Congratulations Mather Aviation! 2023's Top Gun Winner

Mather Aviation was founded by Victor Cushing with a vision to concentrate on delivering high-quality service to discriminating aircraft owners. Their reputation for customer-service excellence and maintenance expertise extends far beyond northern California. Starting out with only a few people in a small shop in Rancho Murieta in the early years, Mather Aviation has grown into a family of many dozens of great people and tens-of-thousands of square feet in two northern California cities; plus mobile operations serving much of the west coast.

The Team

John Freitas is the Avionics Manager at Mather Aviation. John got his original training from the US Army back in 2000 but didn’t get into General Aviation again until around 2013. He was hired as an Avionics Technician for Skytrek Aviation, and within 15 months, was the Avionics Manager/Technician and doing all of his work solo. John continued to do all of this by himself until early 2019, when Skytrek Aviation hired another person to help, just so happened to be John’s younger brother, Robert Jackson.  Together, John and his brother worked under Skytrek’s repair station doing mostly upgrades on GA aircraft like radios and transponders until around September, when they became a part of the Mather Aviation family. After a little adjusting period, best way John can put it is like this: “the gloves are off!” Mather Aviation started getting bigger, more detailed installations. Full panel upgrades including autopilots as well as starting to get bigger airframes to work on. Mather Aviation is still just a 2-man crew for Avionics, but they also have the full support of our talented Mechanics here as well. John told us that “Looking back on it, after the growth we have seen over the last 4 and a half years, I am excited to see where we can go.”

John Freitas

Robert Jackson and John Freitas of Mather Aviation

The Job

King Air C90

This 1982 Beechcraft King Air C90, N11SN, came to Mather Aviation originally with a Sperry SPZ-200 Autopilot issue. After some time troubleshooting with the manufacturer it was decided the best course was to upgrade the system. By the end of the discussion, they ended up going with a G600 Txi 10-inch display for the Pilot, a 7-inch display for the Copilot, Dual GTN 750 Xi, Remote GMA 35, GDL 69A for XM weather, GWX 75 Radar, GI-275 as standby Instrument, Dual GSB 15, and GFC 600 4 Servo Autopilot to accompany the existing Remote GTX 335 and 345. We have installed a similar avionics panel upgrade in a Beechcraft Baron.

The Details

This turned out to be quite an undertaking. John scheduled this out to be around 4 months to complete, and it took just a little over 4 and a half. This airframe was completely gutted of all interiors, including the headliner and flooring to accommodate the removal/install of new antennas and the install/removal of wiring. As for the currently installed avionics, John and his brother had to remove all associated wiring for all of the older Collins Proline systems and displays, and the Sperry autopilot servos and attaching framework. They ended up with 2 55-gallon trash bins FULL of wiring that was removed from the aircraft and a 6-foot-tall cabinet of equipment. The new installation was mostly interfaced via HSDB, so there is much less wiring to put back into the aircraft. From its correlated traffic from the TAS and GTX 345 ADS-B In, to the new digital weather radar along with XM weather and audio, the digital autopilot with a custom new panel, and upgraded avionics systems, this aircraft got a good boost in safety for the passengers and situational awareness for the pilot.

John also mentioned “All installs require a list of needed parts and in the customers best interest, I build up a list of the ‘best sourced’ parts and get an order quoted for the install. Many places have minimum order quantity requirements, and you cannot get just 4 washers or one bolt. So, imagine how I felt when I stumbled across Aviation Design and Supply (ADS) and saw that they were doing GFC install ‘Kits’. Upon speaking to Jaramey Ham, his explanation could not have been more convenient when he said it is all the items and quantities that are on the best sourced list, in one convenient package and price.

Even more convenient was this airframe was just recently put on to the STC for approval and they already had the kits available. The kit came within one week of placing the order. It arrived in one large bag, with all the different items individually packaged with easy to read and removable labels. This setup not only saved us a lot of money for the products, the kit was only $450, and sourcing elsewhere would have been over $1,300 not including the shipping charges, but it saved us a lot of time as well. The install kit made this extensive install it much faster and easier than it would have been. The amount of time and money that was saved on hardware and shipping was incredible. I appreciate their attention to detail; for example, the rivets. ADS included the average size that you would use, and a size up and below with plenty to spare. They even had some parts included that were not listed on the “best sourced” list but were required. All in all, from now on I am going to be purchasing these Install Kits from ADS for every GFC autopilot install I do.

Since I liked the way that their Install Kit worked, and with the intensity of the interfacing that is going on with the install, I went ahead and tried out their ADS Prints Engineering Services as well. The process was simple and straightforward. I gave them a list of what was removed, what was going in, and a copy of the original prints. With a couple of back-and-forth questions, ADS provided me with an amazing set of high quality, easy to follow prints that will go in the aircraft’s permanent records for future installs and or troubleshooting. The professionalism and quality of the products and services offered by ADS on just this one job, has secured me as a customer for all the future installs that I have going forward.”

In Summary

John Freitas and Mather Aviation have proven to be the “Best of the Best” and have earned the 2023 ADS Top Gun Award for their meticulous attention to detail, the intricacy of their work, and the impressive final outcome. They will receive our ADS replica Top Gun trophy, vouchers for an ADS Kit, and a set of ADS Prints. The award presentation is scheduled to take place at the 67th Annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Dallas. Congratulations to John Freitas and the Mather Aviation team for achieving the distinction of being 2023’s TOP GUN!



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