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Blending Safety with Service

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With more than 40 years as an aviation professional, I figured I’d developed a fairly elevated safety consciousness.

And I had – at the airport, anyway. Working at home exclusively these past few months has required transferring that nine-to-five workday mentality to the home office. That was a reminder that safety in all walks of life is really a 24/7 proposition.

My years as a part-time home repairman taught me hand and power tool safety. But using a blender to mix frozen bananas with various powders, semi-solids, and liquids to create a healthy concoction that passes for breakfast requires a different safety awareness. Here’s Rule One: when scraping wet powders from the blender walls with a spoon to ensure complete mixing –UNPLUG the blender first!

No, I didn’t learn the hard way. I didn’t have to, as I was not-too-gently reminded that we have a friend who discovered that while flying aircraft are safe, flying kitchen utensils are not.

Flying aboard business aircraft today remains quite safe, despite the pandemic, as operators modify their Safety Management Systems to help ensure your safety. Our trade associations have taken aggressive steps to keep your flight department, aircraft management company, and fractional or charter operator informed of new procedures. The result has been the creation of new travel safety protocols involving aircraft cleaning, social distancing, and use of N95 masks.

For example, aircraft manufacturers and the NBAA have provided new aircraft cleaning and operating practices.

And the NATA has produced guidance for ground service providers to ensure that their facilities – passenger and crew lounges, offices and rest rooms – are clean and safe as well.

The Signature Flight Support FBO network is taking further steps, initiating the SignatureAssure program across its 200 plus locations worldwide to provide a uniform standard for safety, health, and wellness throughout its system.

That’s a good thing, because according to various industry reports, your flight activity is on track to return to previous levels. ARGUS International’s data show that while May 2020 business aviation flight activity was down 49% vs. a year ago, it was up 84.0% over April 2020. Fractionals alone were up 140.3%, individual flight department (Part 91) activity was up 85.0%, and commercial charter (Part 135) was up 70.4%.

These new safety protocols do slightly change the way you access your aircraft – you may have to remember to take a few more preparatory steps before boarding. But that’s not much different from remembering to unplug the blender before removing the lid. The upside to this crisis is that we’re all far more conscious of everyone’s safety than ever before. The challenge will be to maintain that awareness and continue relevant protocols when the emergency ends.

And don’t forget to unplug your toaster when not in use!

Gil Wolin
Gil Wolin is Publisher of Business Aviation Advisor magazine. A frequent speaker at national and regional events, Mr. Wolin is a member of the National Business Aviation Association, the Massachusetts Airport Management Association, and Business Aviation Professionals of New England. He currently serves on the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Presidential Advisory Board. He is a past director of the National Air Transportation Association, and a past member of the Corporate Angel Network Advisory Board.

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