June 28, 2020

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen moderated an NBAA Leadership Council webinar on Thursday, June 25 in which panelists discussed corporate flight operations, with a focus on the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a new Pilot Records Database that would impact a large portion of the business aviation community that is not currently subject to reporting requirements.

Joining Bolen on the webinar were Michael Wallis, executive director, flight operations for Merck Sharp & Dohme; Mike Benson, JM Family Enterprises chief pilot; Zane Lambert, Sanderson Farms manager of aircraft operations; Brian Vaught: director of aviation for Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; Elizabeth Dornak, DuPont de Nemours, Inc.’s director of aviation and Phil Hoyme, director of operations for Immaculate Flight, which was also the sponsor of the webinar.

Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs, explained details of the NPRM.

“FAA is proposing a host of additional reporting requirements for Part 91 operators that utilize two or more type-rated aircraft, which represents approximately 1,500 operators in the United States,” Carr said. “NBAA believes our industry will face a substantial burden with zero safety benefits from the NPRM. The comment period closes on Monday, June 29, and we’re encouraging our members to provide comments to the public docket as soon as possible.”

View NBAA’s Regulatory Alert and send comments to the FAA.

Wallis described how his company’s flight department already has a “robust” record-keeping program.

“I have great concerns how our company’s legal department would see this NPRM from a nondisclosure standpoint, not just for our liability for Merck, but for the individual who may be here and moving on to another company,” Wallis said.

Operating Observations

In discussing how their companies are handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Dornak said DuPont has had a pandemic plan in place since 2007.

“We had pandemic kits for our aircraft in large Pelican cases already loaded with N-95 masks, PPE and disinfecting supplies, so we pulled them out in March to use,” she said. “DuPont has a strong safety culture and being prepared helped us get in front of the situation.”

Hoyme said his company is the largest private aircraft detailing company in the country and services about 275 aircraft each week.

“Right now, we’re seeing a huge jump in fractional and charter flights, with the biggest slowdown from flight departments who regularly go to Asia or Europe,” he said. “We’re excited to say that even with our employees being on the front line, we have had no positive cases of COVID-19 with any of our employees.”

Wallis said his company has been proactive in helping distribute supplies. In the beginning of the pandemic, when masks and PPE were very difficult to find, Merck distributed 750,000 masks in the New Jersey and New York area, he said.

Leadership Council webinars provide a unique opportunity for members to share their experiences with their peers and hear from industry experts.

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