Sept. 21, 2015

The Small Flight Department Subcommittee of the NBAA Domestic Operations Committee is moving forward with an initiative designed to better support flight operations that have only one or two aircraft and a similar number of employees.

Members of approximately 15 small flight departments recently participated in a conference call designed to establish the subcommittee’s new priorities. The consensus was that the subcommittee needs to:

  • Identify ways to tailor safety management systems to small flight departments.
  • Define best practices for scheduling maintenance inspection tasks in one-aircraft flight departments
  • Share best practices for small flight department budgeting
  • Develop personnel solutions for small flight departments so full-time pilots can take training, sick time and vacations without adversely affecting airplane availability

“Interest in this effort has been overwhelming,” said subcommittee Chair David Keys, who manages the flight department at Peace River Citrus Products in Florida. “When [NBAA staff liaison] Brian Koester told me how many people (more than 50) expressed an interest in the Small Flight Department Subcommittee, I felt we’d hit a nerve.”

Keys noted, “We even got an email from a small operator in Asia saying, ‘I need help.’ I think that is a sign this effort will be a huge benefit.”

Of NBAA’s operating Members, 80 pecent are small flight departments, which have only one or two aircraft.

“I hope we can become a conduit between those who need this kind of valuable information and those who have been gathering it for years,” Keys said. “‘Mentoring’ is a great word for this effort. When a small flight department with relatively new leadership is struggling with one or more of these issues, we want to match them up with some of the more experienced folks in our industry who have the SMS, budgeting or manpower experience and are eager to pass it along.”

Keys and Koester hope the subcommittee will be able to teleconference once a month and meet in person twice a year with the larger Domestic Operations Committee to set priorities and provide networking opportunities.