Best Large FBO Chain (11+) Million Air
Best US FBO Wilson Air Center CHA
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Best Caribbean FBO
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Best Independent US FBO Texas Jet FTW
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Vol 54 No 7
12 POSITION & HOLD State of the FBO industry by Doug Wilson 14 INTERNATIONAL OPS Choosing an international support provider by Grant McLaren Evaluate what you have in-house and hire an ISP based on your needs.
18 SITUATIONAL AWARENESS Automatic descent mode by Marty Rollinger This autopilot feature flies the aircraft down to a safer altitude, reducing the risk of occupant injury due to depressurization. 26 PRASE SURVEY WINNERS 2020 Pro Pilot readers rank the best in aviation ground services Pro Pilot staff compilation Recognition goes to top FBOs, MROs, line techs and CSRs, plus catering, aviation fuel brand, fuel credit card, and international trip planning providers.
26 4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
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L E A D I NG T H E WAY
Vol 54 No 7
Departments 8 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying helos into W99/PGC (Petersburg WV). Answers on page 10. 22 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers talk about the extra services they have noticed at the different FBOs to keep their passengers safer since Covid-19 came about. 24 SID & STAR The pilots are enjoying the sky with reduced air traffic but have trouble understanding ATC.
This July 2020 edition of Pro Pilot marks the 47th year publishing FBO/ ground service provider evaluations by our subscribers in our PRASE Survey. Readers rate FBOs, MROs, international trip planners, aviation fuel and credit card providers, caterers, CSRs, and line techs based on experiences from the past year. Top performers are recognized on the front cover and inside the book with photos and writeups. Designed by PP Art Dir José Vásquez
Voted Best Caribbean FBO - Pro Pilot 2020 PRASE Survey Main 1-242-377-3355 • firstname.lastname@example.org • Ops Manager Charles Bowe 1-242-810-2540
Jet Nassau has 300,000 sq ft of ramp space and fully service FBO terminal building that includes on-site Bahamas Customs and Immigration. • • • • • •
Operates 24 hours Concierge services Catering Aircraft charter Computerized flight planning room Pilots lounge
• • • • • •
Conference room VIP room Car rental Courtesy transportation 20,000 sq ft of hangar space On-site mechanic
Jet Nassau • One Coral Harbor Road, Nassau, New Providence • The Bahamas
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1. The airport’s IATA identifier is PGC. a True b False 2. Select the true statement(s) about minimum altitudes and terrain/obstacle depiction. a TAA altitudes provide at least 1000 ft of obstacle clearance. b The highest charted terrain or obstacle is 3000 ft above the airport elevation. c ATC may vector an aircraft at an altitude that is lower than the minimum altitudes on the chart. d The elevation of the highest terrain or obstacle that exists in the vicinity of the approach procedure is 3000 ft MSL. e Terrain high points and man-made obstacles are not shown on the chart unless they are at least 600 ft above the airport elevation. 3. Select all that apply. The approach is not authorized ______ a at night. b for circling to land on Rwy 13. c using DME/DME RNP 0.30 equipment. d if the local altimeter setting is not received. 4. When the temperature is at or below -9° C, the approach is not authorized if the aircraft does not have temperature compensating equipment. a True b False 5. Select the true statement regarding the required equipment to fly the approach. a WAAS is required to fly to LPV minimums. b RAIM must be available to fly to LPV minimums. c Baro-VNAV may be used to fly to LPV minimums. d RAIM must be available to fly to LNAV minimums. 6. Which is a correct procedure for flying the initial approach 8. Select the true statement(s) regarding flying the final approach segment when cleared for the approach on a course of 270° segment. to FIBEL? a The PAPI provides a glidepath angle of 5.20°. a Maintain 6700 ft MSL. At FIBEL, intercept the 310° course b The PAPI provides a glidepath angle of 6.50°. inbound and descend to 6000 ft MSL. c In a no-wind condition, an approximate descent rate of b Maintain 6700 ft MSL within 30 nm. Descend to 6000 645 ft/min will maintain the glidepath angle. ft MSL within 10 nm. At FIBEL, perform the course reversal d In a no-wind condition, an approximate descent rate of to intercept the 310° course inbound. 829 ft/min will maintain the glidepath angle. c Maintain 7100 ft MSL within 30 nm. Descend to 6000 ft MSL within 10 nm. At FIBEL, perform the course reversal 9. A visual descent at an angle of 5.20° from the DA ensures to intercept the 310° course inbound. obstacle clearance in the approach path to the runway. d Maintain 6700 ft MSL within 30 nm. Descend to 6000 ft a True b False MSL within 10 nm. At FIBEL, intercept the 310° course inbound and begin a descent to 4500 ft MSL. Select the true statement(s) regarding the missed approach 10. procedure. 7. Which maximum airspeed limitations apply? a A climb gradient of 400 ft/nm is required. a Performing the course reversal: 70 kts. b A teardrop entry to the holding pattern applies. b Flying a course of 310° from FIBEL to CAPIV: 90 kts. c A climb to 1380 ft MSL is required before turning direct to c Flying the final approach segment from CAPIV: 70 kts. MIPKE. d Flying direct to FIBEL from the east within 30 nm: 90 kts. d A maximum speed of 70 kts applies at 5000 ft MSL in the e Flying direct to MIPKE at 5000 ft MSL on the missed holding pattern at ESL VORTAC. approach segment: 70 kts. e The copter’s navigation equipment will anticipate the turn f Climbing to 5000 ft MSL after initiating the missed approach: at ESL and display indications to begin the turn prior to 70 kts. reaching the VORTAC. 8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
Refer to the 12-4 COPTER RNAV (GPS) Rwy 31 at W99/PGC (Petersburg WV) when necessary to answer the following questions:
Not to be used for navigational purposes
Terminal Checklist Answers on page 10 7/20
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Answers to TC 7/20 questions 1. a The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) identifier or FAA location identifier (LID) is listed first, followed by the IATA (International Air Transport Association) identifier. In this case the FAA LID is W99 and the IATA identifier is PGC. 2. a, c According to the AIM 5-4-5(d), TAA altitudes provide at least 1000 ft of obstacle clearance, and more in mountainous areas. The highest charted terrain is indicated by the Highest Arrows as 3000 ft MSL (2037 ft above the airport elevation of 963 ft MSL). Some, but not all, terrain high points and man-made structures are depicted (generally only high points 400 ft or more above the airport elevation). Terrain high points and structure elevations cannot be relied on for obstruction avoidance because higher uncharted terrain or obstructions might be within the same vicinity. Because of differences in the areas for minimum vectoring altitudes (MVAs) and those applied to other minimum altitudes, and the ability to isolate specific obstacles, some MVAs may be lower than the depicted non-radar minimum altitudes. 3.
b, c, d No restrictions are listed for night operations. Circle-to-land minimums are not published, so a circling approach is not authorized. Procedural note 1 indicates that the local altimeter setting must be used, and, if not received, then the procedure is not authorized. Note 2 states that the use of DME/DME RNP-0.30 equipment is not authorized.
b Procedural note 7 in the Briefing Strip states, “Cold temperature altitude correction required at or below -9° C (16° F).” The FAA NOTAM Cold Temperature Restricted Airports indicates that pilots operating aircraft without temperature compensating equipment must apply a manual cold temperature altitude correction to the designated segment(s) of the approach using the AIM 7-2-3, ICAO Cold Temperature Error Table. Jeppesen provides a Cold Temperature Correction Table on a separate airport chart.
5. a, d To fly to LPV minimums, the aircraft must have WAAS-certified GPS equipment, which does not require RAIM. Baro-VNAV equipment may not be used. To use non WAAS GPS equipment to fly to LNAV minimums, the equipment must be approved for IFR approaches according to Technical Standard Order (TSO) C129, and RAIM must be available. According to the AIM 1-1-17, if RAIM is not available prior to beginning an RNAV (GPS) approach, another type of navigation and approach system must be used, another route or destination selected, or the trip must be delayed until RAIM is predicted to be available.
d According to the TAA icon in the lower right section of the plan view, a flight proceeding to FIBEL on a bearing between 220° clockwise to 040° may descend to a minimum altitude of 6700 ft MSL within 30 nm, and 6000 ft MSL within 10 nm. The notation “NoPT” next to ballflag 1 indicates that a course reversal is not authorized upon reaching FIBEL – the aircraft should turn to intercept the final approach course of 310°.
b, c, d, f According to procedural note 4 in the Briefing Strip, a 90-kt limitation applies when flying within the TAA (for example, flying direct to FIBEL within 30 nm) and when flying the intermediate approach segment (during the course reversal or on a course of 310° from FIBEL to CAPIV). Note 5 limits the final and missed approach segments to 70 kts (flying the final approach course from CAPIV and initiating the missed approach procedure). However, according to note 6, airspeed may be increased to 90 kts after reaching 5000 ft MSL during the missed approach.
