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Safety is an investment, not a cost! Ramp Safety and Business Aviation

by Joe McDermott 20. February 2017 14:16
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The quality of ground operations staff training at FBOs and business aviation handling agents across the globe varies greatly, with some organizations using NATA Safety 1st or similar dedicated programs while others rely on in-house developed systems, some of which are not up to the job and often suffer from insufficient oversight.

Safety Management Systems (SMS) can see just as much diversity in the sector.

The consequences of a training program or SMS which is under resourced or treated as an annoying requirement to be left to the safety/training manager alone are, quite frankly, dire. Safety failures on the ramp can cause serious injury and even death. In terms of physical damage to aircraft such failures can cost many millions of dollars even for what seem to be a minor incident, just ask your aviation insurance agent.

Contact between aircraft and ground service equipment accounts for more than 80% of ramp incidents. Unsurprisingly, ineffective communication is at the heart of most incidents. Without a robust training program with follow-on recurrent training and a suitable, evolving SMS, effective communications on the ramp will not exist and accidents will invariably happen, given time.

Safety must be rooted in a culture that starts at the very top of an organization. It is very much in the interest of Accountable Managers (AKA Accountable Executives) to understand that safety is an investment, not a cost! Taking a proactive stance on the subject can allow an Accountable Manager to energise his/her team with the enthusiasm to approach joining up effective training and SMS implementation for the benefit of all.

Here are a few misconceptions that prevail on ramp safety:

  1. Once the ramp crew has been trained, the job is done.
  2. Ramp training is only for the ramp crew.
  3. Safety oversight lies with training manager only.

 

Accountable Managers may well be surprised how reasonable such programs can be, especially when compared to an incident. Costs are far from prohibitive, even for smaller FBO and BAHA.

NATA's Safety 1st Professional Line Service Training (PLST) program sets the standard for line service training. AMR Combs created the first training program for line service specialists in the mid ‘80s. In the late 1990s, the Aviation Training Institute (ATI) produced a new video edition of PLST. NATA purchased ATI's PLST in 2000, improved it again, and subsequently introduced it under the NATA Safety 1st brand of line service training tools. That version of the training is used today by more than 1,100 FBOs and thousands of line service specialists across the United States and internationally.

Since the launch of the NATA Safety 1st and the introduction of PLST, NATA have released numerous other online training tools for all general aviation businesses.

In 2014 ICAO set up the Ground Handling Task Force to look at safety, efficiency and standardization issues associated with ground handling.

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) launched IS-BAH, the International Standard – Business Aviation Handling in May 2014 at EBACE. The standard was developed at the urging of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).

IS-BAH Standards based on:

  • ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs)
  • Business Aviation Best Practices

 

IS-BAH is a set of global industry best practices for business aviation ground handlers, which features at its core a SMS. The IS-BAH follows the structure of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Program and incorporates the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Program. These two systems are a great fit for any FBO or business aviation ground handler.

IS-BAH is the global industry standard for handlers and operators around the world to meet the coming SMS requirements from ICAO.

This standard really is achievable for any FBO or Business Aviation Handling Agent, small or large. Increasingly aircraft operators are gaining IS-BAO (International Standard - Business Aircraft Operators) certification, introduced in 2002 (after two years of development testing) and prefer to use FBO or BAHA that have, or are working towards, IS-BAH, as this gives them confidence that their aircraft will be handled by an organization that has invested in their staff and the industry standards for training and SMS.

Not only does IS-BAH offer FBO/BAHA the highest safety culture possible for their staff and clients, as with the Safety 1st training program, it may well help pay for itself through reduced insurance premiums, there is anecdotal evidence that underwriters are taking a positive view on IS-BAH and the reduction of risks it brings to ramp operations.

The National Air Transportation Association’s (NATA) successful Safety 1st Ground Audit program was incorporated into the new standard, setting a new and higher standard for Safety Management Systems and best practices throughout the business aviation ground support industry.

Day-to-day operation of the standard and audit processes is managed by IBAC.

