In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s largest FBO network, Signature Flight Support, has reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest safety, health and wellness standards in the FBO industry by launching SignatureAssure.
The comprehensive COVID-19 response includes measures that encompass social distancing, employee readiness, facility cleanliness and aircraft safety standards. The roll-out coincides with a gradual increase in aircraft operations throughout the world and includes the deployment of several technological advancements, including electrostatic sprayers, pulse oximeters, and touchless thermometers.
To ensure the well-being of both team members and visitors, Signature has made a number of modifications to FBO facilities and enhanced its standard operating procedures. These include implementing a comprehensive 50-point cleaning checklist, which is completed multiple times a day.
These rigorous cleaning procedures are supported by using electrostatic sprayers at high-traffic Signature FBO locations, allowing large areas such as lobbies, lounges, and vehicles to be sanitized quickly through the use of a sterile fog.
By Emma Kelly.
Australian hotel investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is hoping to launch operations from Sydney’s first commercial, rooftop helipad atop his Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour hotel from 2022.
The entrepreneur recently launched the consultation process for the proposal in an effort to revive Sydney’s economy and boost its business and tourism profile in the post-COVID-19 economic downturn. The city previously had a commercial helipad up until the 1980s when it was removed during the redevelopment of the area. The city’s only existing public helipads are at Bankstown and Mascot airports, outside of the central business district.
“Given the devastation to Sydney’s tourism and business economy as a result of Coronavirus, there is no better time to introduce the concept of a CBD helipad to help revive the city’s economic fortunes,” says Dr Schwartz.
The proposal would see a permanent helipad installed on the roof of the 38-storey Sofitel, which is adjacent to the city’s International Convention Centre (ICC) and is in the heart of the Darling Harbour business, tourism and convention precinct. The helipad would also be available for use by emergency services.
Scotland’s regional airline Loganair has joined up many missing gaps on the former Flybe route map, but we can’t do everything, otherwise we’d be ‘Flybe the sequel,’ CEO Jonathan Hinkles said last week.
Speaking on an Anna.aero webinar he highlighted UK, Scandinavia and Ireland are key markets. He wishes to do more in Ireland, but it will have to wait for the fleet upgrade planned for 2020/2023. The sectors are relatively long and the yield is low. The best aircraft for that is the ATR72-600 and we only have two in the fleet, currently.
“Tackling those markets is a bit like going into the garden to attack the hedge with kitchen scissors - you do yourselves more damage and not make a dent in the hedge.” A solution (to give more connectivity) is to ‘combine markets’ and this is likely over the next 18 months. For example, serving Cardiff to Edinburgh with stops in Manchester or Leeds. Loganair returns its Dundee route to London City Airport ‘spiritual home’ (with Suckling/Scot Airways) - from July 6th. It recognises more opportunities in Southampton, including the 14 (500km) routes to France Flybe covered, but it’s not for us. “It’s a long way from home -Southampton to Bergerac.” Could someone make money out of it? Sure, he said.
By Keith Mwanalushi.
Airports across the UK regions are gradually opening to domestic and international traffic following the resumption of airline operations and the easing of travel restrictions across Europe, writes Keith Mwanalushi.
Newcastle International Airport saw the return of scheduled passenger flights from June 1st. “We had two flights per day throughout the first half of June - one flight per day to Aberdeen with Loganair and one to Amsterdam with KLM. This will increase to six flights per day with six airlines by the end of June,” Graeme Mason, the airport’s Planning and Corporate Affairs Director tells Resilient Aviation.
In readiness for passengers returning, the airport announced a Ten Point Plan at the end of May, put in place to ensure the terminal is a safe environment for passengers and staff.
By Angus Batey.
As Resilient Aviation has been reporting since the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis, there are good reasons for private-aviation service providers to be optimistic about the shape of the business on the other side of lockdown.
But, one operator argues, the sector needs to look again at its pricing strategy if companies are to emerge stronger.
"Some operators have become very good because they've taken it head-on," says Alex Durand, CEO of Norwich Airport, UK-based rotary and fixed-wing charter operator and FBO, SaxonAir and Deputy Chair of BBGA. "It takes 10 times the effort to do a flight, but it can be done. You'd think, surely you could charge a premium for doing that [significant extra work], but we're seeing an even deeper race to the bottom, because everybody is desperate. There's far too little work going around, so somebody, somewhere is going to do it for the lowest price."
These discomfiting facts have sometimes forced SaxonAir to take the counter-intuitive step of leaving their own aircraft on the ground and fulfilling a booking with third-party aircraft.
