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Vol 54 No 5
Features 17 EXTRAORDINARY ACTIONS How’s Covid-19 affecting air transport? by Shannon Forrest One industry, one goal: To mitigate the effects of the pandemic. 22 BIZAV OPS FBOs’ response to Coronavirus by Pro Pilot staff Here’s what ground service providers are doing to support aviation ops. 26 PRASE SURVEY RESULTS Pro Pilot readers evaluate FBOs, line techs, CSRs, fuel, catering, and international service providers for business aviation. by Staff compilation 38 OPERATING IN CYBERSPACE Threats to connected aviation by Don Van Dyke Knowledge, planning, vigilance, and training are the best defenses against hazards across networks and systems.
42 WEATHER BRIEF Hurricanes by Karsten Shein These tropical storm systems can damage infrastructure and disrupt aviation. 46 INTERNATIONAL OPS Bizav activity in Europe by Grant McLaren Equipment mandates and other considerations when flying to and within the European Union.
46 4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
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Vol 54 No 5
Departments 8 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying into SAT (San Antonio TX). Answers on page 10. 12 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers explain why their operations would benefit from having a turboprop, and also talk about the advantages of inflight connectivity. 20 SID & STAR Oscar Lugnut learns about the effects of Covid-19 in the aviation world.
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6 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
FBOs all over the world are taking extraordinary actions to keep business aviation operations active. This special edition of Pro Pilot is dedicated to the ground service providers giving their best to support Part 91, 91K, 135, air ambulance, and humanitarian flights during these trying times. Cover designed by Pro Pilot Art Director José Vásquez.
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
7. Which procedure limitations apply to the specified waypoints? a Maximum 220 KIAS – WIMIN. b Radar required – WENDL, WIMIN. c Airway arrival restrictions – TROOP, BENEY. d RNP 0.60 – WENDL, BENEY, BRAUN, WIMIN. e Maximum 180 KIAS – ODXUR, UMIYU, WERVO, WIMIN.
6. Select all that apply. To fly the leg from ODXUR to UMIYU in a Category B aircraft, _____ a a maximum airspeed of 150 KIAS applies. b a maximum airspeed of 180 KIAS applies. c the navigation equipment must be able to command a bank angle of 30 degrees. d the navigation equipment’s TSE must be within ±0.30 nm for at least 95% of the time.
5. Which altitude limitations apply to the specified waypoint? a ISEDE – minimum altitude: 6000 ft MSL. b ITEPE – mandatory altitude: 6000 ft MSL. c ISEDE – maximum altitude: 9000 ft MSL. d TROOP – minimum altitude: 6000 ft MSL. e HUNUV – maximum altitude: 8000 ft MSL.
3. If the navigation system does not set the RNP value for each leg of the procedure, the flightcrew must ensure that 0.30 is selected before initiating the approach. a True b False 4. To fly this procedure, the flightcrew must ______ a verify that the San Antonio altimeter setting is set prior to the IAF. b have a readily accessible list of equipment required for conducting RNAV (RNP) AR approaches. c have received training on contingency procedures in the event of RNP system component failures. d All of the above apply.
2. Select the true statement(s) that apply to modifying the flight plan when performing the approach. a A vector may be accepted to ITEPE to begin the approach. b The procedure must be retrievable by name from the aircraft navigation database. c The lateral path may be altered to proceed direct to JISDA to begin the approach if directed by ATC. d To comply with an ATC instruction, the procedure in the navigation database may be modified to change the maximum altitude at TROOP.
8. The landing minimums for this approach comply with a set of criteria that are similar to EU-OPS requirements. a True b False 9. Select the true statement(s) regarding the final approach segment. a An inoperative MALSR increases the minimum visibility by ½ sm. b Inoperative runway end identifier lights increase the minimum visibility to 1 ½ sm. c The threshold crossing heights of the PAPI and RNAV glidepaths differ by more than 3 ft. d When flying the final approach segment, the airplane’s navigation equipment must display the RNP value of 0.30. 10. Select the true statement(s) regarding the missed approach. a The missed approach procedure requires an RNP value of 0.30. b The missed approach procedure requires an RNP value of 1.0. c If vertical deviation exceeds 50 ft, a missed approach must be performed. d If vertical deviation exceeds 75 ft, a missed approach must be performed. e A missed approach must be performed if the navigation system is unable to comply with 0.30 RNP.
Not to be used for navigational purposes
Refer to the 12-23 RNAV (RNP) Z Rwy 31L for KSAT/SAT (San Antonio TX) when necessary to answer the following questions: 1. Select the true statement(s) regarding the requirements to fly this approach. a The aircraft is required to have TAWS. b An autopilot or flight director driven by the RNAV system is required. c The aircraft’s MEL must include the RNP AR equipment requirements. d Authorization must be specified through OpSpecs, MSpecs, or an LOA. e Any aircraft that meets the equipment requirements speci fied in AC 90-101A is authorized to fly this approach.