Certification will also bring with it an added marketing bonus when it comes to promoting your business to aircraft operators.

The IBAC International Standards Support Services Affiliate (I3SA) Program has been established to improve the quality of support services provided by organizations assisting operators in implementing the IS-BAH.

Any reader who would like to discuss this topic further can contact the author at SafeRamps@GlobalFBOconsult.me

See related article by this author on Globalair.com “First in Africa – Small Investment, Large Results” 31 January 2017

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Fixed Based Operators (FBO) | Joe McDermott

Understanding RCAM

by Lydia Wiff 15. February 2017 09:00
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In July, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a draft Advisory Circular (AC) entitled Airport Field Condition Assessments and Winter Operations Safety.  Essentially, this draft AC cancels the previous AC 150/5200-30C, Airport Winter Safety and Operations from December of 2008. 

Changing ACs, regulations, etc., is no small task – this AC changes how conditions on the airfield are reported.  RCAM, or Runway Condition Assessment Matrix, is going to look a lot different than what pilots are expecting to see.  Today’s article will strive to shed some light on a new reporting system as we are now well into winter.

The Old Way

You might remember way back in your Private Pilot Ground School learning about Braking Action Reports (BARs for today’s purposes).  BARs included two correlating pieces of information:

1)      Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPS) – Pilots are expected to provide a PIREP to Air Traffic Control (ATC) if the braking action is less than “Good” (more on what consists of “Good” later).

2)      Runway Friction Mu Reports – These are often referred to as “Mu values”.  These numbers are typically shown as whole in the United Sates (U.S.) and as decimal values round to two places in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

a.      0 would be the lowest friction value, while 100 is the highest. 

b.      These values are given as an average of every third of the runway to generate a Mu value for the entire runway.  

c.       In addition to Mu values, there will be a contaminant conditions for each corresponding section of the runway (e.g., snow, slush, deicing chemicals, etc.). 

Lastly, pilots (at least in General Aviation) tend to pay attention to the words used to describe the runway conditions.  The following words have an attached meaning (AC91-79, Appendix 1):

a.      Good – the braking deceleration is normal for the effort applied and directional control is normal (Mu is 40 and above).

b.      Medium (Fair) – the braking deceleration is not as good and is more noticeable; directional control may be less (Mu is 35 to 30).

c.       Poor – braking is significantly reduced, as well as the potential for hydroplaning; directional control may be significantly reduced (Mu is 25 to 21).

d.      Nil – braking is minimal to nonexistent and directional control ability is uncertain (Mu of 20 and below).

As pilots, we most likely just were given a word or ATC telling us “Braking action is Fair”.  We did not often know the background behind what these values stand for.  Hopefully, this informs the average user a little more.  Next, I will discuss what the new system entails and how that is different for pilots.

The New Way

As of October 1st, 2016, under RCAM the braking action codes remain mostly the same with words such as “Good”, “Poor”, etc.  The biggest change is the replacement of “Fair” with “Medium” – they mean the same thing, however, the FAA decided to simply change the word.  The graphic below shows visually what the airport will use versus what a pilot will use.


As you will notice, the pilot still uses the word descriptors, while the airport is now using a numbering system that ranges from zero to six.  Zero is the “Nil” end while six is “Good”.  Zero can also be thought of as ice and six as completely clear.

It is important to note that the Runway Condition Codes (RCCs) are given for every third of the runway.  An example would be the following: 4/3/3.  Each third represents the parts of the runway: Touchdown, Midpoint, and Rollout.  These RCCs correlate with the Mu values that are measured by the friction tester, if the airport employs one. These RCCs helps a pilot to properly visualize what conditions are affecting what points of the runway.

As the descriptors of the conditions are somewhat lengthy, I will not go into detail in this post to describe each condition.  However, I would recommend that all pilots reference the FAA’s website as well as their home airport’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs) in addition to any field condition reports that might be issued as well.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this blog has shed some light on an interesting and somewhat confusing new regulation.  While pilots may see some slightly new wording in reports from airports, this rule affects many commercial airports especially when it comes to major snow events.  As this is the first winter that the new rule has been affect, it remains to be seen how airports are handling this new regulation.  Hopefully, it will be a safe winter season for all the hard-working Airport Operations personnel!

