June 2, 2020

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, and Stewart D’Leon, NBAA’s director of technical operations, recently moderated an association Leadership Council webinar, which included five aviation maintenance and management experts examining MRO operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Leadership Council webinar – an installment in a series of biweekly sessions with Bolen and other experts – was cosponsored by Duncan Aviation and West Star Aviation.

Panelists included:

  • Marc Drobny, president of business aviation at StandardAero
  • Jeff Lake, COO, Duncan Aviation
  • Suzanne Markle, president and CEO, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics
  • Jim Rankin, CEO, West Star Aviation
  • Kent Stauffer, vice president of quality, safety and technical programs at Constant Aviation

Stauffer acknowledged that while the webinar participants are frequently competitors, the industry should never compete on safety. That idea directly applies to this pandemic, and it’s imperative that the industry share best practices, Stauffer explained.

Panelists described their own companies’ practices, including requiring questionnaires about customers and aircraft, sanitizing aircraft thoroughly, limiting the number of visitors in their facilities and providing proper PPE.

Companies are relying more on digital communication tools to work with customers when a visit to the facility is not absolutely essential.

Panelists suggested establishing teams of technicians so if one technician becomes ill, contact tracing is simpler and the possible exposure is limited to a smaller group.

The experts also urged listeners not to ignore the workforce pipeline during this pandemic, especially considering the lead time needed to train qualified technicians. While demand might be impacted temporarily, it likely won’t significantly impact the long-term outlook.

“I don’t see for the industry a dip in demand for technicians due to COVID,” said Drobny.

Finally, the panelists agreed that supervisors, managers and business owners are encouraged to consider the human element of this pandemic and to take care of their employees and their families. Be cognizant of the impact of family needs, mental well-being and overall anxiety on your teams, they noted.

NBAA’s Leadership Council supports the association’s mission to promote an environment that fosters business aviation in the U.S. and around the world. Interested in joining the Leadership Council? Visit NBAA’s website.

View the Leadership Council webinar.