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Texas ‘Smackdown' Mobilizes Local Safety Expertise

February 1, 2011

At the dawn of business aviation, around the middle of the last century, the general aviation side of the airport was a friendly, close-knit community, according to NBAA Regional Representative Steve Hadley, based in Waco, TX. NBAA Southwest Regional Representative Steve Hadley says the don't have the time or the budgets to attend in-service training and obtain advanced safety certification.

"Really, the way business aviation used to be, decades ago, was flight departments helping other flight departments," Hadley reported on a recent edition of the NBAA Flight Plan podcast. "These days, you may not even know the people in the hangar next to yours."

Compound that notion, he said, with the current economy and you see an especially distinct impact on smaller flight departments. Hadley believes people who work in such operations don't have the time or the budgets to attend in-service training and obtain advanced safety certification.

Enter an organization called the Partnership for Corporate Aviation Training – PCAT. "It's a unique initiative started by a bunch of flight departments in San Antonio," Hadley said. "The concept is getting back to what corporate aviation used to be."

Flight department employees at Zachary's, HEB and Valero Energy have combined efforts to form PCAT. Valero pilot Ben Lewis is the organization's president.

"There might be flight departments out there that just can't afford to… take this training with vendors at other locations," Lewis said. Hence, the concept of a Safety "Smackdown."

The three-day event features more than 40 classes on topics that range from Crew Resource Management, to food safety, to international considerations for domestic operators.

The cost: $100 per participant, excluding accommodations and classes with minimal extra fees. The Safety Smackdown runs Feb. 1–3. For more information, check the PCAT web site at www.p4cat.org.

"We do want to make this a national effort," Lewis said, "because that will affect as many flight departments as possible," he said. "It helps all of us."

Listen to the NBAA Flight Plan podcast about PCAT's Safety "Smackdown."