Have a comment on experiencing RCAM at your local airport?  Leave it below!

 

Images courtesy of Google.com.

 

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When you "assume"

by David Wyndham 3. February 2017 15:00
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The old saying goes that when you assume something it makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me." That's been demonstrated numerous times. The word assumption does have several definitions. The one in reference above is listed first below. I want to discuss the second definition in relation to the first.

1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof

2. the action of taking or beginning to take power or responsibility

The key term to the first definition is "without proof." If we invoke definition two, and take responsibility for defining and offering a level of proof to the assumption, then we have a powerful tool for communication and negotiation. 

In a talk given by James Lara of Greystone Partners at the 2016 NBAA annual meeting, he was discussing the difficulties many of us find in developing a budget. Many times we get into struggles or face the limits of "do more with less." James stated that if you agree on the assumptions to use in developing the budget, the rest becomes straightforward.  With respect to the budget, first agree what the assumptions are. How many trips or hours are needed this year by how many passengers? How many days on the road are needed? What standards do we train to and what are the crew-rest and time-off policies? If fuel cost, salaries, insurance levels, and other costs are mostly a given, then all that remains is the calculation of the total costs to deliver the transportation, safety, and service levels we have just agreed to (assume). If there is a disagreement on the numbers, refer back to the agreed-to assumption that leads to the number. 

This applies to all sorts of communications and relationships. What are the assumptions we are dealing with and are we in agreement? We had this recently at work. We were discussing an issue with one of our software products. When several of us got on a call to discus it, we first had to decide whether it was a problem with the software feature not working correct or whether we didn't communicate to folks what the feature was supposed to do. Once we decided that the issue was the feature didn't do what it was supposed to do, we then set out to reconfigure the feature. And yes, to communicate with our customers better is needed, too. We avoided a lot of wasted time by agreeing what the assumption was in relation to the software before we went down the path to fix it.

This also helps in our relations with other people. With one client, we were tasked to look at their staffing. One area where the assumptions were quite different was in respect to the "free time" when the pilots were on the road. If the aircraft owner went to Barbados for a week, the plane and crew stayed down there as well. On one hand, it sounds good to have a few days in Barbados.  But the pilots are not with family. They are not able to be totally free with their time in case the aircraft owner changes plans. So is this assumed to be work or time off? 

If you are creating a new position or moving someone into a new position, you need to make sure they understand what the job duties and performance criteria are. Helping a client select an aircraft? Do they assume a single-engine turboprop is a safe and cost-effective alternative or are they nervous fliers who want two engines and two pilots at all times? 

Too often we assume the other person has the same assumptions, goals, and reasons for being as we do. When we run into resistance, we can be taken aback to find that is not always true. Checking that your assumptions are in alignment with the other person can avoid many issues and miscommunications. Make it your responsibility to check in with the other person to at least agree on what the baseline considerations are. It's time well spent.

 

 

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Aircraft Sales | David Wyndham | Flight Department

The Best Free Online Aviation Resources

by Tori Williams 1. February 2017 20:30
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It’s no secret, being a pilot is expensive. Especially during the initial training phase where you have to worry about plane rental, fuel costs, paying your instructor, purchasing study materials, paying for written exams and checkride fees. That doesn’t even include the hundreds of dollars you spend on a headset, kneeboard, charts, foggles, and any other required materials for beginning your piloting career or hobby.

While it is worth spending a little extra money for quality flight training, there are also plenty of free resources available for student pilots to take advantage of. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite completely free aviation resources for you to check out and hopefully benefit from! Do you have a favorite free resource? Let me know in the comments below!

1. FAA FAR AIM

As any good student pilot knows, the Federal Aviation Regulations are everything. Love them or hate them, you’re going to have to know and understand a good chunk of them for your checkride. Luckily for you, these regulations are publically available for free on the FAA Website. This might not be the most exciting news, but it is handy for quick reference if you don’t have a physical copy on hand.

