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Kern Award Winner Terry Ickes: Making Data Analytics Understandable to Fellow Pilots

June 23, 2021

As those in the industry are aware, business aircraft pilots have numerous responsibilities beyond flying a plane. And as aviation becomes increasingly technologically advanced, with computers and data playing an ever more important role, pilots with strong technical abilities are in demand.

Terry Ickes is one of them. During his 20 years with The Home Depot flight department, Ickes has risen from line pilot to assistant chief pilot, and his data analytics skills have had more than a little to do with that. The avowed “data geek” was the department’s flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) and safety reporting system gatekeeper for six years, providing detailed data reporting and other important information regarding the department and its aircraft. He also is involved in the department’s IS-BAO audit preparations and flight operations manual and SOP management and updating.

“I’m fortunate in that my technical inclinations got me involved in leadership,” said Ickes. “I love looking at the data, seeing what the challenges are and using it to improve ourselves. The data also helps reinforce to management that we do a good job. There’s a lot of pride in that for pilots.”

Ickes believes that the data from FOQA and other analytics helps The Home Depot pilots recognize the challenges that are inherent – and increasing – with the man/machine interface.

“I like taking the data coming from FOQA or from pilot reports and boiling it down to something that is informative to a pilot,” he said.

In addition to his analytical duties at The Home Depot, Ickes also plays a key support role for the chief pilot, with some of the department’s other pilots reporting to him. Ickes flies a little bit less because of his other obligations, but he still is a Falcon 900 and 2000 captain.

Ickes has come a long way from refueling aircraft at an FBO in Harrisburg, PA during college. His career trajectory – made possible by the way he developed his computer expertise – exemplifies the Kern Award principle of continuous improvement and professional engagement.

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Nine individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2020. Created in 2015 to honor Dr. Tony Kern, this peer-nominated award recognizes individual pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who excel in leadership in the areas of professional ethics, vocational excellence, continuous improvement, professional engagement, professional image and selflessness.

Learn more about the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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