"We're not rushing to put our own aircraft into service, and we're actually using other operators because they're cheaper than we're prepared to go - which is not good for us," he says.
Is business aviation cleared for takeoff?
As countries begin to ease social distancing mandates, what are the challenges faced by the business aviation industry as the COVID-19 pandemic continues?
ARGUS International has leveraged the TRAQPak Flight Tracking Data to provide you with the key factors and the industry challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
International Aviation Womens Association:
Leading a multinational company through the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and creating a Charter for gender equality are all topics on the table from three of the founding members of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter (WIAAC), who will lead a panel at the General Aviation Leadership Forum from the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) being held on 25th June 2020.
All three are senior leaders from three of the WIAAC founding companies: Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Virgin Atlantic. The Steering Board is co-chaired by Katherine Bennett CBE, Senior Vice President at Airbus and the President Elect of IAWA, and Sumati Sharma CA, Vice President Special Projects at Virgin Atlantic. They will be joined on the panel by Jacqui Sutton, Chief Customer Officer – Civil Aerospace at Rolls-Royce.
The moderator of the panel will be journalist Liz Moscrop, who has reported for the BBC and Channel 4, as well as The Times, The Telegraph, FlightGlobal, Arabian Aerospace and Inflight. She now owns and runs GearUp.TV, a video company dedicated to the aviation sector.
AviationManuals publishes guide to Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL)
AviationManuals, the leading provider of digital operations manuals, has published a complimentary guide to understanding Minimum Equipment List (MEL) requirements.
"An MEL is the best and most widely accepted way to determine the conditions under which a flight can be commenced with inoperative equipment," said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. "This complimentary MEL guide helps flight departments understand where and when an MEL is required, and why they should consider getting one."
The MEL Guide describes:
* Differences between a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for aircraft types and a custom MEL for an operation's actual aircraft.
* Requirements for operators based on state of registry and area of operation.
* Value of a Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) program.
WINGX Global Market Tracker:
Rolling average daily flight activity has continued to improve in June 2020, with the 9,300 sectors operated on 16th June representing a 22% improvement compared to daily activity at the end of May, and more than 150% growth on the trough in daily activity in April.
WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker, published today, reveals that business aviation activity for the first half of June has already exceeded all activity in April, although still trending 33% below the first half of June in 2019. Scheduled aviation activity has shown less resilience, flights down almost 80%. Business aviation share of all fixed wing activity has grown from 12% pre-crisis, to 28% in June.
By region, North America continues to show strongest recovery in business aviation, trailing 30%, with business aviation activity in the core US market 27% sub-par, and only 17% behind 2019 during the most recent weekend in June. European flight activity is still lagging, 48% down on June last year. There is significant variance among countries, with business aviation flights from Germany down by only 26%, Croatia and Sweden around 20% below, Switzerland, Sweden and Russia 30%-40% below, France 50% down. The UK and Spain are the laggards, activity in both markets down by 70%. The UK has suffered a clear setback in its recovery since the quarantine came into force on 8th June.
Resilient Aviation speaks with Kate Sarsfield.
Kate Sarsfield is the Business and General Aviation Editor for the world’s oldest weekly aviation magazine Flight International - which marked its 110th anniversary in 2019 - and leading aviation news and analytics website Flightglobal. Based near London, she reports on aircraft manufactures, suppliers and operations within this large and diverse sector.
This has been the most unprecedented time for aviation and business aviation too. What sort of stories have you been covering, and how is the sector showing resilience?
I’ve been covering a range of stories; of course Covid-19 related issues dominated the news agenda early on as aircraft orders, deliveries, production and movements slowed, and the industry started to adjust to what you rightly describe as “the most unprecedented time” for business aviation.
It’s been very tough, but the industry has shown tremendous resilience. Operators for example have adapted to changing environment by taking on invaluable repatriation and humanitarian work and flying cargo in the place of passengers. Many of our readers are now experiencing Covid story-fatigue, which I can appreciate, so thankfully, there is plenty of other news to report on. Innovation don’t stop during a crisis, and this industry is testament to that with a host of new designs in the works from small electric aircraft and urban air mobility vehicles to turboprops and large-cabin, long-range business jets. Watch this space!
Since I was a young boy I was fascinated by aircraft. The owner of a castle near my parents’ house regularly made aerobatic flights in an SV4 Stampe biplane over our garden.
