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Software allows mechanics to keep track of repairs in the air

By Robert Baun

 

Tom Callen's not a pilot.  Not even a mechanic.   But the Fort Collins software developer is as much a part of the helicopter business as anyone in the air or on the ground. Callen owns CompuTrak, a software firm that makes maintenance tracking software. The software allows mechanics and helicopter owners to keep abreast of which parts in the aircraft need service or replacement, simply by logging the flight information on the computer. Callen, who also owns Micro Computer Systems, one of the first computer stores in Fort Collins, was spurred to develop CompuTrak by his friend Larry Hansen. In 1979, Hansen, owner of Century Helicopters, approached Callen about the maintenance paperwork problems in the helicopter industry. Helicopters are subject to careful inspections and religious maintenance schedules. Each part needs to be monitored, and requires overhaul or replacement after a certain amount of flight time. In the late 1970s, mechanics would have to manually log each part and contact the manufacturer about the part's history. "It was very time consuming," Callen said. "Now, the computer does it in seconds." Callen's product was the first maintenance software for small aircraft. Bigger aviation companies used computers, but it was a stodgy process. "They'd' mail in the (flight) hours to a processing center," Callen explained. "Three weeks later they'd get a report mailed back saying what they need to do. "Little operations didn't have that facility. Now everybody uses the computer." The CompuTrak program is updated constantly, as Callen responds to needs of the customers. Today, users of CompuTrak included the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Qwest Communications, the FBI and the Denver Police Department. AS a division of Micro Computer Systems, CompuTrak represents about 75 percent of Callen's revenue. Callen's come to be a fan of helicopters, and sometimes rides in the aircraft that use his software. "To me it's much safer than being in an airplane," he said. He would know.

 

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