The founding principle of any flight operation is safety, operating one or more aircraft in a manner that uses a combination of training, skills, experience, maturity, best practice and common standards in an environment of willingness to benefit from continual learning, an exchange of views and ideas, and the past experience of others.
Private jet marketeers quote safety levels equivalent to those of the best airlines. However, what may be considered legal and compliant is not necessarily best practice and, as in the best airlines, safety must be constantly reviewed and managed proactively. Some operators are significantly better than others. In the very best of operators and flight departments, as with airlines having structured internal safety departments, safety is put to the fore with a genuine appreciation of key elements of crew assessment, selection and training, common standards and operating procedures, learning from internal and external incidents, and disseminating information to pilots and other personnel appropriately and regularly.
Corporate pilots may never have been exposed to comprehensive selection criteria, interview boards, detailed audit of CVs or logbooks, psychometric testing or pre-selection simulator flying assessment used routinely by air forces and major airlines. Many will only pass basic competence tests required once a year in a simulator, where hours are precious, and costs often limit re-testing. Some will have benefitted from past career opportunities perhaps without impartial scrutiny of their true experience and capabilities under pressure. Accordingly, there is noticeably a diverse and highly individual combination of characters and with a range of abilities engaged in private aviation today.
Commercial operations are routinely subject to regulatory inspection of training requirements, certification, route and airfield experience, aircraft loading, fuel and route planning, risk assessment and the use of standard operating procedures. Flight checks are performed without warning by inspectors. Reports are then issued in confidence and without the aircraft owners or regular passengers having any knowledge. While private operations are routinely exempt from any such scrutiny, even when operations are conducted under the umbrella of a management company holding commercial certificates, there is a strong argument to insist that the people in the back deserve full transparency and the same approach to quality, safety and standards. It is therefore considered essential for an owner to insist on the ability to perform risk assessments and to introduce independent inspection and oversight into the process, beyond that typically being proposed by a management company or internal chief pilot. A management agreement with a third-party operator, or the internal procedures of an in-house flight department, ideally allow a formal and regular audit process for inspecting the quality of the operation being performed and further the ability to make recommendations for measurable improvement to meet and exceed expectations.
Third-party billing needs to be closely reviewed regularly to ensure that no more is being paid for services and supplies than necessary, in particular fuel uplifts, insurance, communications, handling, catering, maintenance and other expenses and recharges.
We are equipped with the necessary experience and expertise over many years and the practical capabilities to create an initial in-house flight department for a new owner, or simply assist with initial test flights, documentation, delivery, ferrying and other essential and desirable services to ease a smooth contracting and entry-into-service with an appointed operator.