About Us

UAS was established in 1985 by the current President of the Company Mr. Robert A Feerst (Bob)

With over 40 years of experience in the Aviation Industry, he also understands the utility industry having been a Journeyman Lineman and Manager for a utility flight department. He is a Commercial Pilot, rated in both fixed wing and rotary. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Purdue University and holds a Masters' Degrees in Aviation Business Management and in Aviation/Aerospace Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Bob has developed the company into a dedicated team of professionals that has made Utilities Aviation Specialists the industry leader in Aviation Safety and Consulting that it is today.


The UAS team comprises of some of the most experienced and respected people in aviation safety management, off shore oil management and training instructors all working together to ensure that our clients benefit from their collective areas of expertise. These areas include, specialized training programs, aviation safety auditing, project management for utilities, installation of safety management systems and technical aviation consulting to industries that employ helicopters in their daily operations. UAS is world renowned for providing mission specific expertise in specialized applications which require skill sets above those found in most routine transport operations. Our goal is to identify, substantially lower, and manage the risks associated with operating aircraft in these specialized environments through developing detailed safety procedures, installing engineering controls, specialized safety audits, and providing mission specific training. All of our specialists have many years of experience operating aircraft in some or all of these specialized applications and understand both the aviation and the non-aviation risks which must be considered when assessing safety margins and developing a safety and training program that works. We also understand the criticality of cost control and the need to get the most out of every dollar invested in improving or maintaining safe aircraft operations.

Robert A. Feerst

Robert A. Feerst, President of Utilities/Aviation Specialists Inc., combines thirty-eight years of aviation experience with thirty-one years of operating in a joint gas & electric utility. His experience ranges from designing and managing an innovative, multi-function corporate flight operation, managing electric utility substation/transmission/distribution operations and maintenance, as well as owning and operating private fixed wing aircraft. He is an active consultant who works with industry wide safety and operational issues in the utility, EMS, oil, military and civil aviation industries.

Bob was assigned aboard an aircraft carrier in South East Asia prior to being assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing Squadron 13, at Alameda Naval Air Station. It was there that he received the initial flight training that began a life-long involvement with aviation. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science from Purdue University where he graduated with “Highest Distinction.” His major areas of study were Industrial Engineering and Management. He later received two Masters Degree’s, in Aviation Business Management and in Aviation/Aerospace Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He was awarded a scholarship for supervisory excellence by the “American Society of Professional Supervision” and named in Who's Who in America, in 1986 for academic achievement in his field of endeavor. He is a member of the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association (PHPA), The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), The Lawyer/Pilots Bar Association and the University Aviation Association. He is also a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “PREVENT” program, an industry-wide safety and accident prevention initiative.

After his release from active service in the U.S. Navy, Bob went to work for a local utility company while continuing his pursuit of an aviation career. He gained much of his technical gas utility experience installing, maintaining and inspecting high-pressure cross-country gas transmission systems. He later transferred to the electric side of the business where he achieved status as a journeyman lineman and line crew supervisor. He is experienced with all phases of line and substation work including live-line maintenance on distribution and ultra-high voltage systems. He is also a certified infra-red thermographer and a live-line bare hand lineman. As an Electric Substation/Transmission Supervisor, he managed transmission and distribution operations through all phases of construction and maintenance. He was the “Chairman” of the Construction Transmission/Distribution Line Department Safety Committee and responsible for the departments electric line safety program, company wide.

His Industrial Engineering background combined with his hands on field experience brought him into utility management early in 1980 as an industrial engineer and internal management consultant. He was charged with numerous projects aimed at renovating the way the company conducted its business. He was also charged with the development and implementation of revenue generating holdings to help diversify the company’s revenue stream. His responsibility for management and operational improvements ultimately led him to design, develop, and manage a highly effective utility flight operation. He developed his flight department and managed its evolution from a small contracted helicopter operation to a professional multi-aircraft / multi-mission flight service, operating to FAA part 135/133 specifications, which served his company and several neighboring utilities as well. On the personnel transport side, he operated both fixed wing turbo-prop equipment and single and twin engine helicopters with complete IFR helicopter transport capabilities. On the utility side, the department offered a complete range of services including, gas pipeline and electric transmission and distribution patrols, comprehensive inspections, infra-red line evaluations, aerial photography, remote site transport, executive transport, field crew support, hydro inspections, and helicopter construction and lift operations. Due to his utility operating background, the flight department under his leadership had line responsibility for all field data affecting gas and electric system reliability. He was responsible for training both pilots and airborne linemen/patrolmen, and responsible for research and development of new technology for utility helicopter operations.