After attending the Académie des Beaux Arts in Brussels, and rewarded with a commercial artist’s diploma, I embarked on a career in marketing and was lucky to swiftly set up my own advertising company in Belgium. In 1969 I combined my salary and a loan from the bank and started private flying lessons at general aviation airfield Grimbergen EBGB in Belgium.
Private aviation was in its infancy then and flying clubs and pilot schools were struggling to survive. That’s when I came up with the idea to launch a two-colour newsletter called Avianews. The print edition would be funded by the advertising from the flying schools, but I also succeeded in rallying support from local aviation related businesses - the early FBOs, small aircraft maintenance shops, etc. Around the same time, May 1973, I was fortunate to buy my first aircraft.
On June 1st, Gama Aviation took full control of helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) provision for the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
“We went live at 0700hrs this morning as prime contractor,” Mark Gascoigne, MD, Gama Aviation, Europe Air, told Resilient Aviation later that day. “It’s a big day in Gama Aviation’s history.”
In fact, the company’s involvement in Scotland’s air ambulance provision reaches back around two decades, both as subcontractor and primary, latterly with the helicopter operation itself subcontracted, but now the service is entirely in-house.
With a new base at Inverness supplementing existing facilities at Aberdeen and Glasgow, the contract employs in excess of 90 staff, around 20 of them added over the previous 18 months to engineer and fly the aircraft.
By Emma Kelly.
Australian private jet membership scheme Airly is looking at expanding in Australia and South East Asia, having experienced a doubling of membership in the last three months, writes Emma Kelly.
The company operates a private jet charter membership scheme on the Australian eastern seaboard, allowing customers to book flights on private jets using the Airly app, either selecting an existing flight or initiating a new one. Once a flight booking has been made a notification is sent to other members, allowing them to book a seat on the flight. Airly says the cost is equivalent to a fully flexible business class flight on a commercial airline.
Airly works with a select number of charter operators for the services, including Revesco, Flight Options, NAVAIR, ExecuJet, Light Jets and Edwards Aviation. Primary suppliers are Embraer Phenom jets crewed by Flight Options and Revesco.
By Sylvie Peron.
Global AVX is a unique global auction site for commercial and business aviation. Launched in late April, in Dublin, Ireland, the new company offers brokers, leasing companies, liquidators, airlines, individuals and corporations, a dedicated aircraft auction and listing platform.
According to Global AVX: “At a time when the market is more desirous than ever of doing business aviation deals, our platform enables brokers to increase their audience, their transactions and their fees at a zero-cost position.”
Global AVX CEO, Robert Bourke.
The online auction platform is tasked with the goal of making business aviation transactions more efficient, streamlined and transparent than ever before.
“We want to show to the market that we are looking to form long term relationships with the brokers. To act as the perfect compliment and make brokers lives easier to complete business aviation transactions in a more efficient, streamlined and transparent manner than ever before,” says CEO Robert Bourke.
Liz Moscrop talks to René Banglesdorf, CEO of Texas-based Charlie Bravo Aviation about promoting and developing female leadership in aviation.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao recently appointed 30 female leaders to its new Women in Aviation Advisory Board. René was one of them.
Across the pond Katherine Bennett CBE, SVP Airbus, was a driving force behind the UK’s Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter.
Join both women on June 25 at the International Aviation Womens Association GA Leadership Forum, along with many others at the top of their game. Liz will be moderating a panel specifically about the UK Charter and the opportunities it presents to other nations.
Further information here
By Paul Eden.
The twice-weekly South Atlantic Airbridge, linking RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire with RAF Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands, is very much bread-and-butter work for AirTanker, which operates the service using a civilian-crewed and registered Airbus A330.
It’s an aircraft from the so-called non-core fleet, available to supplement the UK’s frontline Voyager multi-role tanker/transport capability.
The A330 lands back at RAF Brize Norton on 5th June | Paul Crouch/© UK MoD Crown Copyright 2020
Each mission is usually flown as two legs, both in excess of eight hours and traditionally via Ascension Island, but employing an alternative tech stop since 2018. Now, AirTanker has developed a direct routing that “. . . demonstrates the capability to offer a non-stop flight if restrictions owing to COVID-19 require us to do so.”
Much of the non-stop operation was business as usual, but the company highlights: “There was lots of preparation and planning, plus the installation of a crew rest facility to ensure the flight could operate legally and safely.”