Terminal Checklist Answers on page 10 5/20
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Answers to TC 5/20 questions 1.
a, b, c, d According to AC 90-101A, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with AR, a Class A terrain and warning system (TAWS) is required for all RNP AR procedures. RNP procedures with RNP values less than 0.30 or with radius-to-fix (RF) legs require the use of an autopilot or FD driven by the RNAV system. In addition to meeting the equipment requirements, operators must obtain approval through OpSpecs, MSpecs, or letters of authorization (LOAs).
b, c, d AC 91-101A states that the RNP AR procedure must be retrievable by the procedure name from the aircraft navigation database (NDB). Pilots must not modify the lateral path, with the exception of going direct to fix (DF), as long as that fix is prior to the FAF and does not immediately precede an RF leg – a pilot must not accept a vector to go direct to ITEPE, which precedes an RF leg, but could proceed direct to JISDA if directed by ATC. The only other authorized modification is to the altitude and/or airspeed waypoint constraints on the initial, intermediate, or missed approach segments. For example, to comply with an ATC instruction, the maximum altitude at TROOP may be modified.
a According to AC 91-101A, if the navigation system does not extract and set the RNP value from the onboard navigation database (NDB) for each leg of the procedure, the flightcrew must ensure that the smallest RNP value required to complete the approach or the missed approach is selected before initiating the approach (in this case, 0.30 RNP on the final approach).
4. b, c According to AC 90-101A, due to the reduced obstruction clearance inherent in RNP AR instrument procedures, the flightcrew must verify that the current local altimeter is set by the FAF. The flightcrew must have a readily accessible list of equipment required for conducting RNP AR approaches. The operator’s contingency procedures must address failure of RNP system components, including those affecting lateral and vertical path tracking performance and the loss of the external navigation signal. 5. a, b, c, e Notes on the plan view indicate that maximum altitudes of 9000 ft MSL, 6000 ft MSL, and 8000 ft MSL apply to ISEDE, TROOP, and HUNUV, respectively. A mandatory altitude of 6000 ft MSL applies to ITEPE. The minimum altitude shown on the route leading to and from ISEDE is 6000 ft MSL. 6. a Both AC 90-101A and AC 20-138D, Airworthiness Approval of Positioning and Navigation Systems, provide navigation equipment requirements to fly RNP
approaches. Maximum airspeeds for flying an initial or intermediate RF leg are 150 KIAS for Category A and B aircraft, and 250 KIAS for Category C, D and E aircraft. The equipment must be able to command a bank angle up to 25° to fly an RF leg above 400 ft AGL. The total system error (TSE) must be within the RNP value requirements (in this case ±0.60 nm) for at least 95% of the total flight time.
a, c, d WIMIN IF is the only waypoint with a maximum airspeed limitation of 220 KIAS and a radar requirement. Ballflag notes 2 and 7 list restrictions for arrivals on V68 for TROOP and BENEY, respectively. Ballflag note 8 indicates that RNP 0.60 is required for WENDL, BENEY, and BRAUN. A note next to WIMIN also lists this requirement. Ballflag note 5 indicates a maximum airspeed requirement of 180 KIAS for UMIYU and WERVO. A note next to ODXUR also indicates the 180 KIAS limitation.
a TERPS printed in white letters in the black box in the upper left corner of the landing minimums section box indicates that the landing minimums meet TERPS Change 20 standards or later. TERPS Change 20 is a set of criteria for determining minimums that was designed by FAA to harmonize more closely with EU-OPS.
9. a, c Runway end identifier lights (REIL) are not part of the approach light system (ALS), and so do not affect the minimum visibility. An inoperative MALSR increases the minimum visibility from RVR 50 or 1 sm to 1 ½ sm. Procedural note 4 in the Briefing Strip indicates that the VGSI and the glidepath are not coincident. Although they both have a 3.0° angle, the PAPI path crosses the threshold at 82 ft and the TCH for the RNAV glidepath indicated in the profile view is 60 ft. According to FAA Order 8260.19E, coincidental glidepath angles/ vertical descent angles are within 0.2° with TCH values within 3 ft. According to AC 20-138D, navigation displays do not have to include an actual navigation performance (ANP) or RNP accuracy value – they only need to provide an alert if the RNP value for the specific operation cannot be met. 10.
b, d, e According to AC 90-101A, RNP AR missed approaches are typically designed to require RNP 1.0 unless the chart includes the note “missed approach requires RNP less than 1.0.” If the pilot does not have the required visual references, a missed approach must be performed if the lateral deviation exceeds 1 x RNP or the vertical deviation exceeds 75 ft, as well as at any time that the navigation system does not have the performance to continue the approach (ie, unable to comply with the current RNP value).
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e have a King Air 200 in our operation. On domestic flights and short runway operations, it is a great asset to our fleet of several aircraft. When our jets are unavailable, it can also be used on longer flights at a lower cost. Hans Flesvig ATP. Falcon 900 & King Air 200 Captain Sundt Air Management Feiring, Norway
L Do you have a turboprop in your fleet? What advantages does it have over jets of comparable size?