2. Podcasts

I was surprised by the amount of times I heard my fellow pilots talking about aviation podcasts that they listened to while I was at my flight university. As it turns out, there are quite a few great quality podcasts out there for new and seasoned pilots alike. A few of my favorites are The Finer Points, Coffee Break Flight Instruction, and Airplane Geeks. There are tons more out there with topics ranging from flight instruction to military aircraft to aviation current events. A quick Google search can bring up dozens!

3. AOPA Student Resources

An AOPA membership is known for being a great resource to the world of aviation, but they also have several free resources available without a membership. Student pilots have access to tons of articles, event calendars, and flight planning tools right at their fingertips. To sweeten the deal, AOPA is offering 6 months of free membership to student pilots, including 6 monthly issues of their Flight Training Magazine. That’s an offer you can’t refuse!

4. Pilots of YouTube

For someone like me who is an extremely visual learner, YouTube has been a lifesaver. A quick search on YouTube for “flight training” resulted in 5,180,000 videos. Of course, not all of these are going to be winners. However, there are several that have a great way of explaining private and instrument pilot techniques and information. I highly recommend poking around to see what has been created, or searching for the specific problem you are stuck on.

5. GlobalAir.com

Did you know that the very site you are on right now has several wonderful (and completely free!) aviation resources? Our Aviation Directory is a great source to find links to all things in the flying world. Check out the “Airport Resource” tab to look up detailed information about any airport, or to check the fuel prices at thousands of airports around the nation. There is so much you can learn from the information listed on GlobalAir.com. Go ahead and check it out!

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Aviation Safety | Flying | Tori Williams

BasicMed: A Big Deal?

by Lydia Wiff 1. February 2017 08:00
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Several months ago, I wrote about the 3rd Class Medical Reform and what it meant for pilots.  Recently, the FAA published a new rule called BasicMed which is the latest in the medical reform issue. 

In a Nut Shell

In the wake of the 3rd Class Medical Reform ruling, BasicMed comes as a relief for pilots that have held a valid medical certificate within the last 10 years – this look-back period starts July 15, 2016 and applies to regular and special issuance medical certificates.  However, you cannot just go back to flying if you had a medical certificate revoked in that period.

First, pilots must find a state-licensed physician and complete the associated checklist for the BasicMed.  Next, an online aeromedical course must be taken and passed.  These tasks must be done in that order as the information will need to be transmitted on successful completion.  The online course has to be taken every two years and pilots must visit their primary physician every four years at least.

As we saw in the 3rd Class Reform ruling, the pilots that complete the prerequisites for BasicMed will be able to fly aircraft with up to six passengers and weighing up to 6,000 pounds, in IFR or VFR, day or night, up to 18,000 feet and 250 knots in the United Sates.  However, BasicMed prohibits flying for compensation or hire.  While not being able to exercise the privilege of a full commercial license, it is important to note that some preexisting medical conditions make flying for hire inherently dangerous.

Currently, there is not an online aeromedical course, but AOPA.org is currently working to have the FAA approve their course “Fit to Fly”.

What This Means for General Aviation

This particular ruling is a big deal for those in general aviation.  This means that many pilots that were precluded under the old 3rd Class Medical rules now have the chance to take to the skies again at a reduced cost with almost all of their previous privileges, excluding flying for hire.  While the ruling is but days old at this point, it will be interesting to see if this will revitalize the general aviation population and perhaps to encourage younger generations to fly. 

Is this rule a big deal?  Of course!  As a proponent of general aviation, anything that gets people out there back flying is a good thing.  As someone who has seen friends lose their medicals for innocuous reasons, I hope BasicMed allows them to get back to the skies where they belong.

Have comments? Leave them below!

For more on this rule, check out these articles:

EAA & AOPA

 

Images courtesy of Google.com

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Aviation Medical | Aviation Safety | Lydia Wiff



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