As vice president of tech services for a major express freight contractor servicing the automobile manufacturing industry, Mitch Noble has one of the most challenging jobs in aviation maintenance. It's not just that USA Jet Airlines, the operations end of Active Aero Charter, fields a fleet of 1960s-era McDonnell Douglas (OK, Boeing) DC-9s and Dassault Falcon 20 freighters; the Willow Run, Mich.-based cargo hustler writes response-time guarantees into its on-call contracts. That means ...

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