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John Frasca Named CEO of Frasca International Flight Simulator Firm

Posted on Tue, 20 Sep 2011 12:41:37 GMT

Sep 19, 2011 (The News-Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- After more than a quarter-century at Frasca International, John Frasca has been named president and chief executive officer of the company.

Meanwhile, his dad, Rudy, is retiring from active management of the flight simulator firm he founded.

Rudy Frasca will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Frasca Internation, Inc. company logo.

Frasca Internation, Inc. company logo.

"He still shows up on a daily basis. He likes to be informed," John Frasca said of his dad.

"He's the guy giving us the vision, and I'm the guy making it happen."

The family owned company, which employs 190 at its headquarters on Urbana's north side, has been making flight simulators since 1958.

Pilots use the simulators to learn how to fly single-engine aircraft, commercial aircraft, passenger airplanes, military training aircraft and helicopters.

John Frasca, 52, started working for the company in 1972, while he was still in junior high school.

He studied electrical engineering at the University of Illinois and was named the company's vice president of operations in 1986. He has been responsible for day-to-day operations the past 25 years.

The new CEO says he sees opportunities for growth in the simulator business, but is uncertain about the general economy.

"It's the volatility of the economy right now. Business is up and down, and it's not just simulation," he said.

"Our staffing requirements might be high right now, but I don't know where we'll be in the future," he said. "I'm cautious about adding people. ... We're taking a conservative approach to growth."

But he said the company will continue to invest in technological development, manufacturing processes and engineering capabilities, as well as quality and safety initiatives.

During the past three years, Frasca International has added about 30 employees. Growth during that time came from the military, John Frasca said.

"Commercial (business) has been down the last three years, but we found some good military programs to more than replace that," he said.

The company supplies both the U.S. Army and Air Force, and Frasca equipment is also used to train Afghanistan's air force, he said. Frasca has also supported programs for training the Iraqi air force.

John Frasca said he expects the military business to "flatten out a bit," but the company will still have a lot of business related to helicopters _ not only military ones, but also those used to support the offshore oil industry and to provide emergency medical services.

Frasca supplies flight training schools in the United States, and is also providing flight simulators for programs in Scotland, Australia, South Korea and China, he added.

Federal Aviation Administration requirements could end up increasing the demand for flight simulators, Frasca said.

"The FAA is pushing more hours for pilots. Some reports say first officers need more flight training. Those regulations could potentially result in more simulator demand," he said.

Even though the UI has decided to close its Institute of Aviation, Frasca said there has not been a general move by universities in that direction.

"In the last several years, three or four universities got out of flight training, but there are an equal number (of programs) that are booming," he said.

Another growth area for Frasca International has been supplying larger simulator companies.

"Very large (firms) need companies like us to supply components to them," Frasca said.

"Ten years ago, we weren't doing any of that. Now it's a significant portion of what we do."

About three years ago, Frasca International made a 14,000-square-foot addition to its facilities.

"We used that space for painting and some other light manufacturing," John Frasca said.

He said the company is looking at adding a like amount of space _ possibly through construction of a satellite building. However, the timing hasn't been determined.

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Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a flight simulation enthusiast also with a keen interest in aviation and technology.  Ian spends a lot of his time experimenting with various simulator packages but has a love for Microsoft Flight Simulator X because of the huge selection of add-ons available.  However, Ian also has copies of Prepar3D and X-Plane installed. 

Ian has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.  Should you wish, you can contact Ian via email at ian.stephens@flyawaysimulation.com.

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