ur organization uses 4 Beech King Airs for mapping survey – a pair of 200T models powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-41 engines, and 2 B200Ts with PT6A-42s. In addition to these reliable engines, they are fitted with 2 cameras and tip tanks. These TPs are capable of flying from 1000 ft AGL at 140 kts up to FL310. Advantages are speed range of 140–260 kts and low maintenance costs. They also have endurance for long survey flights and overseas ferry flights, and are great for single-pilot operations. Jean Luc Pilotto ATP. Airbus A320, Falcon 200 King Air 200T/B200T Captain IGN CNRS SAFIRE ENAC Béthisy Saint-Martin, France
aving operated King Airs and reciprocals in the past, I can say turboprop aircraft are more flexible and versatile than jets because they’re able to operate out of shorter and limited airport runways. The purchase price of a turboprop is less, as is operational cost. We also favor multi-engine over single due to added safety over water or rugged terrain at night. Victor Schneider ATP. King Air 100 & Cessna 414 Chief Pilot AquaStar Pool Products Oceanside CA
12 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
ower acquisition, maintenance, and operating costs are some of the advantages of having a turboprop. You also can use shorter runways, and turboprops have better control on ice- or snow-contaminated runways. They generally have more range, and you can fly at lower altitudes, if required, to avoid weather or for short flights. They often have more interior space and larger windows. However, we must also consider lower initial and recurrent training costs. In summary, there is greater operational flexibility with lower costs and little sacrifice in estimated time enroute for most flights. Jeff Brausch Pvt-Inst. Piper Cheyenne IIXL Owner & President J Jeffrey Brausch & Co Medina OH
fly a Swearingen Merlin III, and it has great fuel economy while flying up to 10 occupants. Inspections and maintenance are much cheaper than a jet. Most of our flights are shorter than 600 nm, so, with a TAS of 285–300 kts, our TP takes only about 30 minutes longer to get there than a jet. Greg Kimbrough ATP/CFII. Swearingen SA227 Captain Double R Bossier City LA
or a while, we had a single-pilot-operated King Air 200. It was great because it didn’t require annual recurrent training. Zipping around in it was nice. Samir Kanuga ATP/CFI. Citation V Chief Pilot Royal Paper Paradise Valley AZ
should start by saying that we have had both jets and turboprops in our company, and each is preferred for different missions. That said, our mainstay is our MU-2 Marquise. It performs its missions flawlessly. Statistically, it is now the safest turboprop currently flying. In comparison to our recent jet, it has better carrying capabilities, flexibility in terms of runway type, and lower operating costs. Turboprops are better suited for 85% of our current mission structure. Also, we save money on maintenance costs over the jet every year. Jets are wonderful depending on the mission. However, our turboprop is the most versatile backbone of our transport needs. Patrick Cannon ATP/CFI. Challenger 350 Beechjet 400, & Mitsubishi MU2 President Mission Air Services Lewisville TX
ur Cessna 441 Conquest II will perform 300 kts at FL330 in low temperatures, burning 57 gallons per hour. Depending on stage length, it is more efficient than piston twins, such as Cessna 421. Our Conquest is nearly as fast as the Citation, but far less thirsty. Fred Volz ATP. Citation V & Conquest II & I Contract Pilot Lewisville TX
t the moment, we don’t have turboprops in our fleet. However, from experience, they are more efficient for shorter trips. Turboprops are ideal to operate when there are shorter runways. Allan Englehardt ATP. Falcon 50 Captain MMB Aircraft Leasing Harriman NY
y employer has King Airs in its air medical division. The cost of operation is low, and they are very reliable. Their ability to land on short runways is one major advantage they have over jets of comparable size. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 Captain PHI Cantonment FL
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
o turboprops in our current fleet. However, from experience, I know that, if your average flight is less than 500 miles, there isn’t a significant difference in flight time. Therefore, a turboprop would be the better choice. James Moe ATP/A&P. Falcon 50 Chief Pilot SCF Partners Friendswood TX
perating several turboprops in various parts of the world, in places where very few turboprops and no jets can do the job, our only viable option is a turboprop. John Kendrick ATP/Helo/CFI. Fairchild Swearingen SA227 & Airbus UH-72A Lakota Captain & Safety Officer Berry Aviation Bakersfield CA
aving a beautiful 1981 Swearingen Merlin IIIC equipped with composite 5-bladed MT propellers makes it smooth and quiet inside. It burns 550 lb/hr while giving us 287 kts. It’s perfect for short hops or for supplementing our Citation Excel when we have more than 8 or 9 passengers. It also burns less fuel than our jet. On our 800–1000-mile trips, we give ourselves an hour’s head start and land together with the Excel. Jon Hillier ATP. Citation Sovereign/Excel & Fairchild Swearingen SA227 Flight Dept Mgr & DOM Devcon Construction Portola Valley CA
njoying lower operating costs is something that comes with owning a Pilatus PC-12NG. Another great advantage is that we can land closer to our destination than with jets of comparable size. Juan Zambelli Comm-Multi-Inst. Pilatus PC-12NG Flight Dept Mgr Quilque Béccar, Buenos Aires, Argentina
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
Who’s your inflight connectivity and entertainment provider? What do your passengers say about it?