b, c Procedural note 3 in the Briefing Strip indicates that the VGSI (a PAPI as shown in the lighting box) and the RNAV glidepath are not coincident. According to FAA Order 8260.19E, coincidental glidepath angles/vertical descent angles are within 0.2 degrees with TCH values within 3 ft. In this case, the PAPI has a glidepath angle of 6.50° (indicated in note 3) and the RNAV glidepath angle is 5.20° (shown on the descent/timing conversion table). Final approach speed is limited to 70 kts as per procedural note 5. In a no-wind condition, the aircraft’s ground speed is 70 kts, which requires an approximate descent rate of 645 ft/min as indicated in the descent/timing conversion table.
b The note “34:1 is not clear” in the profile view section indicates that the 34:1 OCS (obstacle clearance surface) is not free of obstructions. The 34:1 slope is a visual descent angle (VDA), which is shown as the dotted line from the DA to the runway threshold that follows the glidepath angle of 5.20° (indicated in the descent/timing conversion table). The absence of this note indicates that a normal visual descent at a 5.20° angle from the DA can be made clear of obstacles.
a, b, c, d According to the AIM 5-4-21, a minimum climb gradient of at least 400 ft/nm is required for copter approaches, unless a higher gradient is published. Procedural note 5 in the Briefing Strip indicates that the missed approach airspeed is limited to 70 kts. However, note 6 indicates that airspeed may be increased to 90 kts upon reaching the missed approach altitude (5000 ft MSL). The missed approach instructions in the Briefing Strip and missed approach icons indicate a climb to 1380 ft MSL prior to turning direct to MIPKE. On a course of 057° to ESL, a teardrop entry applies. KESSEL VORTAC is a flyover waypoint, so navigation indications will not provide guidance for a turn until the aircraft passes over the waypoint.
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POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion
State of the FBO industry By Doug Wilson Founder & President, FBO Partners
s in past years, this State of the FBO Industry provides an opportunity to honor top ground service providers, review trends in business aviation, and offer a prognostication for the coming year. While this year’s PRASE (Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment) winners should enjoy their well-deserved recognition for the fruits of their labors, today’s absurdly brief news cycle tends to render success transitory. It is especially true this year, for a story which began making headlines in January overshadows the news like no other in modern times. A deadly pandemic with far-reaching consequences has gripped all of humanity – Covid-19. Although tempting to recap the FBO newsmakers of 2019, it seems that to do so now – halfway into 2020 – is insufficient a requiem for what later may be referred to as a Golden Age of sorts before Covid-19. While such words may seem overly dramatic, the statistics regarding the Coronavirus stagger the imagination. As of this writing, some 7.5 million infections attributable to Covid-19 have been confirmed worldwide, and nearly 500,000 across the globe have lost their lives to it. By the time you read this, 125,000 Americans will have died in a mere 6 months – more than twice the number of US deaths in the entire Vietnam War. Notwithstanding shelter-in-place orders which saw all of business and general aviation traffic drop off by nearly 74% in mid-April, there were already signs in May that business aviation – and, by extension, FBOs – will recover more quickly than other segments of the economy. Business aviation is uniquely poised to grow as a market segment within the aviation industry at large – with a big caveat, of course. This year, let us focus on how that potential growth may be segmented, what the FBO of the future may need to consider with Covid-19, and, lastly, acknowledge that aforementioned caveat.
Market growth and segmentation Business aviation is an industry segment that tends to be the last to enter a downturn and the first to emerge from one, making it both a lagging and leading indicator. One need only look at September 11 and the global financial crisis (GFC) for evidence of this phenomenon. Notwith12 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
standing an unjustified shutdown of business aviation to DCA (National, Washington DC) in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, business aviation quickly bounced back nationally. The crisis sired a regulatory environment that led to the Private Charter Standard Security Program, the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program, and others. No doubt those seeking alternatives to the airline cabin at the time looked to business aviation instead, perhaps for the first time. GFC was more insidious, and created more lasting economic damage than the attacks of September 11. The reason for this was simple – the US economy itself was propped up on faulty fundamentals. Although an oversimplification, subprime lending led to a domino effect of defaults, followed by the near collapse of the banks. After November 2008, when the heads of the “Big 3” automakers cowered under pointed questions concerning their use of private jets, nothing really changed in the industry. The same people who had been flying privately before still flew privately. Business aviation contracted with the entire US economy, but, more to the point, the market segmentation within business aviation changed. If the GFC led to lasting changes in business aviation, it was the acceleration of a general shift toward more anonymized flying – via Part 91K and 135. So, how might Covid-19 shift the industry a step further? While many upstarts in recent years have focused on a so-called “democratization of private aviation” only to find that market did not yet exist, this time it is different. Every time the airline travel experience approaches the truly inhumane, another tranche of airline passengers exit the 1st-class cabin in search of alternatives. As if airline travel were not painful enough, Covid-19 added the potential for death merely by a fellow passenger breathing on you. While those signing up for an insufferable airline experience often have no financially viable travel alternatives, those who do have the choice will become new consumers of business aviation, and they will express that consumption through Part 135. This too is already an observable phenomenon according to a recent report from Avinode, which, among other things, tracks charter inquiries and bookings industrywide. Entitled Demand Indicators are Heading in the
Photo by José Vásquez
Million Air HPN (White Plains NY) features a 22,000 sq ft FBO terminal, 50,000 sq ft of hangar space, and offers a resort-like feel. Million Air was voted Best Large FBO Chain (11+) in the 2020 Pro Pilot PRASE Survey.
Right Direction, Avinode’s report notes tenant population is nothing less than that, year-over-year interregional charthe foundation upon which a healthy ter inquiries and bookings are up douFBO is built. ble digits over 2019. In particular, flights from the southeastern US to other areas A caveat of the country were up 280% for the first Against these positive signs of life 2 weeks of June. This is consistent with in the business aviation industry, a feedback from Part 135 operators, who caveat must be provided – the health are fielding a significant number of calls of business aviation in the US reflects from first-time customers. the overall health of the US economy. What might this mean for FBOs? An Although some states have begun to all-new demographic will join the cusreopen, fears of a 2nd wave of Corotomer base – passengers who have never navirus are top of mind. Yet, with propexperienced private aviation. They will er personal protective equipment, it is be easy to identify for they will be the not the 2nd viral wave that is cause only passengers still using an FBO lobfor concern, but a lack of consumer by. If Covid-19 has not already done so, spending, which is rocket fuel for the the appearance of this new customer US economy. segment will cement an already painful According to the Commerce Departreality – the death of the traditional FBO An all-too-common sight at FBOs today, an terminal, at least as it is known today. In empty lobby at Banyan FXE (Fort Lauderdale ment, consumer spending accounts the blink of an eye, the candy bowl at Executive, FL) is meticulously sanitized be- for 2/3 of all economic activity in the the front counter, cookies on trays, and fore the next guest’s arrival. Led by industry US. In April, that spending dropped by the popcorn machine are gone, swal- veteran Don Campion, Banyan is consistent- 13.6%, the highest single-month drop ly a top 25 FBO nationwide, and a top 10 since the government began tracking lowed by a pandemic. Independent FBO in Pro Pilot’s PRASE. the index in 1959. If not for stimulus While the existing communal lobby checks and increased unemployment may serve the new democratized demobenefits that are set to expire on July 31, consumer spendgraphic, veterans of private aviation will seek alternatives ing would have sunk even lower by now. Further, a study to mixing it up with them. Frequent users of business aviby the Census Bureau found that 1 in 4 Americans were ation aircraft will avoid the public spaces at the FBO. As unable to pay their mortgage or rent in May, queuing up a business aviation returns, rampside chauffeured transporpotential default rate of 25% when a patchwork of statetation will increase, relegating some FBOs to empty shells. by-state eviction moratoriums end. As this article was beCovid-19 has become a tax of sorts on large gatherings of ing written, the Dow Jones Industrial (DJI) Average was people, rendering communal spaces and shared amenities 27,110. Precisely 365 days prior, it was 25,720, some 5% a liability, not an asset. Instead, FBOs may be wise to put lower than today. I shall leave it to the reader to consider those mahogany conference tables in storage for now, and if the DJI is truly an accurate reflection of the health of the repurpose now-unused conference rooms into reservable, US economy. The big caveat – reality – has not yet set in. fee-based, by-the-hour mini lounges. Returning to PRASE, we would be remiss if we did not mention those not recognized at all. Each year, Pro Pilot Shifting revenue sources asks readers to vote for a favorite FBO Line Technician or Another phenomenon observed during the crisis is that Customer Service Representative as part of PRASE. This FBOs with significant real estate holdings in the form of year, as often before, familiar names appear. Yet, behind hangar sublessees have fared better than those whose revthe names in print are thousands of men and women who enue source is more focused on refueling services. This stand faithfully in a driving rainstorm, holding an umisn’t theory. It’s already been proved during the crisis, with brella above passengers as they exit an aircraft to enter chain FBOs in particular reporting earnings – however the warmth of a limousine. These same men and women meager – due entirely to rent revenue from based tenmay also be found behind the counter in the FBO, siants. While traditional fee-simple commercial real estate multaneously answering a radio and a phone, while ofsuch as office buildings, retail, and restaurant space will fering a warm smile to customers from behind plexiglass contract economically because of the pandemic, hangar and while wearing an uncomfortable but necessary face space, by contrast, will continue to be the most valuable mask. While PRASE cannot possibly recognize each FBO physical asset at an FBO. employee in these pages, make no mistake – front-line And, just as market segmentation occurs on the ramp employees are far more than essential workers – they are and in the lobby, the same segmentation may be found the backbone of our FBO industry. in community hangars at FBOs. While small owner-flown aircraft operators, who are already price-sensitive, may Douglas Wilson started as a lineman at seek temporary rent relief from an FBO, operators of largJGG (Williamsburg VA). An active pilot, er aircraft, such as corporate flight departments and highhe now serves as president of FBO Part net-worth individuals, recognize the value and scarcity of ners, an aviation consultancy providing hangar space. In turn, FBOs are wise not only to ensure business management advisory services those hangar agreements remain up to date, but also to to fixed base operations. refocus service efforts toward their based customers. In time, Covid-19 will demonstrate that a thriving based PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020 13
Choosing an international support provider
Photo courtesy UAS
Evaluate what you have in-house and hire an ISP based on your needs.