An Extraordinary Job: RAF Search and Rescue by Paul Eden
Thursday, 25th June sees the launch of a thrilling new book written by our very own Resilient Aviation contributor Paul Eden. The Official Illustrated History of RAF Search and Rescue details fascinating, enthralling and sometimes tragic tales of the legendary bravery of the RAF Search and Rescue team.
Personal interviews and email correspondence with crew members, including HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, are expertly conveyed, highlights Jane Stanbury.
It is a true testament to the courage and professionalism of the crew members that flew perilous missions to save others, and an absorbing history of the service from its formation in 1941 to its disbanding in 2015.
Stories of spectacularly heroic rescues include the March 2013 mission during which winchman Sergeant Rachael Robinson made six separate hazardous descents to reach a grievously injured French trawlerman in atrocious weather off Milford Haven; the December 2001 Rosebank rescue, after which the entire helicopter crew was treated for the symptoms of smoke inhalation inhaled from the exploding boat below: and the Swanland sortie, which involved the Duke of Cambridge who co-piloted the helicopter, to rescue Russian sailors from certain death.
“The RAF and its people are naturally cautious about what they say. It’s often the case that they consider the extraordinary as ‘just part of the job’, so they’ll tend not to mention the things they’ve done,” says Paul, who has worked on writing projects with the RAF for a number of years. His discretion, professionalism and honed writing skills, along with his understanding of, and respect for, RAF procedure underpinned the decision to select him to author the book. This book will resonate with anybody intrigued by the human instinct to selflessly help others in need.
The Official Illustrated History of RAF Search and Rescue - with a forward by HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, by Paul Eden is published by Adlard Coles on 25 June 2020.
By Alison Chambers
For the past six weeks the British Business General Aviation’s (BBGA) newly established Business Aviation Recovery Group has been working on an Alternate Means of Compliance (AMC) designed to help its sector successfully work within the 14-day quarantine restrictions.
The experience that characterises business aviation is through quiet passenger terminals (FBOs) away from the main terminals. It can far more easily adopt the Government’s two metre social distancing requirements - and its beta test model can be carried through onboard its executive aircraft too. BBGA advised its suitability and provided detail or how it would facilitate a Public Health England-approved testing regime for crew and passengers - before embarkation and on arrival.
A letter detailing all this work was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel on 4th June.
'We wrote to her with some confidence - following what we believed to have been good progress in moving our proposals forward to a trial - especially as much more affordable, on site rapid testing machines are now becoming available. Encouraging feedback from the DfT stretched right up to the Aviation Minister. The controversial 14-day Quarantine restrictions went ahead on June 8th.'
We speak to Richard Koe, Managing Director of leading business aviation data research and consulting company, WINGX.
How have you been managing during the lockdown? Personally and professionally?
I can’t pretend it hasn’t been challenging! I run a small, demanding business. My wife works too and we have three small children in a little flat downtown - thank goodness schools are back in Switzerland!
I’ve missed all the positives from being able to brainstorm with my team in the same office, and at the same time we’ve had to adjust to staying home when so much of our business at WINGX has been built around getting out and about, seeing customers, networking at conferences around the world. We greatly miss that.
However, we are a digital business too - which does make working remotely easier. Data has become so important for the industry as companies prepare for the rebound. This is good for us and we find our services front and centre in demand.
What enhancements has WINGX been evolving for clients during this time?
When a big shock like this comes along, everyone wants to know how big the impact has been on the industry, and the quickest way to see that is in aircraft utilisation (far more so than with aircraft deliveries or after-market services, which take longer to materialise).
This necessity really plays to WINGX’s strength.
By Alison Chambers, Editor
Air Charter Service is one of the world’s top charter brokers with offices all around the world and representation in six continents.
Just before the lockdown, the business had opened two new bases - in Chicago and Singapore. There hasn’t been a formal welcome to the worldwide team, it’s been straight into work - from home, highlighted James Leach, Group Marketing Director.
When Resilient Aviation called him, during the past hour his team had confirmed an oil and gas flight to West Africa; a Middle East to India private jet charter; dedicated PPE flights to Spain and the UK; an intra-India flight between two remote destinations, and a repatriation flight from Norway.
“It really has been the most unusual time which has seen us arranging all manner of charters,” he said. ACS did its first ever cargo flight into Heathrow, with inbound arrivals from Africa and Kazakhstan. It is also rare to be able to use big hub airports as fuel stops.
ACS’ Covid-19 response started in January, handling urgent charter requests from its Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong offices. “Our first priority was getting our 550-strong people business set up to work from home,” says James. “The work we handled in China gave us a head-start on the sort of flights we needed to plan for.”
