Article by AL.com – December 5, 2022
Many people consider Huntsville, Alabama, the heart of the American defense sector. One of the local businesses contributing to this high-tech reputation is PeopleTec. PeopleTec aids the government by offering support, research, and consulting services in aviation technology. Many employees have deep ties to this sector because of their experience in military aviation. For PeopleTec, their focus is on furthering advancements in aviation while continuing to support the warfighter and the future of military aviation.
Aviation Capabilities at PeopleTec
PeopleTec’s aviation capabilities primarily fall within the engineering services domain supporting helicopter development, manufacturing, and maintenance across numerous Project Management Offices inside the PEO Aviation. The company has worked with Apache, Black Hawk, Chinook, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Project Offices.
Joan Smith, Vice President at PeopleTec, states, “The Army is at a critical point where it must modernize. Modernization must focus on making our aviation platforms more capable but also affordable by leveraging new modular open system approaches. These approaches will increase the speed of testing and integration of emerging capabilities to counter evolving threats in an ever-increasingly complex world environment.”
Smith explains that PeopleTec is closely involved in these modernization efforts and focuses on obtaining the necessary staff and skill sets to support developmental and production projects. Richard Crabtree, a retired Army aviator and now a Director at PeopleTec, further explains that many PeopleTec employees served in the military and now continue their passion through directly serving military customers.
Since its inception, PeopleTec has supported Army Aviation. The company has deep technical competence in systems engineering, flight test, and hardware and software integration. The modernized Aviation fleet requires new areas of competency such as Command, Control, and Communications, Degraded Visual Environment, Aircraft Survivability Equipment, Advanced Flight Controls, Advanced Materials, and the Digital Environment. These skills are critical to ensure Aviation is there to meet the needs of their supported ground forces well into the future.
Retired Major General Bill Gayler, Senior Strategic Advisor at PeopleTec and the former Aviation Branch Chief and Commander of Fort Rucker, described what attracted him to work at PeopleTec. Gayler stated, “I came to PeopleTec because of two main reasons. First, I am passionate about our Aviation branch and the absolute need to modernize with new vertical lift technologies, and this company shares that passion about Aviation and the FVL ecosystems. Second, I view the culture in this company as being that of a great command climate where folks genuinely enjoy coming to work.”
Serving the Warfighter
The advancements made by PeopleTec have directly impacted the warfighter, and their employees feel passionate about those efforts. Smith explains that helicopters with new engines will be more capable and safer thanks to PeopleTec’s expertise. She states, “We keep in mind what we’re doing and why it matters. Everything we do is focused on the Soldier. From an engineering perspective, we must get it right.”
Crabtree gave a first-hand account of how PeopleTec serves the warfighter through its aviation capabilities. He explains that he was part of the AH-64E operational testing in 2012 and was the Production Control Officer for the first combat deployment of the AH-64E in Afghanistan back in 2014. During this combat deployment, the pilots in the unit experienced reduced performance from the Apache’s T700 engine due to reduced power in Afghanistan’s higher altitude combat environment. This required them to carry less fuel and ammunition, adversely affecting support to ground forces.
After he retired from the military, this critical capability gap inspired Crabtree to accept an opportunity from PeopleTec to work on a program that would increase the Apache engine’s output from 2000 to 3000 shaft horsepower. Once fielded, these new engines will allow the AH-64E to carry more fuel and ammunition, increasing the speed and extending the range of the aircraft to provide more lethality and protection to the Soldier on the ground. He notes his gratitude stating, “It is truly an opportunity to make a direct contribution, not just to aviation, but to the Army as a whole.”
Advancements in Aviation on the Horizon
As Crabtree explains, the ability to adapt based on the customer’s needs is essential to advancements in aviation. When it comes to launching advanced technologies, PeopleTec is at the forefront of the defense industry providing capabilities within the data link, radio frequency, and command and control engineering arenas found in the future of aviation’s family of systems. Coupling these family of systems requires complex and secure networks that must be intuitive for the user but complex enough to avoid exposing a vulnerability to enemy forces.
PeopleTec is also highly involved in researching, developing, and applying Modular Open Systems Approaches (MOSA). Over the lifetime of a large system platform, MOSA makes it possible to quickly add, remove, or replace significant system components. This provides opportunities for small business innovation without requiring a total system overhaul from the original equipment manufacturer.
Casey Carter, a Technical Fellow at PeopleTec, sees MOSA as an opportunity for the Army to revolutionize the way they modify aircraft in the future. It will enable the rapid integration and fielding of capabilities to our customer, the warfighter, while countering the size, weight, and power constraints of our current fleet. Carter is viewed as a subject matter expert in the aviation community, with an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering and Turbomachinery. He also serves as the Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) Technical Committee Chair of the Vertical Flight Society (VFS). Employees like Carter are what set PeopleTec apart from other companies in the Huntsville area.
Keeping Up with Ever-Evolving Technology
Throughout the past several years, PeopleTec has taken deliberate steps to evolve with the modernization of Army Aviation. The company has a culture of investing in their employees, ensuring they stay ahead of government needs in technical areas. This culture attracts prospective employees who want an employer that focuses on the Soldier in the field as well as their own needs like fully funded educational pursuits and certification opportunities (i.e., MBSE and PMP).
An employee-owned company, PeopleTec has grown rapidly, and their Army Aviation support has tripled in size over the past two years. This time has been incredibly exciting for PeopleTec, which boasts a 35% veteran workforce, and they attribute corporate success to the hard work of the operationally focused and technically proficient employees who give PeopleTec an excellent reputation in the community.