UAS support center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company maintains fully staffed support offices around the world with local “boots on the ground.”
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
any international ops are straightforward and self-manageable, but this is not always the case. If you’re just going to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean on a regular basis, these trips can often be planned and managed successfully in-house. Larger corporate flight departments which have robust internal scheduling/dispatching capabilities also prefer to manage certain longer overseas trips using their own personnel and resources. However, if you have a smaller flight department and you’re flying to a new far-flung international destination for time-sensitive meetings, you’ll usually benefit from outsourcing trip planning and day-of-operation support to an effective international support provider (ISP). “If you’re flying somewhere new, especially to smaller airports, there’s a lot that can go sideways and/or unravel for the unprepared,” says ITPS Sr Ops Specialist Curt Kurshildgen. “To ensure the most successful outcome for your trip, you’ll want to take advantage of all resources
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
available to you. Using online flight planning software and making direct arrangements with local handlers could leave you open to unnecessary complications.”
From self service to full service and beyond These days, all manner of ever-improving scheduling software and robo-planning options are available. At the same time, there are more ISP service options, ranging from small boutique-style operations to large providers with their own personnel stationed globally. While low-cost robo-style trip planning options make sense for some operators, others demand high levels of personal service with enhanced support around the world. “I’ve worked on both sides – as a dispatcher with a major US flight department, and as an ISP today,” says UAS Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. “There’s no set answer on what might be the best trip planning partner for you, as this depends on your organization, your operational patterns, and unique requirements of your passengers. Large ISPs have names you can
depend on, but, at times, I’ve found I was better served dealing with smaller, more nimble ISPs. You need to do your own due diligence in terms of what options are best for you.” For a first trip to remote destinations, LeDuc recommends not to do your trip planning in-house or with online software options, particularly with passengers who like to change schedules. “You might think you have everything lined up, but, if things start changing on the day of operation, you could get into trouble,” he says. “If an international trip goes sideways, you might potentially frustrate a multimillion-dollar deal, and you won’t have your job for long.” “One danger, particularly for new general aviation international operators, is in assuming that trips may be easy,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller. “You may think that a simple trip to AUA (Oranjestad, Aruba) will be straightforward, but, if you’re not up to date on nav fee payments, you may be stopped. You may also run into issues with overflight and landing permits, frustrating an otherwise successful operation. Keep in mind that, if you run into difficulties working with a local ground handler, it could be difficult at that point to transfer oversight quickly to an ISP.” Working with a good ISP is an effective way to enhance a flight department’s international capability without significantly expanding its staff. This tends to increase a company’s level of comfort when doing business in different parts of the world. Be mindful, however, that things have the potential to go wrong when operating internationally. “A ground handler may not show up, or customs/immigration may forget to stamp your gendec, and your aircraft could be impounded at the next stop,” points out Avfuel Acct Mgr David Kang. “There was a recent case at OVB (Novosibirsk, Russia) where an aircraft was held and impounded for over 2 months because paperwork had not been stamped correctly at the previous departure point.”
When choosing an ISP, the first step is to determine the level of support you need. Are you running a small 1or 2-aircraft flight department with a single scheduler? Are you a large operation with multiple aircraft and dispatchers on the job 24/7? Should something go wrong overseas, how will you deal with it, and what are your options? In such cases you may benefit from using an ISP who is both an effective problem solver and is familiar with the regions in which you’ll be operating. Once you’ve assessed your needs, look for an ISP that is not only fully accessible 24/7, but has stringent processes in place for selecting and verifying ground handlers and 3rd-party service vendors, and can access credit around the world. In Ethiopia and parts of central Africa, for example, services are normally paid for with cash. It may not be easy to set up credit directly, and you’ll usually be better to piggyback on ISP credit. If you’re looking for a full-service ISP, be sure that they’re easy to reach if things go wrong. Will you be assigned a particular trip support specialist or trip support team? Or will you have to repeat who you are and explain your situation to everybody you’re transferred to? Whether you choose to work with a large ISP, a smaller boutique-style operation, or one that has specific strengths and presence in a particular region, communication is key. The ISP needs to have a robust profile on your operation, and and understand your needs and preferences fully in order to be able to deal effectively with critical short-notice situations. “This relationship cannot be built overnight,” says Jeppesen Business Consultant Nance Pierce. “If you start early and develop a relationship with your selected ISP, they’ll be better positioned to take action fast and assist appropriately when a day-of-operation event calls for it.” Keep in mind that success of an international mission is not just avoiding the hazards of a ground handler malfunction, a denied permit, or an impounded aircraft. “From the passenger perspective, the success of a trip depends on all the little details involved in the flight,” says Pierce.
Photo courtesy ITPS
Choosing the best ISP
Screenshot from the ITPS app. ISPs such as International Trip Planning Services are constantly vetting and updating capabilities of local handling services around the world.
“If the local transport does not show up on time, this can be a real problem. But something as simple as getting whole milk, instead of preferred 1% milk, having mayonnaise on a sandwich, or not uplifting sufficient ice, can cause a trip to be perceived by passengers as a failure.”
Small vs larger ISPs While excellent ISPs exist throughout the spectrum, operators may perceive pros and cons in terms of dealing with a large established ISP versus a newer or start-up operation. “With larger ISPs, you know what you’re going to get, and they tend to offer better pricing and more software options,” notes Kang. “Getting personalized help, however, may be an issue at times. Smaller ISPs may not have all the software options,
so they must win based on service. They’re often start-ups with guys who used to work for the bigger companies, and they can, at times, be more knowledgeable with a higher level of personalized service. One drawback of smaller ISPs may be a lack of physical resources and less flexibility on pricing. If you’re just flying to CSL (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico), the differences really do not matter.” It’s important to do your own due diligence. “Everyone will promise the same thing, but it’s not all the same,” advises LeDuc. “Get recommendations from other flight departments which require the same types of services you require, consider an ISP’s areas of strength, its footprint around the world, and its local connections. Some ISPs do not have the ability to highly tailor a service, so you may need to fit into their struc-
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020 15
ture. For some operators, a smaller boutique-style ISP may be the best and most flexible solution.”
CSL (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) is one of the easier international destinations to operate to. It has full support and handling capabilities. Depending on the nature of your trip, however, even such straightforward destinations can present challenges.
Photo courtesy CSL Intl Airport
When things go wrong overseas If things go sideways on an international trip, the first step is to contact your local handler and ISP. Preferably, you’ll have a dedicated team or team member available to assist you, and they’ll have your trip and profile at their fingertips. From time to time, we hear of self-handled flight departments contacting ISPs at the last minute to take over and solve issues the operator ran into on the day of operation. “In some cases, operators may be leaving the next day and want a new ISP to take over,” adds Pierce. “While we are happy to assist, it’s important to be realistic in terms of each individual service that needs to be changed, particularly in terms of short-notice permit changes.” Fuller points out that a good ISP will work to keep you out of problems before they materialize. “The key is to avoid potential problems in advance by being aware of airport and/or noise curfews, permit and airport slot flexibility, and by having geopolitical awareness,” he says. “Some countries may be best not to overfly due to potential security concerns, and some international airports are best avoided if you think you may need flexibility to change schedule and leave on very short notice.” While it’s great to be able to call someone for a rescue if things go wrong, the best option is not to put yourself in the position of having to be rescued in the first place. Always discuss with your ISP, ahead of your trip, what you’re trying to accomplish. This way they can help steer you clear of potential issues and limitations.