ogo is who we use for airborne Wi-Fi connectivity. Our plan is pay-as-you-go, so we don’t have a bill unless the router is turned on, but our passengers never use the service because they think it is too expensive. David Mauer ATP/CFI. Falcon 2000EX EASy II International Captain Neurosurgery & Endovascular Association West Bend WI
nboard, Gogo Wi-Fi works well with 3 or 4 devices. However, we experience some difficulty when iPads are also in use in the cockpit. We could probably use more bandwidth. Robert Oehl ATP/CFII. Learjet 60 President Express Air Jacksonville Beach FL
or our domestic operations, Gogo Direct has worked just fine for us. Overland connectivity has been perfect. Steve Cirino ATP. Pilatus PC-24/PC-12 & Eclipse 500 Supervisory Pilot U-Haul International Phoenix AZ
irius XM is our entertainment provider, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Pilots and passengers alike seem to enjoy this service. Charles Hackett Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air B200 Chief Pilot Blue Sevens Denton TX
o complaints whatsoever with our Gogo Avance L5. With this platform, we have unlimited data, but no visual or voice over IP. We’re fully satisfied with this service. Andrew Bledsoe ATP. Challenger 300 Chief Pilot Noble Plane Indianapolis IN
e use Gogo Biz for internet connection, and Satcom for phone service. Lately, the Internet has slowed down, but we’re not sure why that is. However, our representative has given us an update which hopefully will improve connectivity. Other than speed, we haven’t had any other comments from the passengers. Paul McVay ATP/CFII. Hawker 800XP Lead Captain Clay Lacy Aviation Watertown CT
t’s nice to make a call from anywhere. Satcom Direct helps us provide inflight phone service and we are quite pleased with them. Gary Nickell ATP/CFII. Sabreliner 1 Chief Pilot Fitness Management Grand Rapids MI
se of inflight connectivity is essential. That is why our Citation CJ3+ is equipped with Gogo’s ATG 2000 system. Passengers and crew can stay connected for most desired tasks such as email and some internet surfing. The on/off switch, combined with hourly billing, makes this service very affordable. Also, the Gogo Text & Talk app works quite well, but so do Wi-Fi-based calls and texts to certain phones. We’re well satisfied with this service. Marc Dulude ATP. Citation CJ3+ Chief Pilot Mild Air Bluffton SC
o ensure reliable connectivity for movies, before the flight and while on the ground, we use iTunes to download movies. We also have Gogo Avance, but have received consistent complaints over connectivity in congested areas such as the northeast region of the US. The owner has questioned whether the Gogo upgrade was even worth it. Joanna Meek ATP. Legacy 600 Dir of Aviation W3 Frisco TX
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How’s Covid-19 affecting air transport? One industry, one goal: To mitigate the effects of the pandemic in aviation. By Shannon Forrest President, Turbine Mentor ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605, Gulfstream IV, MU2B
Invisible enemies If this story sounds fake, that’s because it is. It’s the plot of the novel and made-for-TV movie, Pandora’s Clock (also called Doomsday Virus) from the mind of author John J Nance. The story resonates with pilots because Nance is one himself. Nance’s official biography identifies him as being a lawyer, former USAF pilot (veteran of Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm), alumnus of Braniff Airlines, and retired Alaska
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
n 1996, a flight from FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) to JFK (John F Kennedy, New York NY) was interrupted when a passenger collapsed under medical duress. At first, the malady appeared to be a heart attack. Captain James Holland immediately declared a medical emergency and informed air traffic control that he wanted to land at LHR (Heathrow, London, UK). His request was denied, and authorities ordered him to fly back to FRA. Such a mandate was perplexing. German medical professionals determined that the passenger at the center of the medical emergency was likely infected with a deadly strain of influenza. The highly contagious nature of the new virus meant that a quarantine would be necessary on arrival. Fearing a worst-case scenario in Germany, Holland tried to end the flight earlier by landing at RAF Mildenhall in England. Once again, he was turned away. Vehicles positioned on the runway prevented him from touching down. Eventually, the captain landed the Boeing 747 in Iceland, where it was met by armed troops in full chemical warfare gear. Sadly, one passenger was shot during a frantic and panic-stricken attempt to escape the quarantine.
Officers wearing protective suits perform airport health checks at BLQ (Bologna, Italy).
Airlines 737 captain. He’s a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction alike, and his 1986 novel Blind Trust was one of the first to advocate aviators adopt a newly emerging operating technique called crew resource management (CRM). In Blind Trust, first-generation CRM was directed at an invisible enemy – a pilot’s own psyche. Today, the entire aviation industry faces another daunting invisible adversary in the form of the Covid-19 virus. Nance’s fictitious account of a killer virus that travels the world using an airplane as a vector and its effect on human behavior is telling. Social scientists tend to agree that perception plays a large role in how people react to any stimulus. There’s an adage in legal circles that says there are 3 sides to every story: the plaintiff’s, the defendant’s, and the truth. The debate over Covid-19 is no different. One mainstream news source describes it as the biggest killer since the Black Death, while another claims it’s no worse than seasonal influenza. Covid-19’s etiology and actual fatality rate remains to be
seen, but its enormous impact on worldwide aviation operations, and how air travelers view the outbreak is unquestionable.
Private aviation China was presumed to be the origin of the outbreak. As such, it was the first to impose quarantines and civil restrictions on its populace. In March 2020, some businesses in the US began enacting policies to restrict commercial air travel to “essential only” missions. Airline ticket sales started to decline. At first, it was business as usual for corporate aviation (except for travel to China) because private flight departments have an advantage over the airlines when it comes to preventing the spread of a contagion – business aircraft carry fewer passengers spaced further apart, same crew members often are paired together, and there are fewer flights over time. As reports of Covid-19 increased and geographical regions emerged as hotspots, private air travel – especial-
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 17
FAA was considering a temporary exemption of the rule.
Pilot medical certificates
TSA data shows that only 119,854 passengers passed through US checkpoints on April 27, 2020. On the same day last year, TSA screened 2.4 million passengers. The reduced numbers of travelers are reflective of widespread flight cancellations attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ly charter – saw an uptick. The reason was obvious – those with the will and means to flee from areas considered high risk did so. By the end of March, the prevailing philosophy among US businesses was to shy away from airline travel. Conferences were cancelled. Entire countries closed their borders to inbound flights. Passengers became nervous of forced quarantines and opted to stay home instead of flying commercially. The combined loss of the business and leisure traveler caused precipitous declines in airline revenue. To cut costs, airlines began to drastically slash schedules. The website Flightradar24, which provides real-time tracking of flights in radar contact, published a graphic image that showed the difference in air traffic in US domestic airspace at 21:00 UTC on March 1 versus March 29, 2020. The end of the month showed 4000 fewer aircraft in the air for a given date and time than 4 weeks prior. The data also showed a decline in corporate flying. As “social distancing” and “work from home” became widespread, the demand for air travel came to an end. It’s important to note that, unlike after 9/11, flying commercial or private has not been banned or curtailed in US airspace. Routes formerly considered high-density or congested are seeing much less traffic, so pilots who do fly can obtain “direct to” clearances and short-cuts with ease. ATC instructions to “turn left, vector for spacing” or “what’s the slowest Mach you can do?” have 18 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
largely disappeared. Short taxi times seem to be the norm in the major metropolitan areas.