Bob is a commercial pilot rated in both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and is highly experienced in low-level flight operations. He has completed various training programs at Bell Helicopter's Flight Training Academy and Flight Safety International. Over the course of his thirty-eight years of aviation experience, he has worked with nearly every type of aviation operation that employs low-level fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. A partial list would include; both attack and transport military operations, utility, emergency medical evacuation services, search and rescue operations, airborne fire fighting, offshore gas and oil production, agricultural, construction, helicopter logging, electronic news gathering, airborne law enforcement, heavy lift, infra-red, digital imaging, personal and executive transport, and heliport planning and placement. He has also done extensive work with highly specialized helicopter applications such as helicopter live-line maintenance and has been involved with building power lines by helicopter since 1973. He has also been involved with emergency line restoration, community disaster planning, and community police efforts such as airborne marijuana detection and eradication. Besides his duties as a line pilot, he has managed both corporate and contracted helicopter operations. He served as “Director of Safety and Training” for a Chicago-land based FAA Part 135/133 helicopter operation that serviced the gas, electric and telecommunications industries throughout the central and mid-western United States.

As President of Utilities/Aviation Specialists Inc., (a consulting group he established in 1985) Bob has worked with numerous corporations around the world on issues involving fixed wing and helicopter applications, departmental restructuring, program and procedures development, aircraft accident investigation/litigation and aviation safety. Utilities/Aviation Specialists is a unique consulting group which provides technical aviation consulting, specialized training, and operations management services to off-shore Oil Operations, Pipeline, Electric Transmission, Telecommunications, Air Ambulance, helicopter Construction and other companies which employ aircraft in their daily operations. It also provides safety auditing services for all types of aircraft operators and low-level flight training to the United States Military. Bob has written multiple aviation contracts, developed numerous bid specifications for flight operations, and authored many articles for both utility and aviation industry publications. He has been involved with utilities and aviation related industries world wide, on issues concerning helicopter power line operations, transmission systems reliability management, as well as wire and obstruction marking/lighting and litigation support. He is frequently employed as a safety and operations consultant by numerous utilities, manufactures and airplane/helicopter service providers including helicopter construction and live-line maintenance contractors.

He gained his experience as an aviation safety auditor and aircraft accident investigator through a formal graduate education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that formally trained him in operational safety management and aircraft accident investigation. He also developed stringent audit procedures that he employed in frequent audits of all vendors providing his utility with aircraft or aircraft related services. He has since been employed to conduct aviation accident investigations and safety audits for internal flight departments, as well as numerous helicopter and fixed wing contractors world-wide. His audit services are well known, internationally, for their ability to evaluate risk and provide safety consulting where aviation operations require skills above those associated with normal general aviation operations. He is a certified Aviation Safety Auditor, certified aviation Risk Management Instructor and a certified Aviation Safety Program Manager by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Having been elected to three consecutive two year terms as Chairman of the “Utility's Patrol and Construction Committee” (UPAC) with the “Helicopter Association International” (HAI), he is continually involved with industry wide helicopter operations and general aviation safety issues. He has been the recipient of numerous safety awards, both military and civilian, for his efforts to promote aviation safety. Among the most notable was the Helicopter Association International's "Meritorious Service Award" in 1999 for his industry wide work in aviation safety, utility flight operations, and in wire and obstruction strike avoidance. In February of (2002) he was honored with the civil helicopter industries highest recognition for outstanding contributions to aviation safety, the “Joe Mashman Safety Award” presented at the HAI’s international conference in Orlando, FL.

Bob has spent over twenty five years studying aviation accidents in the wire and obstruction environment. He pioneered efforts, now used worldwide, to train both fixed and rotary wing pilots and crews to manage the risks involved with low-level flight operations. He is the author and an instructor of the internationally known “Flying in the Wire and Obstruction Environment, and Wire Strike Avoidance” training programs taught to professional aviators around the globe. They are indorsed and sponsored by numerous groups and manufactures such as the Helicopter Association International, Bristol Aerospace Industries, Aeronautical Accessories Inc. and Aviation Regulatory Agencies internationally. He is also the author of the “Utility Flight Operations” training course taught to utility pilots, linemen, engineers and patrolmen, specifically designed to help utilities build safe and cost effective utility flight operations. He teaches numerous other subjects including: safe low-level flight operations, standard operating procedures development, helicopter aerodynamics, human factors, crew resource management (CRM), federal air regulations review, aeronautical decision making, survival, dealing with the news media, crew error management, risk management and emergency/post accident procedures. He has also taught courses on patrol, inspection, and utility maintenance by helicopter aimed at teaching utility patrolmen what they need to know in order to keep a transmission system safe and reliable. To date, Bob has trained over 18,000 aviation managers, fixed wing and helicopter pilots, both private and federal aviation accident investigators, safety officers (both military and civilian), engineers, lineman/patrolmen, military pilots, flight nurses, and other industry professionals from all across the globe. Many flight organizations consider his low-level training courses “required training” prior to allowing their pilots and/or flight crews to operate close to the ground.

