Corporate Aviation Scene I thought I was on top of the world, or at least it seemed that way.  The company I flew and preformed maintenance for sold the plane and dumped me on the street faster than you could ever imagine.  It happens to a lot of pilots but you sure feel like you’re the only one who has experienced it at the time.

Flying Cessna 421’s and 414’s for $10 per flight hour is how I put food on the table for my wife and I (we were 4 months pregnant and she was laid off from work just prior to me).  Trying to appeal to Houston’s Contract Pilot Scene now, I conceived a business name (SimsAir) and pounded on every flight dept’s door I could find.  Ultimately, keeping my nose to the grind stone paid off.  I found a few companies who not only gave me work, but an opportunity to fly and gain experience in larger equipment.  These initial and short lived relationships help me gain experience and earn opportunities that are the foundation of SimsAir today.

The Piaggio Avanti is a common aircraft seen all across the United States today. When I started flying the aircraft back in 1999, there were only five in North America and Piaggio was bankrupt.  I felt like a King everywhere I went, everyone wanted to see this strange looking airplane that looked more like a cross between the Space Shuttle and a pregnant Cat Fish than anything else.  This also led to the opportunity to put the aircraft on a Part 135 Charter Certificate (which I also happened to be the Chief Pilot for).  This marked the first time in the United States this had happened.  Already being a King Air 200 pilot and FAA designated Check Airmen I knew what the FAA was going to want to see from me as a pilot.  I wrote a Part 135 Training Program and literally trained myself with the use of safety pilots to pass the Part 135 Check Ride, my training record was very short. 

To be fair, the FAA insisted the Inspector have a little knowledge on the aircraft before he gave me a check ride.  So we arranged two days of ground school and 2 hours of flight training (which I gave to him).  At the completion of the flight training we fueled the aircraft then swapped seats and he gave me my Part 135 check ride.  I must say…….What a Great Time We had!

Shortly after my Part 135 qualification in the Piaggio I gained Check Airmen authority, please keep in mind I am still the only pilot qualified on this type.  My Principal Operations Inspector (POI) with the FAA had to recheck me for Check Airmen authority in the King Air(2 year requirement) but hadn’t flown in the Piaggio before…..Thus the first Piaggio FAA Designated Check Airmen is born.

I also worked with the FAA during this period re-writing all of the Part 135 Manuals for an operator in the Houston area (Operations, Training, MEL’s, etc.) and producing  them in an electronic format (PDF) for distribution on CD.  All of the manuals (except for the aircraft) were on CD.  Thus I was the first in the FAA’s Southwest Region to submit and get approval on these documents in electronic format.

 

Along with opportunities in flying, I received them in maintenance as well.  Managing large corporate jets (or any aircraft for that matter) for companies requires a strong knowledge of the airplane not only as an investment, but as piece of equipment that must be available and operational at all times.  This being said, I maintain myself as a factory qualified mechanic to.  This improves our dispatch reliability by allowing me to make informed decisions on maintenance issues as well as safety of flight issues.

 

Experiences, opportunities, hard work and dedication are what allow SimsAir to offer a powerful and robust product while still being a small company. 

 

Resume for Donald Sims