ATC Zero One operational challenge that has appeared, albeit infrequently, is “ATC Zero” or the loss of all ATC-related services in a terminal area. Anecdotal information about air traffic controllers testing positive for Covid-19 is blamed. A tower-controlled airport in a state of ATC Zero is not the same thing as a closed airport. Pilots not familiar with non-towered operations may want to review the procedures using the Aeronautical Information manual (AIM). If an ATC Zero state is declared during the approach to landing, a knowledge of the situation may prevent an unnecessary diversion. Reduced air traffic operations and increased sick calls have forced some ATC facilities to temporarily suspend or eliminate services. For example, in mid-April, the ATIS at BTV (Burlington VT) indicated that, “due to reduced staffing levels, pattern work may be denied.” The ability to conduct pattern work when piloting a corporate aircraft is generally not a concern, but some flight departments are reporting that reduced flying could affect FAA requirement for pilots to conduct 3 takeoffs and landings every 90 days. If demand for travel doesn’t improve, it might be necessary to take the jet around the traffic pattern a couple of times to satisfy the currency requirement, although at the time of this writing
Another unanticipated consequence affects pilot medical certificates. FAA sanctioned medical certificates expire on the last day of the month, and it’s not uncommon for pilots to delay renewal until the last week of the expiration month. High demand on the medical infrastructure led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ask doctors to postpone elective and non-urgent procedures to prioritize resources for Covid-19 response. FAA stated that “it is not in the public interest at this time to maintain the requirement of an FAA medical examination, which is a non-emergency medical service…” Consequently, FAA has suspended enforcement actions for medical certificates expiring between March 31 and June 30, 2020. Certificates that expired before this 4-month window are not covered by this exemption. Pilots who meet the requirement can refrain from renewing a medical until the last day of June 2020. Some aviation medical examiners (AMEs) continue to renew medical certificates during this timeframe. One busy AME with an office in a large population center remains open during this time because his practice is devoted exclusively to pilot medical certificates. His patients, most of whom are airline pilots, are not exposed to the general population during their visit. They have their temperature taken prior to an exam, and those with a fever are asked to reschedule. He also points out that his schedule fills up several weeks ahead of time, so there are no slots available in June. Pilots need to use their judgement to decide whether renewing a certificate during the pandemic is an acceptable risk. Those who require a medical certificate as a condition of employment, and decide to take advantage of the FAA exemption, may find scheduling an exam to be more difficult the longer they wait. Keeping flightcrews safe while flying during a pandemic has proved challenging. On March 12, 2020, FAA issued Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) number 20003, entitled “COVID-19: Interim Health Guid-
ance for Air Carriers and Crews.” Much like CDC, FAA recommends social distancing and is asking crews to eat alone and remain in their hotel rooms during overnight stays. It advises organizations to avoid public transportation and engage private services to transport crews to and from the aircraft.
To prevent or mitigate viral propagation, Flexjet treated all its aircraft with Microshield 360, a non-toxic, non-poisonous, FDA-approved product that protects against pathogens, mold, and odors. Microshield 360 consists of a disinfectant and biostatic finish applied in a 3-stage, aerosol-based process. The manufacturer claims the product can provide anti-microbial protection for up to 1 year. It is available through Constant Aviation, which provides the service through a Constant Aviation Rotable Exchange (CARE) subsidiary. Pricing shown on the CARE website indicates the cost of Microshield 360 to be $2750 and $3750 for small- and large-cabin aircraft, respectively. Installation is free when conducted at a CARE facility – CLE (Hopkins, Cleveland OH), CGF (Cuyahoga County, Cleveland OH), or SFB (Sanford, Orlando FL) – when combined with aircraft maintenance.
Operator approach Fractional jet provider Flexjet has adopted particular policies to protect crew members and passengers. Traditionally, the company used commercial airlines to position pilots and flight attendants for their assignments. Although airline load factors averaged less than 25% in the beginning of April, making it easier to keep a safe distance on board, Flexjet is keeping employees off the airlines by using its own jets to position crew members for assignments. Some organizations are dealing with the Covid-19 situation by isolating portions of the flight department, or standing down entirely. A strategy being used to minimize exposure, but still maintain operational readiness, is to pair specific pilots or crews together and not violate those arrangements. To illustrate, a department of 20 pilots would divide the cockpit crew into 10 teams of 2.
Photo courtesy Constant Aviation
Image courtesy Constant Aviation
Aerosol disinfectants are more effective than wiping down commonly touched surfaces with a cleaning solution. Constant Aviation treats aircraft with MicroShield 360, which can be applied in less than an hour. Aircraft can be returned to service shortly thereafter.
The members of those teams would only fly with one another. If a crew member exhibits symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19, only 1 other pilot (and perhaps a flight attendant) has been exposed, and now those individuals can be removed from duty without affecting the entire operation. Had the whole flight department been permitted to intermingle unabated, and a single person became symptomatic, the extent of the exposure would be unknown. Departments choosing not to fly at all during the pandemic are using the time to conduct e-learning and career enrichment activities online.
