Over the past couple of months, I had two exceptionally good experiences with aviation-related businesses, and one exceptionally bad one. As a service to my fellow owners, I’m going to name them all here.
- Cheer: Great Lakes Aero
- This company makes windows for light, unpressurized aircraft that are roughly triple the quality of the original manufacturers’ at a third the price. As if that weren’t enough, I bought a new windshield in May but didn’t get around to having it installed until December, when I found out that I’d bought the wrong thickness. No problem: Great Lakes was happy to take it back and give me a refund (minus a trivial restocking fee) and ship me a new one.
- Cheer: Sutton Aviation
- This won’t be of much interest unless you keep your plane near Ottawa, but this year Sutton Aviation at Rockcliffe Airport showed me that an annual inspection (and associated upgrades, rectifications, and repairs) can be fast, thorough, and (relatively) inexpensive. Maybe I can afford to keep this plane after all.
- Jeer: Aircraft Spruce
- I was excited when I found out that Aircraft Spruce would be opening a Canadian operation, even if it’s just a transhipment point, because I’m tired of the cross-border mail order hassles. I called Aircraft Spruce first to confirm that their deal with UPS meant no brokerage fees (“just tax”, said the man on the phone), then discovered when my package arrived that Spruce had simply collected the infamous, non-refundable $60–70 brokerage fee on UPS’s behalf before shipping you the order — how is that a benefit to Canadian customers? They refused even to apologize afterwards, much less make good on their mistake (at first, they tried to claim that the fee was sales tax, until I pointed out the sales tax on a separate line). Until we have a real Canadian source, other mail order companies like Chief Aircraft will be happy for your business, and will treat you better in the bargain.