Phillips Aviation, decades of aircraft maintenance

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Out at the Picayune Municipal Airport is a fixed base operation that has been ensuring aircraft are properly maintained for decades.

Phillips Aviation started by taking over operations at the Diamondhead Airport in 1984 before moving out to Stennis International Airport in 1988. It operated at that airport until 2004, when the business relocated to the Picayune Airport.

Current owner Wayne Phillips has been working on planes for as long as he can remember. He started by helping his father Gene work on his crop duster after school.

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At Phillips Aviation, owners of fixed wing prop powered airplanes can have their aircraft serviced with simple things such as an oil change or complicated tasks such as an engine replacement.

He also performs annual inspections, and prides himself on ensuring each and every aircraft that leaves his hangar is fit for the air.

“It’s either right or it doesn’t roll out of my shop,” Phillips said.

In order to become an aircraft mechanic, several levels of certification are required. Phillips said an aircraft mechanic first has to earn their airframe and power plant license and work for three years maintaining aircraft before they can earn their inspection authorization.

Each annual inspection is required by the government, and involves tearing down every aspect of the aircraft to ensure all of the parts are in working order.

That level of maintenance is the reason why there are still so many older planes in operation, which aren’t cheap even in used condition.

Phillips said a small single prop aircraft can cost about $50,000 with some newer or more advanced models costing upwards of $500,000.

Phillips Aviation performs maintenance on aircraft for owners who live all over the region, from Baton Rouge to Mobile.

Since the aviation community is so small and close-knit, Phillips said he has to do good work or his business would not succeed. That’s why he gives each job a double and triple check.

“The liability in this business gives you ulcers,” Phillips said.

While he is licensed to work on helicopters and jets, he hasn’t worked on them in years.

Phillips Aviation employs four people full time and one person part time on the weekends.

The business is located at 148 Runway Rd., is open seven days a week to meet aircraft mechanical needs and can be reached by calling 601-749-4449.