Financials of Covid-19 Just a few months ago, the biggest topic among corporate aviation managers was the inability to attract or retain talent as the airlines hired in record numbers. Now, according to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, his airline is in intensive care. But it’s not just Southwest that’s in financial duress. Airline revenues are severely down, hiring has stopped, and some are taking government money to make payroll. The airline “F” word – furlough – is being talked about as pilots become increasingly concerned about schedule reductions and almost no passengers. Corporate pilots are worried about the “new normal” of working from
home and avoiding face-to-face contact. When stay-at-home orders are lifted, will anyone want to travel again? Will the corporate aircraft be unwarranted? The rate at which airline traffic returns will be a vivid indicator of what’s perceived as “normal.” After all, the airlines’ entire model is based on fitting the greatest number of people in the smallest amount of space – not exactly a recipe for stopping the spread of disease. Being wedged shoulder-to-shoulder in the middle seat adjacent to a coughing stranger doesn’t sound desirable. It never did. But wanderlust is a powerful motivator. According to Aristotle, “Man is by nature a social animal,” and, “Society is something that precedes the individual.” In the long term, people will return to flying. The short-term solution is more complex. The ability to adapt to changes while remaining focused on the safety and longevity of the flight department is paramount in this time of unprecedented crisis. Shannon Forrest is a current line pilot, CRM facilitator, and aviation safety consultant. He has over 10,000 hours and holds a degree in behavioral psychology. PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 19
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20 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
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FBOs’ response to Covid-19 Here’s what ground service providers are doing to support business aviation.
Photos courtesy HKBAC
he world is in the grip of a pandemic. Among the activities that are affected is transportation, and aviation is not immune. Because of this, airport closures and flight cancellations are commonplace worldwide. On April 26, 2020, US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened only 128,875 passengers. On the same date in 2019, 2,506,809 travelers passed through TSA checkpoints. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) projects a shortfall this year of 1.2 billion air travelers, which represents between $160 and $253 billion in revenue losses for the industry in 2020. Authorities advise to keep flight activities limited to essential missions. And although it’s best to stay home, whenever business aviation operators need to travel somewhere, there are ground service providers ready to assist them. If you must travel, be prepared, and take all passenger, crew, and aircraft precautions.
Here’s what you can expect at FBOs in the US and abroad.
Hong Kong Business Av Centre HKBAC is maintaining normal service. “Safety is our top priority,” says Asst Mgr Business Devt Henry Ho. The FBO has deployed extra manpower for ground handling support in order to fulfill all special procedures imposed by the HKSAR Government during the time of the pandemic. Customers visiting HKBAC are checked for abnormal temperature on arrival before gaining access to the terminal lounge, which is now permitted only to passengers and crews. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is available, and all staff members are required to wear surgical masks. Flexible working hours are in place for non-operations staff in order to avoid large crowds during peak hours of public transportation, and frequency of disinfection has been increased at the facilities.
Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre
All visitors to HKBAC, including staff and tenants, will be checked on body temperature by security teams. Visitors with abnormal body temperature will not be allowed to enter HKBAC facilities.
Farnborough Airport Farnborough Airport continues to operate, providing service to its customers and the business aviation community. The airport is following clinically-driven medical advice from the relevant authorities on what measures are required to deal with Covid-19. This includes providing hand sanitizers throughout the airport, and enhancing its already thorough cleaning procedures with a specific focus on the regular cleaning of hard surfaces. Farnborough Airport
HKBAC is providing aircraft disinfection services. The company aims to maintain high aircraft hygiene standard for operators and travelers, especially to those who operate frequently to regions with fewer commercial flight connections during this period.
Farnborough Airport follows medical advice on actions dealing with Covid-19.
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Photos courtesy Farnborough Airport
By Pro Pilot staff
Photos courtesy Banyan
(Top) At Banyan, daily temperature checks are performed in each department to provide a healthy and safe working environment. (L) Banyan line service representative greets a pilot on arrival. Both are required to wear personal protective gear.
Based at FXE (Ft Lauderdale Exec, FL), Banyan has all departments open 24/7, although most of them have a reduced work schedule. The FBO is being sanitized every 6 hours, with hand sanitizers available at all reception desks. Hand-washing and social distancing reminders are posted throughout, and plexiglass barriers have been installed at the front desk. Aircraft arriving from “hot zones” are parked away from the terminal. In these cases, all crew/pax must fill out a Department of Health Mandatory Self-Isolation Airport Travel form, the crew must handle all baggage, and services and payment are done at the aircraft. Operators visiting Banyan during this period include Part 91, 91K, charter, air ambulance, and law enforcement.
Wilson Air Center employees have transformed company CSR scarves into face masks with designs that can hold filters.
Wilson Air Center
Photos courtesy WAC
Photos courtesy Sheltair
Sheltair Operations remain normal, with the exception of slight operational hour adjustments at a few bases. Changes to an individual base’s operations are updated on the company’s website (sheltairaviation.com). Sheltair has adapted its protocols in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to remain efficient, operational, and, above all, safe. This includes following CDC’s and NATA’s guidelines while adjusting work areas for social distancing, adapting work schedules to safely maintain operational continuity, elevating cleaning protocols, suspending crew car and courtesy rides, processing with hands-free programs like Avfuel Contract Fuel and the AVTRIP Loyalty Program, increasing communications to loyal tenants and operators, and offering new short-term hangar and ramp leasing options.
Sheltair JFK (John F Kennedy, New York NY) Customer Service Mgr Antonella Lombardi with Air Methods team.
Medical flights depart and arrive daily at Sheltair JFK.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 23
Líder Aviação is strictly following all measures to prevent coronavirus spread. The company is committed to supporting bizav, medevac, and humanitarian aircraft operations, and taking care of passengers, partners, and employees.
