Local and regional business aviation groups play a key role in engaging small flight departments and should make sure to include topics and resources for these operators in their programming and events, in addition to reaching out with offers of support or guidance.
“NBAA is supporting this effort by developing materials specific to the needs of smaller flight departments,” said David Keys, chair of NBAA’s Small Flight Department Subcommittee and president of the Central Florida Business Aviation Association (CFBAA). “But it’s important for larger flight departments to reach out and invite a conversation with smaller ones. Addressing safety and professionalism across all parts of business aviation is essential.”
If they don’t already, regional groups might consider holding meetings in various locations around their region, which would encourage more participation by smaller based operators at those locales.
Keys noted that finding one-aircraft, one- or two-pilot operators can be challenging, especially those that are based at more rural locations. “CFBAA has someone who actually goes airport to airport and knocks on doors, talks to pilots and visits hangars,” said Keys. “We also challenge our members to find possible new members right at their own airport. FBOs and airport managers can also be helpful.”
As chief pilot for a small department himself, Keys understands the constraints many of these operators have. “We already wear many hats,” he noted. “But everybody should take the time if it means being safer and more professional.”
If they don’t already, regional groups might consider holding meetings in various locations around their region, which would encourage more participation by smaller operators at those locales.
Posting event notices in FBOs and hangars at airports is also a way to try and reach smaller operators, according to John Gale, president of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association (PNBAA).
“We also encourage our members to get involved with their local airport associations,” said Gale, adding that PNBAA makes sure that it has a small flight department representative on its board.
Also, ensuring that fees for group membership are scaled appropriately for smaller operators and having free networking events is helpful.
Having event programming geared toward smaller operators is essential to encouraging their participation, says Homestate Insurance Group Chief Pilot John Foster, who is also a member of the Small Flight Department Subcommittee.
“At a previous safety smackdown that we were invited to, I brought several other small flight department pilots with me,” said Gale. “It was helpful for us to see how bigger flight departments did things, and how we can scale that for best practices in our operation.”
AZBAA Represents the Industry in the Grand Canyon State
The Arizona Business Aviation Association (AZBAA), which was founded in 2000, provides business aviation a voice at the local, state and regional level. In addition to helping address industry concerns, AZBAA is focused on its educational mission. The group provides several generous scholarships annually to deserving recipients and continues to foster careers in business aviation. An annual golf event raises about $50,000 each year for the scholarship program.
“We are also beginning to reach out more to schools and participate in career expos,” explained AZBAA President Douglas Young. He noted that finding qualified business aviation staff continues to be a concern among AZBAA members.
The association facilitates networking by hosting monthly member meetings. Happy hours at local establishments are also very popular.
“We are looking forward to getting more people involved,” said Young, who anticipates an uptick in membership due to an increase in the number of Arizona-based business aircraft.
Meetings are mostly held in the Scottsdale/Phoenix region, but the group tries to include and reach out to members across the state.
AZBAA will be hosting its annual safety day in-person this year on Nov. 11 at Scottsdale Airport.