Cost considerations There are, of course, costs to using ISPs as opposed to managing it all on your own. Certain private operators and charter providers are more focused on cost and are willing to take some of the trip planning in house. However, you also need to consider your mission profiles, your passenger needs, and risk tolerance for things not going well. The reason why companies use business aviation is so they can reduce worry about mission success. If a CEO has to wonder whether an international 16 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
trip will go smoothly, this defeats the purpose of having an in-house flight department. Using ISPs for trip planning and support has the benefit of allowing you to run a smaller flight department, as you can rely on 24/7 outside support. On the other hand, having to deal with lot of different outside vendors and accounts payable adds challenges to a corporate structure. While ISPs may add 15% or so to the services for which they provide credit, you’ll get a clear presentation of all trip costs. Pierce adds, “There are so many large and small fees involved with an international trip that, if you’re self managing, it can be difficult to audit and comprehend all the different 3rd-party invoices. And setting up overseas credit on your own can be a challenge.” When traveling the world, prices you pay do not always equate to perceived level of service. “You might pay $10,000 or $12,000 for ground handing in Western Europe and not have a particularly good experience,” says Kurshildgen. “On the other hand, you may pay $2000 for a perceived higher level of handling service in Costa Rica.” When things start to go wrong, you want someone who understands your mission and can ensure the success of your trip. However, although we usually get what we pay for, it may be possible to haggle on ISP pricing at times. “It’s easier to do this with a bigger company on account of their large physical infrastructure and personnel, and particularly if you prove you’ll bring volume,” notes Kang.
“Smaller ISPs may not have the same options in terms of price negotiation.”
Summary It’s relatively easy these days to put together an international trip using online flight planning software, and establishing individual arrangements with ground handlers. Challenges, however, come into play when you need to change schedule and begin moving arrangements around. “Once you start making changes, you have to plan on how to mitigate potential challenges,” says LeDuc. “Things don’t always go to plan and they can start to unravel. The CEO may be late for the departure, catering may not show up, curfews may kick in, there could be parking issues at the next stop, and there may be slot time, permit, and other issues to contend with. It can all start to snowball. You’re dealing with all these different moving pieces that need approvals from different authorities.” Kang concludes, “In choosing trip support options, it comes down to what you have in-house, what you’re willing to do to get the service levels you want, and how much tolerance you have for things to go wrong on the day of operation.” Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 40 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.
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Automatic descent mode This autopilot feature flies the aircraft down to a safer altitude, reducing the risk of occupant injury due to depressurization.
Amber ADM message in 3 locations indicates ADM activation on this Falcon EASy II PFD. The attitude presentation shows a diving half bank left turn with a descent rate of 4000 ft per minute.
By Marty Rollinger ATP. Challenger 600 & 604, Falcon 2000 EASy and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Contributing Writer
aptain Blu Nailbed is flying a regular trip with his familiar copilot U Foria. Out of Orlando, they are taking the Maus family to a Wisconsin cheese festival. On level-off at FL390, a cabin altitude warning presents itself. Following the 1st step of their aircraft emergency procedures, the crew put on their oxygen masks and commence further troubleshooting. Is bleed air 18 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
coming in normally? Is an outflow valve stuck open? The passenger oxygen masks deploy automatically, which confirms that the cabin pressure has reached an abnormal level. At this point in the story, our masked aviators become hypoxic and incapacitated because the gas they are breathing is, in reality, only compressed ambient air, which is incapable of preventing hypoxia at high altitude. Unbeknown to our crew or their highly competent maintenance department, the last time their oxygen bottle was serviced, it was filled with compressed air only, not life-sustaining pure oxygen. Luckily for this crew,
the aircraft was equipped with a “magic” system which activated and automatically flew the aircraft down to denser air, where the crew regained consciousness and reclaimed control of the aircraft. Unbelievable story? Oxygen bottle filling errors are a documented hazard. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident database lists a 1997 fatal accident that resulted from an oxygen bottle mistakenly filled with ambient air. The crew of a Cessna 337 used oxygen mask procedures appropriately, but they still lost consciousness, and a fatal crash ensued. A highly publicized business jet hypoxia accident involving a Learjet 35 claimed the life of pro golfer Payne Stewart plus 3 other passengers and the crew on Oct 25, 1999. After being cleared to climb to FL390, the professional crew failed to respond to radio calls and level off. The plane crashed more than 3 hours later in South Dakota. Max altitude reached was 48,900 ft. Once the engines were starved of fuel, the plane slowed and then rolled out of control to its crash site in little more than 2 minutes. NTSB could not rule out the possibility that the oxygen bottle contained air instead of oxygen. According to NTSB, “The probable cause of this accident was incapacitation of the flightcrew members as a result of their failure to receive supplemental oxygen following a loss of cabin pressurization, for undetermined reasons.” This Learjet 35 needed, but did not have, a magic system to automatically fly the aircraft down to thicker air. On Aug 14, 2005, a Boeing 737 crashed in Greece, killing all 121 passengers and crew. According to the accident report, the crew incorrectly diagnosed a cabin altitude warning as a takeoff configuration warning until succumbing to hypoxia. The plane flew on autopilot (AP) at 34,000 ft until fuel starvation occurred. They, too, needed a magic system to rescue them.
Automatic descent equipment In reality, an automatic system to fly an aircraft down to thicker air is not magic at all. It exists today and is in widespread use on business jets. Called Automatic Emergency Descent Mode (AEDM), Automatic Descent Mode (ADM), or Emergency Descent Mode (EDM) by various manufacturers, the system debuted in 1997 on the Gulfstream V. The “magic” system is an AP feature which safely flies the aircraft from physiologically impairing altitudes to altitudes where both life and consciousness can be maintained, thus mitigating the risk of occupant injury due to depressurization.
Dassault Falcon On Dassault Falcon aircraft, ADM activates when sensed cabin altitude climbs above 15,000 ft while the aircraft is at, or above, 30,000 ft pressure altitude. Normal cabin altitude at cruise flight levels is less than 7000 ft. Falcon ADM assumes the pilots have become unconscious. Once activated, it turns on the autothrottles – if they were not already on – and retards the engines to idle thrust. AP then varies the descent attitude to maintain MMO/VMO until reaching 15,000 ft, where the aircraft will level off and decelerate to 250 kts. This maneuver allows the flightcrew to regain consciousness and assume control of the aircraft. While descending, the aircraft will automatically use half bank to turn left 90 degrees and then hold this new heading. The 90 degree heading change serves to alert air traffic controllers that there is something unusual about the aircraft that needs their attention, as well as serving as a way to get the descending aircraft off a particular airway or oceanic track. If the pilots are receiving sufficient oxygen through their masks to remain conscious, they can disengage ADM with a push of the AP quick-disconnect on the yoke, or deselect AP on the guidance panel. ADM is available on all EASy Falcon models.
Gulfstream Gulfstream’s AEDM system works as described above, except that the aircraft must be flying above 40,000 ft for AEDM to trigger. According to
Embraer Phenom 300E with Prodigy Touch avionics, based on the Garmin G3000 suite. Crew and passengers are protected by EDM as standard equipment.
Heidi Fedak, Gulfstream’s director of corporate communications and media relations, “[Gulfstream] introduced AEDM on the GV in 1997 because its max altitude was 51,000 ft, requiring us to develop a method of addressing rapid depressurization.” All in-production Gulfstream models are equipped. The G500, G600 and G700 all go a step further than earlier AEDM implementations in that the airbrakes will open when AEDM activates.
Textron and Embraer ADM is standard on Textron’s Cessna Citation Sovereign+, Latitude, and Longitude, and it’s an option on the Caravan and Grand Caravan, says Christina Walser, communications specialist at Cessna Citation Business Jets. Textron aircraft that are not outfitted with autothrottles are equipped with EDM, which is similar to ADM but lacks the ability to automatically reduce engine power. Current production aircraft that feature standard EDM include Cessna Citation M2, CJ3+, CJ4, and XLS+. Embraer delivers its Phenom 100EV/300E, Legacy 450/500, and Praetor 500/600 business jets with ADM as standard equipment.
Garmin Garmin’s take on ADM is part of the company’s Autonomí suite of autonomous flight solutions, and is called EDM. Autonomí, pronounced as “autonomy,” is an overarching
term that encompasses layers of safety. EDM is built into Garmin’s integrated flightdecks – those containing both Garmin avionics and Garmin AP – and it’s typically standard in pressurized turboprops and jets. Interestingly, the non-pressurized Cirrus SR20/SR22 light singles also have EDM. In non-pressurized cockpits, the Garmin avionics monitor pilot consciousness. If no avionics interactions are sensed for a set time, the avionics will prompt the pilot. If this prompt goes unacknowledged, EDM will activate and the aircraft will head down to thicker air. According to Bill Stone, Garmin’s senior manager of aviation business development, the company’s work on EDM and its new Emergency Autoland mode predates Payne Stewart’s accident, but that tragedy solidified the need for autonomous flight solutions.
