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Kern Recipient Reflects on Safety Keys That Served Him Well

Boyd Brokaw learned early in his career that patience, combined with communication, are vitally important to maintaining aviation safety. Together, he believes they form the foundation of effective flight deck resource management and are critical to flight department teams and the people they serve.

Brokaw, the head of aviation for IAC/Expedia Global LLC, is among nine recipients of NBAA’s 2023 Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

“Most passengers don’t want answers, they want options,” says Brokaw. “This is where communications come into play.” For example, an airplane on the ground during an international flight is an issue that would impinge on safety, he says. Focusing solely on department needs and capabilities, an initial response to the situation might be: “We’ll send another airplane to pick you up, but the crew will need 10 hours of rest before they can fly you home.”

But Brokaw says this option may not best meet the needs of passengers, who may have more time sensitive priorities. Communication and gathering all the facts involved in the situation is what leads to efficient, effective decisions. “If time is critical, we might offer to charter an airplane for a clearly communicated price as one of several other options to address the situation,” Brokaw says.

“The more you openly and honestly communicate with your passengers, the more smoothly and efficiently things run,” he explains. “The primary goal is to be as transparent as you can be. The more facts everyone has, the fewer rumors you’ll have to deal with.”

This is a lesson he learned during his 25-year career at Eastman Kodak, and he continued to share this philosophy when IAC hired him as director of safety almost 10 years ago. After six years in that position, he became IAC’s chief pilot, and three years later was named head of the aviation group.

Brokaw says IAC’s Part 91 flight department operates a total of four aircraft based in Teterboro, NJ, and Des Moines, IA.

“Everyone in the 25-member department is on the frontline with clients,” he says. “Our company is an incubator for tech startups like Expedia, Match, Vimeo and Angi. Working with them has reinforced the importance of being thoughtful and need to communicate, communicate, communicate.”

His mentors have shared this advice over the years: Patience, reinforced with persistence, is an important aspect of efficient, effective communication. And Brokaw, leading by example, imparts it to his team. He continues to fly in his current role, but Brokaw says his primary goal is to help the IAC/Expedia Global aviation team to “continue its development as an industry leader in professionalism and just culture.”

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Nine individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2023. Established in 2015 to honor its namesake, the 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 Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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