“I lease from Signature; I’m just a sub-tenant – which was deliberate, by the way. It was deliberate because, for any reason we can pick up our operation and go. I’ve been asked to go to other Chicago airports because of the amount of fuel and other things that we buy; not that I want to go anyplace else. But if we have an airport landlord that becomes unreasonable, I can leave.
On how technology is improving the way Part 135 charter operations track their aircraft and personnel ...
“When TAG Aviation got in trouble and FAA came in, as I understand it, and asked where was your G-IV and was it legal and were the crews legal, the answer was yes. They said, prove it.
“None of us could prove that because we didn’t deal up to that point as an industry with flight releases. Generally what would happen in most operations is we would look at the schedule board and see an airplane that was going from A to B. You’d look at the crew and you had a feel for the match of the crew. You were really doing a risk evaluation. But there was never any documentation saying what you did. If you didn’t like the mix [of crew, aircraft, destination airport], you’d start changing things around and informally had a risk evaluation that passed muster.
“When this happened with TAG we all woke up and said, wait a minute, we better be able to document it. Many of us started documentation that saw the director of maintenance sign off that the aircraft was good to go; the director of flight operations signed off that the crew’s duty times have been met and they’ve been properly trained. Then, the captain of the flight would sign off that the crew is intact and the airplane is ready.
“We started keeping those records. We’re in the final testing process now of doing all that stuff on the new I-Pads; it’s all electronic.
“If one of our airplanes lands in Bangkok, for example, they transmit all of that vital information – engine records; landings; approaches – back to the home base. It’s almost real-time. We’re working on it together with our FSDO. I’ve told them that I’ll give them access to our computer and show where our airplanes are. We have no secrets.
“We’re going live with the flight release part next week. We have five of these units in use for the testing phase.”
On the rapid pace of technological change ...
“It goes back to where we started the conversation: What does the customer need? What does the industry look like? And how do we keep up with it? I’d be scared to death, without this technology, to have airplanes around the world where we have locations. We get information from Bangkok just as fast as we get it from Houston.”
Some thoughts from the road and from screening current events ...
Priester's Charge NATA chairman is spearheading a campaign to educate citizens about the value of their airports BY John F. Infanger, editorial director November / December...