Mr. Feerst works with Aviation Safety Regulators world-wide on numerous aviation safety related issues. He has developed helicopter safety related Safety & Health Information Bulletins (SHIB’s) for OSHA. He is also actively involved with training Aviation Safety Regulators such as the FAA, NTSB, DOT, Transport Canada, CAA and CASA to name just a few. Bob has also been an Associate Staff Member with the U. S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT), Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) and an instructor for the “Advanced Rotorcraft Accident Investigations Course,” taught at the TSI / DOT’s Aviation Safety Center in Oklahoma City.

Mr. Feerst is often employed as an expert witness in both fixed wing and rotary wing related issues involving “Controlled Flight into Terrain” (CFIT) accidents, wire and obstruction strikes, human factors, and low-level and/or utility patrol and construction matters. His constant involvement with the utility industry through contact with flight operations and transmission departments gives him a universal knowledge of virtually all utility aviation applications including industry standards, practices, and the norms among utilities with respect to standard helicopter operating procedures, fixed wing transport operations, and wire and obstruction marking/lighting. His exposure and familiarity with the aviation industry, world wide, through his involvement with the Helicopter Association International (HAI), frequent training courses, international consulting, and his auditing practice, is often employed relative to testimony as to the duty of a pilot and/or crew while operating low-level. Some of the issues he has testified to include: what level of situational awareness a pilot had/or should have had, during any kind of low-level or CFIT accident, a pilots and/or crews duty while operating low-level, the types of training needed to operate low-level, human factors issues, aeronautical decision making issues, the standard duty of care in the utility industry with respect to marking/lighting wires or obstructions, and interpretation of Advisory Circulars and Federal Air Regulations including FAR part 91 regulations and FAR part 77 regulations on wire and obstruction marking/lighting. He was appointed to a special committee with the Helicopter Association International and the Federal Aviation Administration as a result of the FAA’s Joint Safety Analysis Team (JSAT) “Safer Skies Initiative.” The committees stated goals were to review FAR’s, Part 77, and develop a national standard and criteria for marking wires and towers, and to review and revise the Advisory Circulars (AC’s) pertaining to low-level operations and wire and obstruction marking. His capacity with the committee is to represent both the utility and the aviation industries. In addition, he has been involved with the Institute of Electronic and ElectricalEngineers (IEEE) the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and OSHA, to develop standards for all facets of operation by utility aircraft in the wire and obstruction environment. He is also currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, Transport Canada, the Civil Aviation Administration in Norway, the U.S. Department of Home Land Security, and the Utility Industries in the United States, Canada and Europe conducting tests and evaluations on newly developed wire/obstacle collision avoidance systems aimed at minimizing obstruction strike accidents by all types of aircraft.

Bob is frequently called upon to represent both the aviation and the utility industries as a speaker, at worldwide safety conferences, trade events and industry gatherings. A few examples include: The World Transmission and Distribution EXPO’s, the Engineering Safety & Maintenance of Overhead Lines conferences, (ESMO), the Annual Utilities Maintenance Management Operations and Safety Conferences, the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) live-line maintenance workshops, the Western Electric Power Institute’s “Utility Flight Operations” Safety Seminars, New Zealand's Aviation Industry Association's Civil Aviation Authority conferences, CASA’s/HAA’s Australian Wire Strike Avoidance Seminars, the Latin American Human Factors in Aviation Safety Conferences, the Canadian Helicopter Association, the Association of Air Medical Services Annual Conventions, Airborne Law Enforcement Association Conferences, the Annual “Utility Safety” International Conventions, numerous State Agricultural Aviation Associations, the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) and the HELI-EXPO International. His topics range from all aspects of safety and operations management to risk management, loss control, and accident prevention in the utility and aviation industries. He is also a frequent speaker at statewide safety stand-downs for U. S. military aviators and at national military conventions such as the Army National Guard’s annual Occupational Health and Safety Conferences. He frequently serves as a panel member or panel chairman on technical issues having to do with aviation and/or utility flight operations issues. Bob also works with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on joint projects for utility flight operations concerning aviation safety training, cost effectiveness and electric transmission system reliability. He was recently a U.S. representative and delegate to the newly formed China World Helicopter Association (CWHA) in Shanghai, China.