Title: Gladstone Aerospace looks to the sky
Sub-title: Founded by a former Air Force pilot and trainer, this up and coming consultancy provides its clients with a comprehensive suite of consulting and training services.
After 22 years in the Canadian Air Force, no one could deny that Keith Gladstone had earned himself a nice retirement. But anyone who knows the seasoned veteran - who ended his CF stint ranked as a lieutenant colonel - also knew that he would not be sitting around long.
Shortly after hanging up his stripes, Gladstone resurfaced as a trainer at California’s National Test Pilot School, while simultaneously polishing off an MBA. A five-year stint at CAE followed. But in 2005 Gladstone got his first chance to fully leverage his background by opening his own aerospace consulting firm Gladstone Aerospace.
Gladstone’s idea was to use his experience and extensive connections in the aerospace and simulation communities in industry, academia and government, and to leverage these to provide value to its customers, which soon included DND (Flight Certification & Training Analysis), CAE, NGRAIN, Selex Galileo (UK) and a slew of others.
From the beginning, Gladstone sought to balance sales between the civil and military markets. “The two sectors tend to peak at different times and complement each other well,” says Gladstone. “For example much of our work on the civilian side is with smaller operators. This enables us to keep busy yet at the same time gives us a base from which to bid on government sector work, for which the cycles can be far more extended and complex.”
Aerospace consulting and system solutions
In a move to streamline operational efficiency, Gladstone Aerospace was split up into three operating divisions. Gladstone Aerospace Consulting (GAC) provides its customers a comprehensive suite of services. These include flight test certification for civil and military contractors, aerospace training solutions, industrial design, human-machine interface optimization and partner relationship building.
The second division, St-John’s Newfoundland-based Gladstone Systems Solutions (GSS), which is led by Carl Byers and Jim House, focuses on software based product development, systems engineering and training solutions. The firm, a big contributor to the province’s vibrant and expanding aerospace sector, also serves as a center of excellence within Gladstone Aerospace for airborne and underwater UAVs.
The Aerospace Flight Test Training Centre
Another of the company’s major initiatives is the Aerospace Flight Test Training Center, notably its Introduction to Fixed Wing Flight Testing course, which enables engineers and pilots who have little or no flight test backgrounds, to plan, conduct and report on fixed wing flight test programs using either civilian or military standards. Students are also given the opportunity to control missions from stations that emulate real life flight test control rooms (FTCR).
In fact one of Gladstone’s biggest initiatives right now consists of selecting an airport in the Ottawa area at which the company’s flight test training will take place. (Carp Airport and Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport are the main candidates).
The company has recently teamed up with industry, government and academia (both here and abroad) to provide test training to DND, and is starting to think big. “Flight testing is the long pole in the tent right now, an area where we can really add value,” says Gladstone. “There are not too many people with the solid Test Pilot School experience that we have out there. So we expect strong demand for our services both domestically and from international customers.”
Adding value through people
Ironically though, Gladstone Aerospace’s extensive capabilities are not what give its owner-founder the greatest satisfaction; that, he derives from the high-powered talent that he has managed to attract to the firm over the years. “Consulting is primarily a people business,” says Gladstone. “Your main assets walk out the front door each night, and they do not show up on any balance sheet.”
Gladstone cites Todd Macuda, the group’s vice-president (business development)’s strong background in applied research and development, Ian McIntyre vice-president (training solutions)’s solutions implementation background and John Fiedler’s experience in simulations as three key building blocks that will help propel the company in coming years.
Despite Gladstone’s success, he shows no signs of slowing down. For example recently the company began working to help Cougar Helicopters enhance their operational effectiveness and given the chance Gladstone will talk your head of with other new ideas. “I love this industry, so it doesn’t feel like work to me,” says the aerospace veteran. “As long as that continues, I’ll keep on seeking out new opportunities.”
Name: Gladstone Aerospace Consulting (Ottawa), Gladstone Systems Solutions (St-Johns, NFLD), Aerospace Flight Test Training Center,
Parent company: Gladstone Aerospace
Locations: Ottawa, St-John’s
Description: Aerospace consultancy
Key executives: Keith Gladstone, Dr. Todd Macuda, (v-p business development) Ian McIntyre (vice-president operations)
Owners: Keith Gladstone, Dr. Todd Macuda, Ian McIntyre
Peter Diekmeyer (email@example.com) is Canadian Defence Review’s Quebec correspondent.
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