How can you be sure of a prospective operator’s safe operations?
Safety is a basic consideration when selecting a charter operator for an upcoming business trip, notes Jan Králík, COO and Accountable Manager, ABS Jets. Clients should focus specifically on an organization’s Safety Management System (SMS) to help identify potential holes in the provider’s safe operations…
Full implementation of an effective SMS requires time, effort, investment, and in some cases a complete change in attitude towards safety matters that affect a charter operator. A key area to explore is the charter provider’s internal data collection or reporting system.
Is its staff encouraged to report safety issues as they arise? Such reporting improves the company’s overall operating procedures.
More so, is the company acting upon those reports adequately?
As an example, ABS Jets’ fleet of aircraft land and depart from approximately 300 different airports annually, including some infrequently. It would be impossible to monitor all of these locations without crew feedback on a number of factors, including the quality of services and safety issues that may arise at each location.
The result of that feedback enables ABS Jets to develop preferences with regard to ground handling at several otherwise problematic locations, and make advanced arrangements to ensure adequate service will be available upon arrival. The net result is enhanced safety of the overall operation.
Safety & Flight Planning
Another question to ask a prospective operator revolves around its Operations Control Center. Many potential safety issues can be identified (and eliminated) during the initial steps of flight preparation, while final preparation (routings, filing of flight plans and documentation) are also significant.
Although computer technology and dedicated software have helped remove many of the mistakes commonly associated with manually prepared flight plans and charts, the quality of the documentation is still only as good as the staff inputting the data. Human error remains a real threat to safety, and multi-tasking is a common enemy.
The charter operator should be proactive in the way it fights that challenge.
Is the charter operator thorough in its assessment of operating hours, airport limitations and availability of required services on the trip? Is sufficient consideration given to the security of the operation? For example, is the flight passing into, or through areas of political instability or epidemic disease and if so, what special measures will be taken?
With regard to flight planning, is the latest meteorological information and NOTAMS available and utilized? Is the operator selecting routes to optimize fuel burn and comfort? Performed properly, these areas of trip preparation can remove many potentially dangerous or difficult scenarios.
Communication between an operator’s departments is very important. For example, is the aircraft selected for the mission really suitable for the trip? A small error in predicting the wind strength might render fuel reserves problematic in a Medium jet (for example) where a Large Cabin jet would allow more margin for error.
Interaction between flight crew and dispatchers is essential to eliminate potential errors.
Potential risks need to be communicated, and an acceptable standard of safety agreed universally within the organization. Thus, while software may be an essential part of the planning process, face-to-face interaction between crew and dispatchers is what makes our industry safe.
Handling Pressure Safely...
Dispatchers in Business Aviation are often operating under pressure to be quick in their decision-making, while simultaneously being committed to making as few errors as possible. The best way to achieve such effectiveness is to be proactive. A prospective charter operator should anticipate complications and be ready to deal with them if they arise.
Best practices should be documented and followed by all the operator’s flight, maintenance and service staff.
Standard procedures and uncompromised quality control save time and prevent mishaps.
Regardless of the operator you select for your upcoming charter trip, a demonstrable commitment to continuous improvement should be a must.
More information from www.absjets.com