Executive Jet guidelines seek to ensure and upgrade quality service for clients, entire industry
BY John Boyce, Contributing Editor
Is it the wave of the future or the proverbial 800-pound gorilla throwing its weight around? Executive Jet, Inc., operator of NetJets, the fractional aircraft ownership pioneer, says its Fixed Base Operator Requirements, a detailed listing of the elements of service and management that EJ's preferred FBOs should comply with, is not meant as a bullying, do-it-or-else document. It is, EJ says, simply asking the FBO community to adhere to a certain level of safety, quality, and service that will eventually upgrade FBO services overall.
Says Scott Liston, EJ's senior vice president for standards and corporate development, "We're a large consumer within the FBO business, but we do not throw our weight around like an 800-pound gorilla.... It's absolutely not a contract, it's not an agreement. It does not force them (FBOs) into anything....
"We believe that this requirements package ... is something that will allow them to do more business, do it more safely, more efficiently.
"Whether business comes from Executive Jet or any of the other customers they have is irrelevant; we believe this requirements package doesn't just work for Executive Jet, but it's going to improve the service they give to every single airplane from the Bonanza to the Blimp that pulls up on their ramp."
Executive Jet is nearing completion of a development process for the Requirements document and will circulate it to FBOs that have historically serviced EJ aircraft and any others interested in complying with the requirements. The document, which includes input from FBOs around the country, is, according to EJ director of vendor relations Paul Schweitzer, 99 percent complete. It runs the spectrum of recommendations, expectations, and demands for safety and service for their clients, the fractional owners of aircraft, and their aircraft and flight crews. It also asks that FBOs do a lot of reporting to EJ on changes in procedures, operations, and personnel.
WIDE VARIETY OF EXPECTATIONS
The document's requirements range from normal aviation and airport certifications and periodic quality assurance reviews to a wide net of safety recommendations, such as the incorporation of NATA's Safety 1st program for line personnel. It has a requirement that FBOs notify EJ of changes in personnel and procedures and list all the FBO's fuel and service incentive programs. It requests that all preferred FBOs have facsimile and modem lines available for their passengers and crew and qualified attendants to take care of any other needs.
It also has a specific liability insurance necessity ($10 million minimum), specific requirements for certified towing equipment for various aircraft, and the number of line personnel to be available for different operations.
The document is long, requires a good deal of paperwork, and requests that FBOs sign an Agreement of Compliance, indicating that they have "read, understand, and will comply with the FBO Requirements when furnishing services to Executive Jet." Yet, many FBOs say the document is not overbearing.
"Quite frankly," says David Brinson, vice president and general manager of Piedmont Hawthorne at Dulles International, "the requirements they have are not particularly onerous. It just defines things that are pretty common sense. It's not something new, it's just kind of new that they put it in writing."
For Zachary Neds, line service manager at National Flight Services at Toledo (OH) Express Airport, EJ and operations like it are a major part of the future. "I think it's great," he says. "We welcome their business and anything we can do to standardize the FBO business."