Feb. 26, 2021

Industry experts shared advice for the often complex process of onboarding a new aircraft, during a session at the NBAA GO Flight Operations Conference.

“It’s difficult to find one person who knows everything about it,” said Tim Griffin, president of JetStream Aviation, a charter and aircraft management provider in Seattle, WA and Boise, ID. He emphasized the importance of using the right resources – inside your organization and outside it – and told attendees to first consider where they want to be with the aircraft on its first day on the line.

Will it fly Part 91 only or also Part 135? Will it operate domestically or operate international missions too? Considering these questions will help guide your onboarding process, Griffin added.

Next consider your personnel needs. Will you need one pilot? Two or more? Cabin crew? A maintenance technician? “Every flight department is unique,” said Ed White, CAM, vice president, aviation at MB Aviation, LLC, so don’t use someone else’s structure or process as “gospel.”

John Tuten, chief pilot at Honeywell International, urged attendees to plan early for training for pilots, mechanics, dispatchers or schedulers and cabin crew. He cautioned that some pilot training programs may require six months or more of notice.

Other considerations include insurance planning, which Griffin told attendees requires more time and information to manage than five or 10 years ago; maintenance considerations; fuel cards and even cabin set ups, such as linens and dishware.

Aircraft intended for Part 135 operations require additional considerations, including FAA approval of pilot training programs, operational authorization and marketing planning.

Finally, operators should consider aircraft delivery and entry to service. Where will aircraft acceptance take place? Some states and countries impose significant sales or transaction taxes so this is a critical question. Will certain passengers have priority to schedule the aircraft? Will pilots have an opportunity to train in the aircraft or only in a simulator?

When bringing a new aircraft into your organization, White suggested providing cabin familiarity training for frequent passengers. This should cover basic emergency equipment and also connectivity and passenger conveniences, he said.