What ADM won’t do As with any airplane system, it is important to understand its limitations as well as the capabilities. Most ADM systems will not engage while the aircraft is being hand flown. With a few exceptions, ADM will not automatically deploy airbrakes, nor change the transponder code to 7700, nor transmit Mayday on either the radio frequency or data link. The system will not change altimeter setting as the aircraft descends through transition level, nor will it keep the aircraft from impacting terrain that happens to poke above the designed level-off altitude. PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020 19
Guidance panel initiates: • Altitude change to 15000 ft • Course change to 90° left turn • Airspeed change to VMO/MMO
• At or above FL400 • Autopilot and autothrottle engaged • Red “cabin pressure low” message displayed • Autothrottles retard to idle
• Don 02 masks • Deploy passenger 02 masks • Contact ATC when possible • Extend speed brakes Once 15,000 ft is established: • Autothrottles advance to command 250 kts
Summary illustration of ADM activation requirements and expected sequence of events in Gulfstream aircraft.
Does ADM work? A few years ago, ADM was installed on my company’s aircraft. The owner asked, “How do we know it works as described?” So we set out to satisfy the owner’s question. We read the literature and trained with ADM in the simulator. In the sim, ADM worked as advertised, of course. How to functionally check the system? How do owners know that they are getting what they paid for? We created a functional test plan that would be conducted off Florida’s gulf coast on an empty leg. The plan was to depressurize the cabin by depressing the DUMP push-button, but Falcon 2000LX only allows dump to cabin altitude of 14,500 ft. To raise the cabin further, to the 15,000-ft trigger threshold, we would need to shut off all incoming pressurization air. We would follow the Falcon maintenance procedure for the inflight check of cabin sealing, which instructs the operator to turn off all incoming air, and then monitor cabin altitude. We planned to turn off the cabin oxygen system to prevent passenger oxygen mask deployment and have the pilots wear oxygen masks to eliminate the risk of hypoxia.
20 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
Airspace coordination was a challenge because there was no way to instantly trigger ADM to function, and because of the rapid descent and 90-degree turn. We worked with Miami Center for a southbound track through Gulf of Mexico Warning Areas that were not in active use by the military. We coordinated a clearance to descend and turn at pilot’s discretion (since there is no clearance for “descend at airplane’s discretion”).
Observations The cabin leak rate on the Falcon was amazingly slow. With all flow into the cabin turned off, the cabin altitude took over 2 minutes to rise from 14,500 ft to the trigger altitude of 15,000 ft. When ADM activated, the pilots saw amber flashing ADM indications in both the vertical and horizontal flight mode annunciator windows as expected. ADM is much more benign than the emergency descent practiced in the simulator for 2 reasons. First, the airbrakes do not deploy automatically, thus the descent rate is similar to an everyday descent. Second, the turn is done gracefully at half bank. ADM worked as expected, giving the owner confidence in the newly-installed software.
Even with ADM protection, the first step in any depressurization event is to put on the oxygen mask.
Closing Prior to ADM installation we would routinely hand fly the aircraft to cruise altitude to maintain hand flying proficiency. With ADM protection only available when AP is engaged, we changed our standard operating procedure to engage AP by 30,000 ft to gain full ADM protection. Gulfstream’s Heidi Fedak reports that Gulfstream is aware of 2 AEDM activations in its 22 years of operational service. Do you have knowledge of any saves? If so, consider reporting the event to your aircraft manufacturer, NASA, or FAA. If your oxygen system was inadvertently filled with pressurized air, how would you know until it was too late? Normal preflight tests only check for flow of gas, not gas chemistry. A simple and inexpensive pulse oximeter device could help. While breathing normal cockpit air at cruise altitude, the pilot can self-administer a pulse oximeter reading, and then breathe 100% oxygen through the oxygen mask for 60–90 seconds before taking a second pulse oximeter reading. Breathing 100% oxygen, the pilot will see a noticeable increase in pulse oximeter reading (likely to 100% blood oxygen saturation). Marty Rollinger has over 35 years of flight experience in 68 different aircraft. A career US Marine Corps pilot, he was a Liethen-Tittle Award graduate of USAF Test Pilot School. He is director of flight ops for a Midwestern operator and a member of the Falcon Operator Advisory Board.
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’ve been to 2 FBOs – F45 (North Palm Beach Co, West Palm Beach FL) and SIG (Isla Grande, San Juan PR). At both locations, I’ve seen a high degree of precaution – in particular, the measures being taken to disinfect our aircraft when we pull up to the terminal. Ramp personnel always have masks on and are ready to go as soon as the engines are shut down. The staff maintain their distance and continue to wear their face masks when coming aboard. Thomas Rivera ATP. King Air 90 & Beech Baron Owner & Pilot ATR Realty West Palm Beach FL
As a business aviation operator, what extra services have you noticed at the FBOs you’ve visited since Covid-19 came about? What are ground service providers doing to keep your aircraft and passengers safer?
xtra precautions are being taken so that passengers, aircraft crew, and cleaning personnel feel well protected. Staff working inside the building wear face masks. There are acrylic plastic screens shielding employees and customers at the registration desk. I’ve noticed increased attention to cleanliness in lavatories, and there is plenty of hand sanitizer available. Terrence Sherman Comm-Multi-Inst. Citation II & Beech Baron President & CEO Sherman Aircraft Sales West Palm Beach FL
ot allowed in the FBOs in the Bahamas or most of South America. I found the same to be true throughout Europe as well. Van Bishop ATP/CFII. Hawker 800XP & Learjet 55/45/35 Senior Mgr Flight Ops & QC REVA Fort Lauderdale FL
ince Covid-19 came about, I have not visited any FBOs. I am only flying my employer’s heliports. However, since the pandemic started, we have our ground crews sanitize and disinfect the cabin between each flight. Also, passengers are issued masks by heliport ground personnel, and they’re required to wear them. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 AW139 Captain PHI Aviation Cantonment FL
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ave only flown a few trips. The changes I have seen are masks and gloves being worn while maintaining a physical distance. There has also been much less traffic, and many cleared direct flights. Bruce Rainwater ATP/CFI. King Air 200 Pilot Houston Sigma Richmond TX
hanges I’ve seen are mainly social distancing between customers and CSRs. Some airports in south Florida were limiting activity inside the FBO if you were coming from a hot-spot city or state. Mark Fairless Comm-Multi-Inst/CFII. Citation CJ1/Citation I & King Air B200 Chief Pilot Connair Consulting Trenton TN
hat I’ve seen at most FBOs is that everyone wears masks, maintains social distancing, and minimizes interaction. Frederick Hartzell ATP. Boeing 737, Gulfstream V & Citation Sovereign Chief Pilot Perpetual Air Charles Town WV
here are physical barriers at the front desk to maintain distancing of at least 6 ft. There is no more handling of paper, and everyone is using both masks and gloves. Tyler Schroeder ATP. Phenom 300 Pilot NetJets Coeur d’Alene ID
easures taken by FBOs vary drastically. Some have set tables in front of the customer service counter to maintain distance. CSRs have implemented a touchless payment process. Also, some FBOs have used this downtime to deepclean their facilities. Overall, I’ve felt safe in every FBO I’ve visited. Kevin Weilein ATP/CFI. Citation V Chief Pilot Silverado Aviation Fort Wayne IN
’ve seen FBOs on lockdown from the general public. Self-service for fuel is encouraged, but they are glad to pump gas for you. Jets on the ramp seem to be about the same distance apart as before, but rental cars are brought on the ramp to avoid further interaction. I think these marked behaviors benefit us in the future by saving time in turnarounds and/or refueling. Lastly, FBOs are constantly disinfecting for pilots visiting the premises for flight ops or weather, or to make use of the lounge. Dan Maglione A&P. Beech 99 & Dornier 228 Operations Mgr Eastern Express Precision Rutland VT
assengers and crew arriving at LBG (le Bourget, Paris, France) receive masks, and sanitizer dispensers are available. Posters in the lounge indicate social distancing requirements. I’ve also seen attendants disinfecting the passenger lounge and all appliances. Gloves
and masks are used by ground crew in charge of helping passengers or handling baggage. Alain Gautron Comm-Multi-Inst. Citation CJ1/ Mustang Pilot Stephenson Harwood Paris, France
When you enter the building, you can see clearly that all potential gathering areas, such as the cafeteria and couches, are closed off. Arnoldo Rojas ATP. Legacy 500/Phenom 300 Pilot Elite Jets Naples FL
round service is available promptly. FBO personnel provide everything from masks and gloves to disinfectants. I’ve also seen that the food is handled with much more care and covered with plastic wrap. Alex Panchana ATP. Gulfstream V CEO Alaxair Wislikofen, Switzerland
s a business aviation operator, I’ve seen FBOs taking extra safety measures, which include everyone using masks, gloves, and even hats with face shields – all while practicing social distancing.
