Sept. 19, 2016
Are pre- and post-flight briefings part of your scheduling department’s standard operating procedures? If not, maybe they should be. Pre- and post-flight briefings between schedulers and dispatchers, flight crews, maintenance and even, in some cases, passenger representatives, can help improve safety, security, efficiency and passenger experience.
“Communication is so important,” said Holly Pendleton, a flight operations coordinator at Aflac. “With a pre- and post-flight briefing, we help pilots avoid playing a guessing game.”
Common items for discussion in domestic pre- flight briefings include possible schedule changes, weather forecasts, FBO preferences, ground transportation arrangements, and pilot and passenger contact information while at the destination.
Some flight departments focus only on international pre- flight briefings, which add passenger and crew documents, required or recommended vaccinations, overflight and landing permits, and other customs and handling information.
Flight departments that successfully use post-flight briefings recommend having pilots keep notes of any important information during the trip. Upon their return, pilots share their notes with their schedulers. A summary of the post- flight briefings and the pilots’ notes are saved in a profile for each destination.
One flight department invites their schedulers, maintenance personnel, flight crews (including any contractors), company security specialists and the passengers’ administrative assistants or other representatives to a pre-flight conference call the business day before the trip. In addition to the standard items noted above, the call covers how passengers will arrive and depart the home base hangar, any early deliveries of baggage or products and, for longer trips with multiple passengers, a berthing plan so passengers know what to expect regarding sleeping arrangements.
“These calls align our team on the same page,” said one flight department scheduling manager. “They also help people realize there’s a broader circle of people supporting the flight. The calls connect people so if things go wrong due to weather or other scenarios, you know who else is involved with the flight.”
Pre-flight briefings calls, even for short domestic flights, are critical because every trip can be different. These calls also help the flight department anticipate or respond to schedule changes.
After each call, the itinerary and notes are sent to each participant as a calendar event, covering the entire span of the trip. (The event shows as free time to avoid blocking the recipient’s calendar.) This keeps critical information, as well as any changes, at each person’s fingertips for the duration of the trip.
Also consider conducting special briefings with new passengers or their representatives. A short briefing with new passengers can help set expectations.
“New passengers might not know what to expect when flying on a business jet,” said Pendleton. “They also might not be aware of the services we can provide.”
Small flight departments can also benefit from briefings, even if they are less formal. MCM Aviation uses briefings so schedulers can help pilots prepare for a trip and pilots can share information following a journey.
“We try to think of everything that could be a pitfall,” said Paul Giansiracusa of MCM Aviation. “Briefings are especially important for a trip to a new location. They help us get our ducks in a row.”
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2016 issue of Business Aviation Insider.
Download the magazine app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.