Keeping Essential Cargo Moving

Project Description

Kyle Deardorff

Hagerstown Campus, MD
Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: FedEx, Aircraft Technician

When you think about cargo planes, you might picture a large aircraft that’s packed full of huge, heavy packages. What you may not imagine is what PIA alumnus Kyle Deardorff does for a living: in the tropical paradise of Honolulu, he repairs and maintains a fleet of small turboprop Cessna Caravans that make important local deliveries for FedEx.

“Large FedEx jets, typically 777s or MD-11s, make constant deliveries to the island of Oahu, where their cargo is sorted and distributed,” explains Deardorff. “Since these wide-body jets can’t land at many of the smaller islands’ airports, they rely on our Caravan Feeder department to get their cargo where it needs to go.”

Originally from York, PA, Deardorff graduated from PIA’s Hagerstown, MD, campus in 2017 and accepted a job offer from Southern Airways Express. “I worked at Southern for about 2 years, gaining experience on the Cessna 208B Caravan, before moving to Hawaii to join FedEx,” says Deardorff. “I’ve only had two jobs in the aviation field so far, and I feel very fortunate to have landed this position.”

Deardorff says his in-class experience at PIA helped prepare him for the wide array of problems he gets to solve during his workday — including several classes that he never expected to be so influential.

“Our sheet metal class was very in-depth and thorough, and that was crucial in helping prepare me for my maintenance duties at FedEx, because Hawaii is such a corrosion-laden environment due to all the sea salt in the air,” says Deardorff. “While I didn’t always enjoy the sheet metal projects at PIA, they definitely benefited me in the end — so please thank Mr. Smith for me!”

Deardorff says another, even more challenging PIA class also turned out to be indispensable: “the dreaded electrical class.”

“While it is very challenging, this is a course that you cannot go without in the aviation industry,” says Deardorff. “That’s because the avionics packages effectively mean that most of these airplanes are computers with wings. Having a good understanding of how to read a wiring diagram is critical for effective electronics troubleshooting, and PIA helped equip me with the proper knowledge to do this confidently.”

Deardorff is proud to be considered essential personnel during the COVID–19 crisis, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to record high demand for parcel delivery and cargo shipments, making FedEx busier than ever.

“Right now it’s crucial to keep our fleet of Caravans ready for inter-island shipping,” says Deardorff. “We’ve increased our maintenance operations to include more frequent inspections and servicing, as well as dealing with any issues that the pilots find during this heavy use period of the aircraft. It makes me feel very satisfied to know that our Honolulu maintenance team is continuing to keep these aircraft flying safely, so they can keep delivering vital supplies to the people who rely on us.”