December 8, 2009

The joint meeting of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association (PNBAA) and the Pacific Rim Schedulers & Dispatchers Association (PRSDA) at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on November 12 underscored the synergies that are possible when local business aviation groups collaborate.

Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s Northwest regional representative, said that the leaders of the two local groups – Jim Bennett, chair of the PNBAA Board, and Kim Ruth, an officer of PRSDA – demonstrated how working together can advance the interests of the entire business aviation community, as well as the associations themselves.

PNBAA and PRSDA officials organized a riveting luncheon program in which former AMI Jet Charter Chairman and CEO Chuck McLeran and other former members of the AMI/TAG Aviation leadership team for the first time publicly revealed the details of the FAA investigation and subsequent October 2007 certificate revocation that eventually led to the demise of the charter company.

McLeran’s story, along with firsthand accounts provided by other participants in the panel discussion, was a cautionary tale for not only the capacity crowd of nearly 200 people who assembled to hear them speak, but to all those involved in FAR Part 135 operations nationwide.

Don Hitch, president of Flight Partners Group and the PNBAA board member who coordinated the November 12, meeting, said the program was put together due to the “numerous inquiries from the industry and colleagues” who wanted to hear what really happened during the operational control enforcement action. Hitch, a former AMI executive himself, asked the other principals involved in the landmark FAA case to shed some light on their experience, saying, it was important to understand the details so as “to create an environment where this could not happen again.” Hitch also hoped that reviewing the details of the AMI case would create “an opportunity to enhance the relationship between the regulators and the industry.”

AMI Jet Charter’s compelling story sparked in-depth conversations among the flight department managers, pilots, schedulers, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who attended the Seattle meeting, and their diverse perspectives enriched the discussion that followed the AMI presentation.

Clearly, “Lessons Learned” was a fitting title for the event, and the joint meeting is expected to lead to other collaborative efforts in the Pacific Northwest, which, in turn, will make possible cross-pollination of ideas among the professionals in Seattle’s business aviation community, as well as the industry as a whole.