here has been a lot done at FBOs to make sure that health and safety measures are being taken. There is separation of inbound and outbound flow. The same can be seen for passengers. Also, a constant airflow system is maintained. Just as with security screening, I foresee FBOs providing health monitoring as a new service. I imagine that there will be a pending question for major airports – can airport authorities provide an on-site medic through the HSE department? Philippe Platek ATP. Citation III Consultant Plane and Simple HF Air Division Tresserve, France
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South – Silver Lining MIA area Mountain – Perfect Landing APA Midwest – Atiki’s Flight Catering MN area West – Stevie’s CA area Fuel Brand – Phillips 66 Aviation Fuel Credit Card – AVCARD by World Fuel Services Intl Trip Planning – Universal Weather & Aviation MRO – West Star Aviation Pro Pilot Writer – Karsten Shein Methodology
Professional Pilot magazine’s PRASE Survey is an annual tabulation of customer opinions of aviation ground services. Executives in charge of flight departments, aviation managers, chief pilots, pilots, CEOs, and other qualified subscribers to Pro Pilot are polled once a year in order to determine the PRASE Winners List. PRASE is the gold standard of aviation ground service leaders. Pro Pilot uses a multistep process to ensure accurate PRASE Survey results. 1 Ballots were sent to subscribers in 6 waves. • PRASE forms were sent to subscribers in Oct 2019. • PRASE forms were sent with the Nov and Dec 2019 issues of Pro Pilot. • Additional forms were sent to Pro Pilot subscribers separately from the magazine in Jan, Feb, and Mar 2020. • PRASE Survey form was shared on Pro Pilot’s website and social media accounts – propilotmag.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. We monitored closely every form received. Subscribers were instructed to return their completed ballots to Professional Pilot in Alexandria VA. Cutoff date for the 2020 PRASE Survey was April 10, 2020. Late ballots were not included in the tally. Strict checking was done and only 1 ballot per participant was allowed. Voting was restricted to qualified Pro Pilot subscribers. In categories where they compete, members of organizations or individuals were not permitted to submit ballots. Public relations, marketing and advertising personnel are ineligible. Ballots are checked thoroughly to ensure all information listed is current and correct. Careful verification of FBO names is made since some names change because of mergers or acquisitions. The 2020 PRASE Survey received a total of 937 ballots. Of these forms, a total of 799 met the Pro Pilot acceptance criteria and were used in the analysis. A total of 138 ballots were disqualified due to inconsistencies, errors, duplications, or lack of required information. 2 Qualified ballots were transferred into a database and sent to Conklin & de Decker, a JSSI company, for analysis.
EJM Captain Darren Paul is an ATP with 14,000 hrs of flight time logged. He operates a Gulfstream G650ER to perform missions in the US, Caribbean, and Europe. He’s selected and ranked 12 organizations and provided a total of 62 individual evaluations based on his flying experience. His survey form is 1 of 937 received for our 2020 PRASE Survey.
26 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
3 Database information was analyzed and tabulated by Conklin & de Decker at its headquarters in Arlington TX. A precount as a preliminary step was accomplished followed by a final count to determine the rankings and winners. The winners list was finalized on April 17, 2020.
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Final results of the 2020 Professional Pilot PRASE Survey Wilson Air Center CHA voted #1 US FBO Wilson Air Center CHA is the winner of the US FBO category for the first time. (Front row, L–R) Gen Mgr Glenn Rivenbark, Lead CSR Amy Brothers, Concierge Supervisor Pam Coates, and Safety/Training Coordinator Louis Bell. (Back row, L–R) Office Mgr Chris Bell, Ops Mgr Andrew Swain, and Ops Supervisors Troy Pickett and Brian Schussler.
( ) denotes 2019 ranking
US FBOs 2020 rank
did not place in 2019
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings Fuel brand Airport
Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness Value team & efficiency for price
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
WILSON AIR CTR TEXAS JET PENTASTAR SIGNATURE SIGNATURE JET AVIATION GLOBALSELECT MILLION AIR BUSINESS JET CTR MONTEREY JET CTR ATLANTIC AVIATION WILSON AIR CTR MILLION AIR WILSON AIR CTR BANYAN AIR SVC ATLANTIC AVIATION NAPLES AVIATION MERIDIAN JET AVIATION WILSON AIR CTR FONTAINEBLEAU AV
Shell CHA 9.75 9.75 9.65 9.55 9.68 9.42 9.63 (*) Phillips 66 FTW 9.67 9.77 9.33 9.67 9.60 9.62 9.61 (3) Avfuel PTK 9.71 9.76 9.33 9.43 9.62 9.33 9.53 (2) Epic Fuels MSP 9.65 9.70 9.52 9.52 9.52 8.91 9.47 (5) Epic Fuels STP 9.50 9.83 9.17 9.28 9.56 9.06 9.40 (1) World Fuel PBI 9.76 9.76 8.94 9.06 9.53 8.76 9.30 (8) Shell SGR 9.10 9.21 9.70 9.55 9.20 9.00 9.29 (7) World Fuel HOU 9.27 9.29 9.53 9.60 9.00 8.73 9.24 (4) Phillips 66 DAL 9.30 9.07 9.25 9.32 9.19 9.08 9.20 (11) Avfuel MRY 9.53 9.53 8.84 8.95 9.48 8.79 9.19 (14) Avfuel SJC 9.42 9.42 9.37 8.74 9.21 8.89 9.18 (*) Shell CLT 9.76 9.55 8.76 8.70 9.35 8.91 9.17 (12) Avfuel ADS 9.50 9.54 9.08 8.88 9.05 8.77 9.14 (9) Shell MEM 9.59 9.00 9.00 8.94 9.24 9.00 9.13 (10) Avfuel FXE 9.14 9.19 9.38 8.92 9.11 8.89 9.11 (6) Unbranded MDW 9.13 9.60 9.00 8.93 9.07 8.67 9.07 (18) Avfuel APF 9.63 9.33 8.83 8.38 9.17 8.96 9.05 (15) Shell TEB 9.16 9.47 8.92 8.82 8.96 8.85 9.03 (13) World Fuel IAD 9.40 9.33 8.93 8.80 9.07 8.33 8.98 (*) Shell HOU 9.41 9.38 7.44 8.38 9.60 9.31 8.92 (24) Phillips 66 OPF 9.05 8.85 9.70 8.93 8.50 8.45 8.91 (17)
22 23 24 25
ATLANTIC AVIATION DENVER JETCENTER JET AVIATION SIGNATURE
World Fuel Avfuel World Fuel Epic Fuels
TEB APA TEB TEB
9.18 9.10 8.95 8.58
9.38 8.50 8.50 9.14 8.10 8.29 8.98 8.71 8.54 8.82 8.72 8.72
8.82 9.00 8.63 8.38
8.41 9.00 8.34 8.29
8.80 (27) 8.77 (23) 8.69 (29) 8.59 (26)
Ranking Criteria for US FBOs – A minimum of 15 responses from Pro Pilot subscribers with 6 categories giving 90 individual evaluations was the threshold for ranking in the top US FBOs. For 2020, the total number of ranked US FBOs was 25. FBOs acquired after July 1, 2019 retained their former affiliation for this 2020 PRASE Survey.
Most Improved US FBO This award is given to the FBO that made the largest gain in ranking position as compared with the previous year. Wilson Air Ctr CHA didn’t rank in the top 32 in the list of 2019 US FBOs, but moved up into the 1st position in 2020. Hence, Wilson Air Ctr CHA advanced at least 32 positions to win Most Improved US FBO for 2020.
28 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
Wilson Air Ctr CHA 2020 rank
Wilson Air Center Lovell Field Airport, Chattanooga TN up 32 places (33)
Nonstop excellence. Nonstop elegance.
KVNY - Van Nuys, CA
PHNL - Honolulu, HI
KPAE - Everett, WA
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2020 PRASE WINNERS 2 Texas Jet FTW
3 Pentastar PTK Texas Jet FTW places 2nd this year up from 3rd in 2019. In the front row are (L–R) Lead LST Daryl Ashford, Founder, Pres & CEO Reed Pigman, Line Service Mgr Mario Sanchez, and Asst Line Service Mgr Gabe Cross. In the back row are (L–R) Finance Lesa Moke, CSM Holly Hopkins, and CSS Cindy Ramos.
Pentastar PTK ranks 3rd this year. On the far left are VP of FBO Svcs Bob Sarazin and Pres & CEO Greg Schmidt with the proud PTK team.
4 Signature MSP Signature MSP takes the 4th spot, up from 5th in 2019. Photo shows (L–R) Duty Mgr Matthew Hall, Gen Mgr Kyle Schmaltz, and Duty Mgr Peter Landis.
5 Signature STP Signature STP earns 5th spot after placing 1st in 2019. (L–R) CSRs Michaela Brown and Sam Belden, Duty Mgr Sandy Tachovsky, and LTS Mark Eidsen.