Líder Aviação Activities are running as usual, but with enhanced measures to prevent contamination. “We are committed to ensuring the health of our employees and clients,” says Marketing Manager Daniela Valadares. The company has offered air medical and ICU transport since 1992, and has a fleet of turboprops and helicopters configured according to the requirements for aeromedical removal. The Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency issued Líder with an extraor-
dinary authorization for biological cargo transport due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so the company is now working with hospitals, labs, and logistics companies to transport laboratory exams, biological samples, vaccines, medicines, medical equipment, and hospital supplies. To ensure visiting customers are handled in the safest possible way, an emergency committee was created which monitors closely and evaluates the situation and FBO bases, charter demands, special requests, and employees’ needs. Manny Aviation Services
Manny Aviation Services MAS provides handling services at most airports in Mexico. Its clientele includes Part 91 and 135 operators, but the company also supports demo, experimental, and diplomatic flights. Besides the regular services, during this special period, MAS has taken special care of medevac operations, humanitarian missions, and repatriation flights. In addition, the company coordinates ground ambulance services. MAS Senior Shift Supervisor Roberto Lara explains that work schedules are verified on a day-to-day basis, and they depend on location.
During these difficult times, MAS continues to assist general aviation ops across Mexico. MAS team at SJD (Los Cabos Intl, Mexico) supporting an air ambulance transporting a cruise ship crew member back to the US to get treatment for Covid-19.
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Photos courtesy MAS
Photos courtesy Líder Aviação
Photos courtesy Aerosupport FBO
Aerosupport FBO rep and Panamanian government officers prep a humanitarian flight at PTY (Tocumén, Panama City, Panama). The aircraft transports medical supplies to Central American countries.
Aerosupport FBO Aerosupport FBO is committed to preserving its clients’ and associates’ health and safety, while reassuring it continues to serve its customers – especially at these times. The company’s promise is to guaranty that all of its client’s operations comply with the standards required by civil aviation and airport authorities so heir flight operations remain active. The Aerosupport FBO team is capable of managing situations like this, and works constantly with the pertinent authorities to keep associates up to date with the most current and confirmed information in order to always ensure high quality service. Aerosupport FBO professionals are ready to handle top-priority flights, including repatriation operations, humanitarian flights, medevac missions, and tech stops.
Aerosupport FBO personnel assist medevac crew at MDE (Medellín, Colombia). (Below R) Air ambulance being prepared to transport a Covid-19 patient from CTG (Cartagena, Colombia) to TPA (Intl, Tampa FL).
Meridian While the pandemic has shut down many businesses, all of Meridian’s private aviation services are currently open and operational, including both FBOs at TEB (Teterboro NJ) and HWD (Hayward CA), charter operations, aircraft management, and aircraft maintenance and detailing. Meridian has taken precautions at its facilities and aboard its aircraft, including disinfecting aircraft with NBAA-approved cleaning products and UV air purification equipment, performing trip-by-trip risk analysis with regard to Coronavirus-affected areas, and training crew members in the recognition of sick passengers and how to handle people who show signs of sickness in flight. In addition, teams rotate to work from home and in the office to ensure bases are appropriately staffed with healthy individuals.
Clay Lacy Aviation Clay Lacy Aviation now provides comprehensive aircraft cleaning and disinfecting services at the company’s maintenance centers and through its mobile response teams using bipolar ionization equipment and EPA-registered, aviation-approved products to clean and disinfect aircraft interiors. Services are also provided by mobile response teams within 100 miles of VNY (Van Nuys CA), CLD (McClellan-Palomar, San Diego CA), SNA (John Wayne Orange Co, Santa Ana CA), and BFI (Boeing Field, Seattle WA).
Meridian has implemented safer practices to keep aircraft disinfected and it’s personnel healthy and safe.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 25
2020 PRASE WINNERS Wilson Air Ctr CHA is #1 US FBO. Texas Jet FTW #2, Pentastar PTK #3, Signature MSP #4, Signature STP #5. Best US Independent Texas Jet FTW. Most Improved Wilson Air Ctr CHA. Best US FBO Chains: Small (3–10) Wilson Air Center, Large (11+) Million Air. Pro Pilot readers returned 937 survey forms in the 47th annual PRASE (Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment) Survey of 2020. Original Pro Pilot FBO Survey initiated in 1974.
Pro Pilot staff report
ongratulations to all 2020 PRASE winners for their efforts to perfect their procedures and ensure customer satisfaction.
Top US FBOs US overall Wilson Air Ctr CHA Independent Texas Jet FTW Most Improved Wilson Air Ctr CHA Small Chain Wilson Air Ctr Large Chain Million Air
Top International FBOs/Handlers Canada Skyservice YUL Mexico Uvavemex TLC Caribbean Jet Aviation NAS (now Jet Nassau as of Jan 2020)
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 Pam Coates and Safety/Training Coordinator Louis Bell. (Back row L–R) Office Mgr Chris Bell, Ops Mgr Andrew Swain, Ops Supervisors Troy Pickett and Brian Schussler.
