Nestled in at the Richard Helgeson Municipal Airport in Two Harbors, Casey Komarek is one of the few Federal Aviation Administration designees located in the state of Minnesota.
By: Amber Ooley, Lake County News-Chronicle
It means the FAA has given Komarek privileges, on behalf of the U.S. government, to issue the necessary paperwork for aircraft inspection, specifically for importing and exporting aircraft to different countries.
If a plane is bought down in Brazil, the U.S. has to issue paperwork to the Brazilian government for the aircraft. This is the paperwork that Komarek deals with.
“I’ve been to Brazil a few times, Columbia,” Komarek said. “I’ve sent airplanes to Europe, Australia, East Asia.”
T.H. Aero is where Komarek spends most of his time with planes from around the world, inspecting them thoroughly. Sometimes he travels to conduct the inspections.
A group from Bolivia traveled to do business with Komarek. They came for an inspection before sending a plane down to a flight school in South America.
Having an FAA designee in Two Harbors is beneficial to the local economy, Komarek said.
“It’s a big thing to have right here in Two Harbors,” he said. “In the future we’re looking to expand into more corporate-type businesses which will bring in bigger airplanes.”
Komarek inspects planes and checks the paperwork in about one day in Two Harbors. He sometimes travels to the Twin Cities area to do the work. If he travels out of the country, it can take up to a week to finish the work.
Komarek is responsible for following FAA guidelines and makes sure the inspection suits both the country its being inspected in as well as the country its being sent to.
Komarek said he inspects between 20-30 exports or imports each year.
“The idea is when you bring in some of these airplanes, it not only benefits your business here, but also the city.”
A future goal of the Two Harbors airport is to expand the industry and help the airport’s business grow with private hangars and increased fuel sales because Two Harbors is one of the cheapest places to fuel up. Similar to a gas station, many people stop by just to fill up if they are passing through on a longer flight.
Komarek does consulting for FAA repair stations, writing manuals or letting them know what needs to be done in order to stay up to par with the FAA regulations.
Repair stations performs maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations and also inspects and tests the airworthiness planes under FAA regulations.
“Each country either has a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement or they don’t,” Komarek said. “The ones that do are the ones we can export to.”
According to the FAA, the Agreement provides airworthiness technical cooperation between the FAA and its counterpart civil aviation authorities.
Each country has its own regulations and they differ drastically from country to country. Every once in awhile, Komarek runs into a language barrier while researching the rules and regulations.
This week he is working on sending a plane to China.
“I go to their website and it’s all in Chinese and there’s an English tab, but it’s still in Chinese,” Komarek said. “I need to work directly with the FAA to find that information.”
Komarek hopes that people will become more aware of the services he has to offer in order to expand and add more businesses at the airport.
“A big part of getting other people to coming use the airport is that FAA designee rating,” Komarek said. “There are only three in the state.”
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