7 Global Select SGR Global Select SGR retains its 7th position this year. (L–R) Acting Dir of Aviation Elizabeth Rosenbaum, Airport Svc Rep Supervisor Denise Beckwith, Line Svc Superintendent Ron Stroud, and Line Svc Supervisor Dimas Renteria.
6 Jet Aviation PBI Jet Aviation PBI moves up 2 spots this year, capturing 6th place. Pictured are (L–R) Cust Svc Mgr Cathy Moore, Cust Svc Supervisor Noreen Ohnmacht, CSRs Debbie Morris and Kathy McCollum, and Dir & Gen Mgr Nuno Da Silva.
8 Million Air HOU Million Air HOU takes the 8th spot. (L–R) Line Svc Professional Carlos Renova, CSR Cindy Rosales, Cust Svc Mgr Sabrina Elias, CSR Carolina Lugo, and Line Svc Professional Jefferson Gonzales.
9 Business Jet Ctr DAL
10 Monterey Jet Ctr MRY
Business Jet Center DAL places 9th this year, moving up from 11th in 2019. Photo shows a handful of the most important staff onsite, including CSRs, safety and training coordinator, flight line agents & techs, and brand ambassadors. These folks keep it running 24/7/365!
30 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
Monterey Jet Center MRY ranks #10 this year after placing #14 in 2019. Photo shows proud Operations Mgr Michael Heilpern, and Customer Svc Mgr Kawai Lopez.
We salute our FTW friends on the front lines!
MEDICAL TEAM RN, Respiratory Therapist, Paramedic
FWFD FTW ARFF
RN (Former TJ CSR)
Air Ambulance Pilots
Physician (TJ Friend)
Thank you for keeping us safe!
Fort Worth Meacham
CELEBRATING 42 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 PRASE WINNERS
Best Independent US FBO Texas Jet FTW Texas Jet FTW has won the Best Independent US FBO category 4 out of the last 5 years. Founder, Pres & CEO Reed Pigman, at left, is with the management team that includes (L–R) Customer Svc Mgr Holly Hopkins, Asst Line Svc Mgr Gabe Cross, Asst to the CSM Sarah Bichara, Line Svc Mgr Mario Sanchez, and Finance Lesa Moke. ( ) denotes 2019 ranking
did not place in 2019
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings 2020 FBO Airport rank
Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency
1 TEXAS JET FTW 9.67 9.77 9.33 2 PENTASTAR PTK 9.71 9.76 9.33 3 GLOBALSELECT SGR 9.10 9.21 9.70 4 BUSINESS JET CTR DAL 9.30 9.07 9.25 5 MONTEREY JET CTR MRY 9.53 9.53 8.84 6 BANYAN AIR SVC FXE 9.14 9.19 9.38 7 NAPLES AVIATION APF 9.63 9.33 8.83 8 MERIDIAN TEB 9.16 9.47 8.92 9 FONTAINEBLEAU AV OPF 9.05 8.85 9.70
US FBO Chains In the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey, the definition of a small chain is 3–10 bases. A large FBO chain has 11 or more. Those FBOs with only 2 locations are considered as 2 separate independents. FBO groups classified as networks are not considered FBO chains. A PRASE judges panel composed of top av dept mgrs established these definitions in 2011.
9.67 9.43 9.55 9.32 8.95 8.92 8.38 8.82 8.93
9.60 9.62 9.20 9.19 9.48 9.11 9.17 8.96 8.50
Value for price
9.62 9.33 9.00 9.08 8.79 8.89 8.96 8.85 8.45
9.61 9.53 9.29 9.20 9.19 9.11 9.05 9.03 8.91
(2) (1) (4) (5) (7) (3) (8) (6) (9)
Wilson Air Center has kept the crown for Best Small FBO Chain for 13 years (2007–2009, 2011–2020). From left to right are CSR Alayna Johnson, Line Tech Nate Russell, Line Supervisor AJ Girting, and CSR Jasmin Leabeater.
Best Small FBO Chain (3–10 locations): Wilson Air 2020 FBO Airport rank
Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency
1 WILSON AIR CTR (CHA, CLT, HOU, MEM) 9.67 9.51 8.93 2 CUTTER AVIATION (ABQ, COS, DVT, PHX) 9.32 9.26 8.63 3 JET AVIATION (BED, CPS, DAL, HOU, IAD, PBI , TEB, VNY) 9.19 9.26 8.84 4 ROSS AVIATION (ANC, FAT, HPN, LGB, SDL, TRM) 9.00 8.94 8.88 5 JETCENTERS* (APA, COS, FNL) 9.07 9.20 8.23
9.01 8.00 8.72 8.48 8.37
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
9.49 9.00 8.92 8.82 9.10
9.17 9.30 (1) 9.32 8.92 (2) 8.47 8.90 (3) 8.91 8.84 (4) 9.00 8.83 (5)
9.12 9.00 8.92 8.86 8.70
8.88 9.13 (1) 8.79 9.00 (2) 8.41 8.82 (3) 8.15 8.75 (5) 8.45 8.64 (4)
*JETCENTERS includes Denver jetCenter (APA), Colorado jetCenter (COS) and Ft Collins/Loveland jetCenter (FNL).
Best Large FBO Chain (11+ locations): Million Air Million Air has been #1 in the Large FBO Chain category for 9 consecutive years. (L–R) Chief Information Officer Bruce Lambert, Dir of FBO Support and VP of Intl Ops John Bridi, Chief Operating Officer Chuck Suma, Dir of Marketing Allie Woolsey, Dir of Software Development Mark Stroderd, Chief Brand and Business Development Officer Sandy Nelson, and CEO Roger Woolsey.
1 MILLION AIR 2 SHELTAIR 3 ATLANTIC AVIATION 4 SIGNATURE 5 TAC AIR
9.23 9.43 9.10 9.33 9.35 8.77 9.14 9.29 8.71 9.14 9.19 8.68 8.85 9.02 8.62
9.03 8.77 8.43 8.48 8.19
FBOs acquired after July 1, 2019 are considered as they were, as independent FBOs or part of the other chain, for this survey.
32 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
US: Albany, Alexandria, Austin, Burbank, Dallas, Gulfport/Biloxi, Houston, Indianapolis, Lake Charles, Medford, Moses Lake, Orlando, Richmond, Riverside, Rome, San Antonio, St. Louis, Stennis, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Topeka, Tucson, Victorville, White Plains, Yuma Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary China: Beijing Colombia: Cartagena Puerto Rico: San Juan
2020 PRASE WINNERS
( ) denotes 2019 ranking
did not place in 2019
In addition to US FBOs, Pro Pilot’s PRASE Survey determines the best international FBOs/handlers in the following areas – Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia.
Skyservice YUL wins Best Canadian FBO. Pictured are Cust Svc Supervisor Karin Boucher (L) and Crew Chief Scott Carter.
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
Best Canadian 2020 FBO Airport rank 1
SKYSERVICE MONTREAL 2 SKYSERVICE TORONTO 3 SKYCHARTER TORONTO 4 SIGNATURE TORONTO
Jet Nassau NAS earns 1st place as Best Caribbean FBO in 2020. Photo shows President Alphonse Bowe with proud personnel.
Line CSRs Facility Amenities team
YUL 9.14 9.43 8.79 YYZ 9.33 9.20 8.87 YYZ 8.73 9.36 8.09 YYZ 9.08 9.00 8.25
Promptness & efficiency
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
8.64 8.63 7.73 7.83
9.07 9.07 8.91 8.50
8.79 8.98 8.58 8.95 8.73 8.59 8.42 8.51
8.60 8.17 8.44 (3) 8.11 7.78 8.34 (*)
Best Caribbean 1
JET NASSAU – NASSAU BAHAMAS NAS 9.21 9.11 8.22 (formerly Jet Aviation) 2 ODYSSEY AVIATION – NASSAU BAHAMAS NAS 8.88 9.24 8.12 3 BLUE HERON AVIATION – PLS 8.78 8.89 8.56 PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS & CAICOS 4 ISLAND AIR – GCM 9.11 9.63 7.22 GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS
Uvavemex TLC takes the honors as Best Mexican FBO. Posing in the front row with their team are (L–R) Safety, Training and Svcs Coordinator Diana Valdez (6th), Ops Chief Juan José Ramírez (7th), Sr Mgr OCC Hinna García (9th), Ramp Chief Enrique Padilla (19th), and Ops Dir Jorge Alva (far right). Second in the back row is OCC Supervisor Raúl Hernández.
