Safety Is No Accident

The natural thing for airplanes to do is to fly into the ground, and when they do, almost 80% of the time the causal factors in the crash are related to human error.  While pilots frequently play a role in human error attributed aircraft mishaps, very often lax management and oversight of operations play a significant role as well.

The NTSB investigation into the runway overrun and subsequent crash of a Challenger 600 at Teterboro airport in 2005 reads like a dog’s breakfast of criminally negligent management practices, inept operations, substandard aircrew training and nonexistent oversight by all involved (NTSB report can be found at: http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2006/AAR0604.pdf).  While this investigation rightly served as something of a call to action for the FAA’s oversight of aircraft charter operators, the fact remains that on demand air charter (“Part 135”) operators continue to have an extremely high aircraft mishap and fatality rate when compared to commercial airlines.

FAA regulations require much more stringent operating, maintenance, training and safety policies and procedures for commercial aircraft operators, including on demand air charter companies.  The fact is however, that operating aircraft for hire is an inherently and persistently low margin business and compliance with FAA regulations designed for passenger safety costs money .  Unfortunately, this compels some unscrupulous operators, owners and brokers to mislead clients, disguise or obscure issues of operational control and cut corners on maintenance and operations to increase profits (the story of Avantair should serve as a cautionary tale).

Customers of charter aircraft should use all available resources to ensure they fully understand the safety record and practices of a charter company before they use the firm.  Charter brokers, if used, are by definition far removed from the actual operations of a given flight (and therefore an aircraft mishap) and must be able to clearly demonstrate they use a deliberate, quantitative and industry standard safety vetting process when booking flights for clients, and that they fully understand the criticality of issues like Operational Control and other FAA regulations that govern passenger safety.

Aviation safety is not an accident, or something that just happens.  It is a well quantified system of adherence to policies, procedures, standardization and oversight that requires constant and persistent engagement by owners, operators, maintenance personnel, management, crew, brokers, passengers and regulators.

Blue Hawk Aviation provides expert aviation and aircraft advisory services and can match companies, individuals and families with the safest, most efficient private aviation solution.  Additionally, Blue Hawk advises on negotiations, partnerships, purchase arrangements, upgrades, delivery, management and operations issues.

Blue Hawk represents our client’s interests alone. We are not in the charter brokerage business, and do not accept referral fees or other consideration from service providers or vendors. 

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The hidden value of aircraft partnerships

6 Sept 2013

Brian Hennessy, Blue Hawk Aviation, LLC

A chief concern of companies or individuals considering an aircraft partnership is the cost of scheduling conflicts between the partners.   Even if your advisor has done a good job of arranging a complimentary partnership, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise from time to time.  However, the cost of ferrying your airplane back to base due to a conflict should be viewed as a small one, relative to the savings the partnership enabled.

A complimentary partnership arrangement will help minimize scheduling conflicts, however they will happen occasionally.  Practically speaking, the expense associated with these flights should be billed to the partner(s) as variable or “occupied” expense only, rather than total hourly cost (fixed + variable).  For a newer, efficient super-light jet this variable expense will be in the neighborhood of $2000/flight hour.  Additionally, the owners should have a well thought out agreement as to who pays these costs.  Different models exist, but Blue Hawk recommends in most cases that an agreement be built that encourages scheduling well in advance.

Critically, partners must view the reposition expense not as a cost only, but rather net of how much they save annually on the acquisition of the aircraft by having a partner.  For example, $60,000 of reposition expense annually looks pretty small in comparison to $350,000 of aircraft payments avoided annually due to the fact that your partner is paying for half of the airplane.

When considering reposition expense associate with aircraft partnerships, your advisor can and should model these net expenses as accurately as possible and include them in the final analysis.

Blue Hawk Aviation provides expert aviation and aircraft advisory services and can match companies, individuals and families with the safest, most efficient private aviation solution.  Additionally, Blue Hawk advises on negotiations, partnerships, purchase arrangements, upgrades, delivery, management and operations issues.

Blue Hawk represents our client’s interests alone. We do not accept referral fees or other consideration from service providers or vendors. 

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The Blue Hawk Needs Analysis

Your firm or personal travel solutions should be reviewed regularly for efficiency, cost effectiveness and a positive impact on productivity.  The optimal aviation program will help to drive growth, shareholder value or fully meet personal requirements, while the wrong solution can be a costly, inefficient nightmare.

Blue Hawk Aviation provides expert aviation and aircraft advisory services and can match companies, individuals and families with the safest, most efficient private aviation solution.  We are equally adept at periodically evaluating existing corporate aviation solutions relative to current and projected requirements, as well as finding the optimal solution for companies and individuals new to private aviation.

Factors related to safety, cost, scheduling, operations, contracts, and FAA regulatory compliance vary greatly between service providers.  Blue Hawk has the experience to analytically determine you or your firm’s true requirements and objectively find the best private aircraft travel solution(s) to meet these requirements.  Additionally, Blue Hawk can advise on negotiations, partnerships, purchase arrangements, upgrades and delivery issues.

Blue Hawk represents our client’s interests alone. We do not receive or accept referral fees or other consideration from service providers or vendors.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for references and to discuss how our services can benefit your clients.

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Blue Hawk System Safety Training

Blue Hawk recently delivered its half-day system safety training program to 188 senior managers and leaders at East Jefferson General Hospital.
The program includes sessions on:

  • Introduction to aviation safety
  • Mishap/adverse event investigation and human factors analysis
  • Crew Resource Management
  • Operational Risk Management

The training concludes with an interactive break-out session focused on a relevant medical adverse event investigation, including root cause analysis and human factors classification.

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Blue Hawk Aviation Services

Blue Hawk recently completed an aircraft performance analysis for the Ochsner Clinic Foundation.  Our analysis focused on validating vendor proposal claims, to include an analysis of aircraft performance as well as helipad location and limitations.

Blue Hawk Aviation can:

  • Establish/validate aviation program financial and performance requirements
  • Validate vendor proposals and/or assess vendor performance
  • Determine most efficient aviation solution or combination of solutions
  • Manage aircraft or vendor selection, negotiation and acquisition processes
  • Develop personal or corporate aviation program
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