Leonard Swope graduated from Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in 1967 with both an Airframe and Power plant certificate and went to work for Trans World Airlines in New York where he worked on the Boeing 707, 727 and 747 aircraft. Leonard took a short leave of absence for his tour in the military after being drafted in 1969. In the military Leonard was a Turbine Engine Specialist and an Instructor. After the military, Leonard returned to TWA in New York and stayed with TWA until December 1972.
On January 3, 1973 Leonard began work as an aircraft mechanic for the Federal Aviation Administration at Hangar 6 in Washington DC where he worked on the FAA’s fleet of both general aviation and executive type aircraft.
In September of 1981, due to a reduction in force at the FAA, Leonard transferred to the Engine Shop at Davidson Army Airfield in Virginia where he worked on both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Due to having his Airframe and Power plant certificates, Leonard also worked Airframe, The sheet metal shop, The prop and Rotor shop and the Paint shop.
In August 1984, Leonard accepted a position as an Air-carrier Aviation Maintenance Safety Inspector at the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) in Indianapolis, IN. Leonard worked his way up through the ranks from inspector to Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) for Britt Airlines with their fleet of Swarengen SA226, Beechcraft 99 and Fairchild FH227 aircraft. Leonard was instrumental in the merger and transition of Britt Airlines into American Express Airlines which still exists today. Leonard then became the Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) for American Trans Air Airlines and helped them grow from a vacation airline to the 10 largest passenger carrying airlines in the United States. Their fleet grew from 1 Boeing 707 to 24 Boeing 727-200 aircraft, 30 Boeing 757 aircraft, 14 Lockheed L-1011 aircraft and 30 some Boeing 737 series aircraft. After 20 years as a PMI, Leonard became the Supervisor of the Airworthiness Section at the Indianapolis FSDO and maintained that position until he retired in November 2010.
Leonard’s duties as a PMI included approving and monitoring the approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs for each fleet of aircraft including the Minimum Equipment List and Configuration Deviation list and time limitation list. Provided accident, Incident and occurrence investigations. Assured compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations. Worked with the air-carrier and the FAA aircraft certification office to put new production aircraft on the certificate. Worked with the air-carrier and FAA engineering for approval of minor and major changes to the aircraft including changes to the seating configurations and adding new equipment. Worked with the air-carrier to approve and monitor their Reliability Program, and the aging aircraft maintenance and inspection program, Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM) .