Best Mexican 1
UVAVEMEX TOLUCA TLC 9.60 9.67 9.60 2 MANNY AVIATION SAN JOSE DEL CABO SJD 9.57 9.14 8.29 3 CABO SAN LUCAS FBO CSL 9.00 9.06 8.50 4 AEROTRON PUERTO VALLARTA PVR 9.00 8.71 7.75
34 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
9.00 8.33 8.67 7.25
9.40 9.00 8.72 7.88
8.80 9.35 9.14 8.91 8.83 8.80 7.86 8.08
+52 722 273 0981 email@example.com
We strive for perfection by continuing to educate ourselves and learning from the challenges, making us the leading experts in the industry. MMTO
Ground Handling, FBO & In-Flight Catering Coordination in MEXICO
2020 PRASE WINNERS Farnborough Airport FAB (formerly TAG Farnborough Arpt) takes 1st place as Best European FBO. From top to bottom are Head of Cust Svcs & Terminal Ops Sophie Lesnoff, CS Deputy Mgr Brian MacShane, CS Agent Molly Smith, CS Agent Alex Reeves, and CS Duty Mgr Lisa Pirie-Barnes.
Aerosupport FBO at El Dorado Intl in Bogota, Colombia wins the 1st place as Best Latin American FBO, as it did in 2018. (L–R) Flight Coordinator Katherine Preciado, Client Rel/Commercial Viviana Rodríguez, Flight Dispatcher Daniel Gómez, Gen Svcs Yajaida Fajardo, Dispatcher Juan Camilo Rojas, and National Dir of Ops César Zapata.
( ) denotes 2019 ranking
did not place in 2019
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
Best Latin American 2020 FBO Airport rank
Line CSRs Facility Amenities team
1 AEROSUPPORT FBO – BOGOTÁ COLOMBIA BOG 2 LIDER AVIAÇÃO – SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL CGH
Promptness & efficiency
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
Best European 1
FARNBOROUGH AIRPORT – UK FAB 9.29 9.14 9.86 9.50 2 SIGNATURE – LE BOURGET, PARIS, FRANCE LBG 8.70 9.40 9.40 9.22 3 SIGNATURE – LUTON, LONDON, UK LTN 9.00 9.00 9.47 9.07
Jet Aviation DXB places 1st as Best Middle East & African FBO as it did in 2017. (L–R) Sr Dir FBO Philippe Gerard, Cust Svc Agent Alena Diligul, Ramp Agent Ramon Jimenez, Cust Svc Agent Remi Rajan, Sr Ramp Agent Christofer Marappa, Sr Cust Svc Agent Rajendra Parmar, Cust Svc Agent Dolores Arante, Cust Svc Agent Abdul Imran, Sr Ramp Agent Abdus Sattar, and Supervisor Ramp Agent Reddy Nallamaddi.
9.50 9.08 9.40 9.10 8.60 9.07 8.73 8.53 8.97
(1) (3) (2)
HKBAC retains the top spot in the Best Asian FBO category for 13 consecutive years. Standing in center are (L–R) Dir of Flt Ops Christopher Lee Barrow (wearing red tie), General Manager Madonna Fung, Director of Adm & Business Development Sheree Cheung, and Head of Customer Service Charise Shek.
Best Middle East and African 1
JET AVIATION – DUBAI, UAE 2 EXECUJET – DUBAI, UAE 3 DC AVIATION – AL MAKTOUM INTL, DUBAI, UAE
DXB 9.00 9.00 9.00 9.00 DXB 9.00 9.50 8.50 8.00 DWC 9.00 8.50 9.00 9.00
9.00 9.00 9.00 (2) 9.00 9.00 8.83 (1) 8.50 7.00 8.50 (*)
Best Asian 1
HONG KONG BUSINESS AV CTR
36 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
8.73 8.67 8.27 7.82
Asia's FBO, proudly serving the region since 1998 Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre 12 South Perimeter Road, Hong Kong International Airport, Lantau, Hong Kong (852) 2949 9000
(852) 2949 9500
2020 PRASE WINNERS
FBO Line Techs and CSRs
( ) denotes 2019 ranking
did not place in 2019
Pro Pilot subscribers also voted for their favorite line techs and CSRs, scoring them within the categories of Can-do Attitude, Knowledge, Attention to Detail, and Promptness & Efficiency.
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
Best Line Tech
2 020 FBO Airport rank
Can-do Knowledge Attention Promptness Overall attitude to detail & efficiency
MSP 10.00 10.00 10.00 9.93 9.98
Best Line Tech is Pat Walter of Signature MSP for 5 years in a row. With 31+ years of experience, he gives excellent service to operators and visitors. His professionalism and commitment have achieved this award for him in the 2020 PRASE Survey.
Pat Walter Signature MSP
Betsy Wines Meridian TEB
1 2 3 4
BETSY WINES ANNETTE TORGERSON VICTOR SEDA HOLLY HOPKINS
Annette Torgerson Signature MSP
MERIDIAN SIGNATURE MERIDIAN TEXAS JET
Victor Seda Meridian TEB
Holly Hopkins Texas Jet FTW
TEB 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 MSP 10.00 9.91 10.00 10.00 9.98 TEB 9.89 9.83 9.89 9.78 9.85 FTW 9.93 9.64 9.93 9.86 9.84
(2) (*) (4) (3)
Best CSR is Betsy Wines of Meridian TEB. She has received the top CSR award from 1996 until 2020, except in 2011, when she was voted 4th, in 2015 she was 4th, in 2016 was 3rd, and 2nd in 2019. Her dedication, knowledge and efficiency have allowed her to provide excellency in services to pilots, passengers, owners, and executives.
Other Services – Catering, Fuel Brand, Aviation Fuel Credit Card, Intl Trip Planning, and MROs Pro Pilot subscribers assessed 5 additional services – Catering for Aviation, Fuel Brand, Aviation Fuel Credit Card, International Trip Planning, and MRO Service Centers. These were scored based on Quality of Service, Value for Price, Dependability, and Customer Satisfaction.
Best Catering for Aviation by region Each region has a winner with no overall national one.
(Northeast, South, Mountain, Midwest, West and Middle Atlantic)
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
2 020 rank
Quality of Value Dependability Customer Overall 2019 service for price satisfaction rank
Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) 1 RUDY’S
9.62 8.45 9.49
9.34 9.23 (1)
9.50 7.88 9.63
APA 9.33 9.00 9.33
MN area (MSP, STP) 9.71 8.71 9.86
10.00 9.57 9.71
NJ area (EWR, MMU, TEB)
South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX) 1 SILVER LINING
MIA area (BCT, FLL, FXE, MIA, OPF)
Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY) 1 PERFECT LANDING
Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI) 1 ATIKI’S FLIGHT CATERING
West (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) 1 STEVIE’S
CA area (BUR, VNY)
Note: Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, VA, WV) – Not enough votes received to determine a winner for this region.
38 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
2020 PRASE WINNERS ( ) denotes 2019 ranking
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
did not place in 2019
Quality of service
Value Dependability Customer Overall for price satisfaction
Best Fuel Brand 1 PHILLIPS 66 2 AVFUEL 3 WORLD FUEL SERVICES 4 SHELL
9.48 9.21 9.33 9.07 9.35 9.20 9.27 8.64
9.44 9.51 9.30 9.27
9.48 9.40 (1) 9.36 9.32 (2) 9.30 9.29 (4) 9.18 9.09 (3)
9.51 9.33 9.19 9.10 9.30 8.83
9.48 9.10 9.30
9.44 9.44 9.19 9.15 9.08 9.13
(4) (5) (3)
9.21 8.66 9.24 9.14 9.06 9.00 8.60 9.00 8.90 8.88
Best Aviation Fuel Credit Card 1 AVCARD by WORLD FUEL SERVICES 2 AVFUEL 3 UVAIR
Best International Trip Planning 1 UNIVERSAL WEATHER & AVIATION 2 COLLINS AEROSPACE Includes ARINC, Ascend, and Air Routing
Most Preferred MROs
(Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) Category established in 2014
West Star was voted 1st for 7 consecutive years, keeping the crown in the Most Preferred MRO category. The West Star team thanks you for your continued support.
1 WEST STAR AVIATION 2 DUNCAN AVIATION 3 GULFSTREAM 4 TEXTRON AVIATION
9.67 9.38 9.58 9.21 9.58 8.95 8.90 8.33
Favorite Pro Pilot Writers Pro Pilot magazine writers are ranked annually by subscribers.
Karsten Shein Weather Brief
Grant McLaren Intl Ops
40 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / July 2020
Brent Bundy Operator Profile
9.63 9.71 9.53 8.95
9.54 9.56 (1) 9.63 9.53 (2) 9.47 9.38 (4) 8.89 8.77 (3)
Ranked by total number of votes
Mike Potts Shannon Forrest Senior Contributing Tech Articles Writer Specialist
2020 rank 1 KARSTEN SHEIN 2 GRANT MCLAREN 3 BRENT BUNDY 4 MIKE POTTS 5 SHANNON FORREST
2019 rank (1) (2) (4)
In 2014 - We Were PROUD In 2015 - We Were GRATEFUL In 2016 - We Were HUMBLED In 2017 - We Were THANKFUL In 2018 - We Were HONORED In 2019 - We Were DRIVEN
In 2020 - We Are INSPIRED
Professional Pilot Magazine July 2020