Andrew Barker was a University of Arkansas student with a passion for aviation when he started as the first employee of autopilot maker TruTrak Flight Systems in 2000. “I just kind of fell into it,” he said.
His father was a pilot, and Barker grew up around aviation and the Springdale Municipal Airport. TruTrak has been located near the airport since it was established in 1999. It’s been in a 6,000-square-foot building east of the runway for about 15 years.
A Springdale native, Barker started part-time as a CAD drafting and production assistant. In 2002, he became production manager and was named general manager in 2003. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the UA in 2004. He became co-owner and chief operating officer for TruTrak in 2010. He purchased the company in September 2013 and became president and CEO.
The highlight of his career was receiving a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the Vizion autopilot system for certified aircraft in 2017. That was closely followed by selling the company in late July to Honeywell. TruTrak will become a part of Honeywell’s BendixKing business, and Barker will join BendixKing’s leadership team.
Certified aircraft account for nearly 75% of TruTrak’s business, with the remainder being experimental aircraft. The number of TruTrak employees has doubled to 24 since it started to offer systems for certified aircraft. The company’s autopilot system is FAA approved to be installed in six Cessna and two Piper aircraft. TruTrak is working to receive approval for Mooney and two other Piper aircraft models. The company has sold 15,000 autopilot systems since it was established.
Barker is a member of the Springdale Airport Commission. He also serves on multiple international industry flight standards committees.