By Jeremy Parkin.
The pandemic has turned the schedule of industry events upside down, and over 150 aviation conferences and exhibitions have now been cancelled or postponed around the world.
Helicopter events are no exception, but the regular schedule of these through the year has been somewhat advantageous for the bigger players. Heli-Expo is the world’s largest helicopter show by some margin and this Q1 event, run by Helicopter Association International, moves around different cities in the US. This year it was in late January and thus unaffected by lockdowns, and the next dates are set for March 2021 in New Orleans.
Looking ahead to the autumn, a new European Rotors event is set for 10-12 November in the German city of Cologne. It is being run with the solid support of the European Helicopter Association and EASA.
With this heavyweight backing, which includes commitment from every key helicopter OEM, we expect this to be a successful launch. The timing was set to coincide with the established annual EASA Rotorcraft Safety Forum, which will run alongside.
Cost of single aircraft treatment could be below $10; product shipment starts in July.
Honeywell and Dimer LLC have announced a partnership to bring an ultraviolet cleaning (UVC) system to airlines that, when properly applied, significantly reduces certain viruses and bacteria on airplane cabin surfaces.
The Honeywell UV Cabin System can treat an aircraft cabin in less than 10 minutes for just a few dollars per flight for midsize to large airline fleets.
Honeywell UV Cabin System.
“This offering is a big win for our airline customers, which are seeking affordable ways to clean their cabins effectively and quickly between flights,” said Mike Madsen, Honeywell Aerospace president and CEO. “Honeywell is working on a range of solutions to help make passengers more comfortable about flying.”
Zeusch Aviation, the Netherlands-based aerial services provider, has reached a major milestone by recording its first aircraft registration on The Netherlands registry.
The Beechcraft B200 Super King Air - new registration PH-ZAZ - was already configured to support medevac and charter missions and now the aircraft is also equipped with a brand new AVCON removable mapping window, located in the aircraft belly, which enables aerial mapping capabilities. The modifications support the company’s focus on delivering high-standard mapping and relay services and serves to enhance the aircraft value.
The new window increases terrestrial visibility to ensure accurate data collection to support detailed map creation. It has also undergone a complete overhaul of both engines in preparation for its expanded offering. The multi-purpose aircraft is available for mapping missions for private individuals, governmental associations and corporations who want to establish the geospatial baseline of an area’s topography, natural landscape, built environment and more.
By Alison Chambers, Editor.
Gama Aviation has taken on the helicopter activity of its long-established Scottish Air Ambulance (SAS) contract with the entry into service on June 1st of two of three brand new Airbus Helicopters H145s, fitted out for EMS work.
One is based at Glasgow, the second at Inverness Airport, supported by a dedicated engineering support team and a new purpose-built facility at Inverness. Gama has heralded the move as a “strategic shift towards the special mission rotary market,” complementing its 30 years of fixed-wing capability.
Mark Gascoigne, MD of Gama Aviation, Europe Air, confirmed that Gama’s workforce in Scotland has now surpassed 100, with 20 more staff, including pilots, added over the past 18 months, to support the helicopter activity.
Gulfstream has sold the last commercially available Gulfstream G550, clearing the way for production of the award-winning business-aviation icon to wind down. The final commercial aircraft will be delivered to a customer in 2021.
“The G550 set the standard for subsequent aircraft and the industry,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “With more than 600 in service, the G550 has earned its place as a leader in business aviation. Its technological innovations and safety enhancements earned the G550 development team the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy in 2003. While manufacturing of the G550 will end, our industry-leading support of the aircraft will continue. With more than 30 company-owned and factory-authorized service centers on five continents as well as the ability to produce and procure parts, we are well-prepared to continue offering G550 owners the highest level of support.”
Announced in 2000, the G550 entered service in 2003 as the launch platform for the transformational Gulfstream PlaneView flight deck. Its tremendous range and high-altitude capabilities put the aircraft at the top of its class as evidenced by its more than 55 speed records.
“Over the past decade, Gulfstream has solidified its reputation for delivering high speed and ultralong range,” Burns said. “And we know that’s what our customers want: the ability to regularly and comfortably fly at Mach 0.90, so that’s where we’ll continue to place our focus. Our newest large-cabin offerings, whether the high-speed Gulfstream G650ER or the next-generation Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G600, continue this heritage by offering exceptional safety, innovation and performance, making them ideal for both commercial and special missions operations.”