Latin America Aerosupport FBO BOG Europe Farnborough Arpt FAB Middle East & Africa Jet Aviation DXB Asia Hong Kong Business Av Ctr HKG
Top 10 US FBOs for 2020 with comparison rankings for the past 4 years 2020
1 Wilson Air Center
2 Texas Jet
6 Jet Aviation
8 Million Air
9 Business Jet Center
10 Monterey Jet Center
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FBO Personnel Line Tech Pat Walter, Signature MSP CSR Betsy Wines, Meridian TEB
Other services Catering – each region has a winner with no overall national one. Northeast – Rudy’s NJ area 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
2020 PRASE WINNERS
xcellent customer service is the main expectation when visiting an FBO. The FBO is under user scrutiny throughout the customer’s visit, including actions taken by line tech, CSRs, and ground services providers. Operators and executives evaluate each step of their FBO experience before deciding whether to become a repeat customer or select a different FBO. Pro Pilot created PRASE (Preference Regarding Aviation Services & Equipment) to give operators and executives an opportunity to evaluate and rank the entire range of services received during their FBO visit. For 47 years, since its creation in 1974, PRASE has been the benchmark for operators, presidents, executives, and flight department representatives. As a result, FBOs, handlers, line techs, CSRs, and ground service providers make their best efforts to deliver outstanding customer service and provide the best experience possible. Good attitude and creativity have become important factors in this process. Long relationships with customers have been developed due to the excellence of their services. Pro Pilot readers write their preferences on the PRASE Survey form, which contains no listings. Readers enter on blank lines their favorite FBOs, handlers, personnel, and ground service activities, based on memory and the experience they had during their visits. In one section, readers have a chance to evaluate US FBOs. Also, they can assess services from FBOs and ground handlers in Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia. FBO personnel services are also graded in PRASE. Readers have an opportunity to select their preferred line techs and CSRs and rate the quality of their assistance. Catering for aviation, fuel brand, aviation fuel credit card, international trip planning and MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) services that are essential to the success of these
operations, also get evaluated. And, to round out the PRASE Survey, readers vote for their preferred Pro Pilot writer. We’d also like to recognize all personnel and organizations work-
ing on the line during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic and making extra efforts so that aviation industry operations can continue worldwide. Thank you all very much!
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 Pro Pilot 2020 PRASE Survey.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2017 27
Final results of the 2020 Professional Pilot PRASE Survey Wilson Air CHA voted #1 US FBO Wilson Air Ctr CHA team (L–R): Office Mgr Chris Bell, Safety/Training Coordinator Louis Bell, Gen Mgr Glenn Rivenbark, Ops Mgr Andrew Swain, Lead CSR Amy Brother, Concierge Pam Coates, and Ops Supervisors Troy Pickett and Brian Schussler.
( ) denotes 2019 ranking * did not place in 2019
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
2020 FBO Airport Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness Value rank team & efficiency for price
1 WILSON AIR CTR
2 TEXAS JET
FTW 9.67 9.77 9.33 9.67 9.60 9.62 9.61
PTK 9.71 9.76 9.33 9.43 9.62 9.33 9.53
MSP 9.65 9.70 9.52 9.52 9.52 8.91 9.47
STP 9.50 9.83 9.17 9.28 9.56 9.06 9.40
6 JET AVIATION
PBI 9.76 9.76 8.94 9.06 9.53 8.76 9.30
SGR 9.10 9.21 9.70 9.55 9.20 9.00 9.29
8 MILLION AIR
HOU 9.27 9.29 9.53 9.60 9.00 8.73 9.24
9 BUSINESS JET CTR
DAL 9.30 9.07 9.25 9.32 9.19 9.08 9.20
10 MONTEREY JET CTR
MRY 9.53 9.53 8.84 8.95 9.48 8.79 9.19
11 ATLANTIC AVIATION
SJC 9.42 9.42 9.37 8.74 9.21 8.89 9.18
12 WILSON AIR CTR
CLT 9.76 9.55 8.76 8.70 9.35 8.91 9.17
13 MILLION AIR
ADS 9.50 9.54 9.08 8.88 9.05 8.77 9.14
14 WILSON AIR CTR
MEM 9.59 9.00 9.00 8.94 9.24 9.00 9.13
15 BANYAN AIR SVC
FXE 9.14 9.19 9.38 8.92 9.11 8.89 9.11
16 ATLANTIC AVIATION
MDW 9.13 9.60 9.00 8.93 9.07 8.67 9.07
17 NAPLES AVIATION
APF 9.63 9.33 8.83 8.38 9.17 8.96 9.05
TEB 9.16 9.47 8.92 8.82 8.96 8.85 9.03
19 JET AVIATION
IAD 9.40 9.33 8.93 8.80 9.07 8.33 8.98
20 WILSON AIR CTR
HOU 9.41 9.38 7.44 8.38 9.60 9.31 8.92
21 FONTAINEBLEAU AV
OPF 9.05 8.85 9.70 8.93 8.50 8.45 8.91
22 ATLANTIC AVIATION
TEB 9.18 9.38 8.50 8.50 8.82 8.41 8.80
23 DENVER JETCENTER
APA 9.10 9.14 8.10 8.29 9.00 9.00 8.77 (23)
24 JET AVIATION
TEB 8.95 8.98 8.71 8.54 8.63 8.34 8.69
TEB 8.58 8.82 8.72 8.72 8.38 8.29 8.59
Ranking Criteria for US FBOs – A minimum of 15 respondents with 6 categories, giving 90 individual evaluations from Pro Pilot subscribers, 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.
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2020 PRASE WINNERS Best Independent US FBO Texas Jet FTW wins Best Independent US FBO category. In front of winning personnel are (L–R) Pres Reed Pigman, Customer Svc Mgr Holly Hopkins, Line Svc Mgr Mario Sanchez, Book Keeper Lesa Moke, Assistant Line Svc Mgr Gabe Cross and Assistant to the Cust Svc Mgr Sarah Bichara.
( ) 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
9.67 9.43 9.55 9.32 8.95 8.92 8.38 8.82 8.93
Value for price
9.60 9.62 9.20 9.19 9.48 9.11 9.17 8.96 8.50
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)
Most Improved US FBO 2020 rank
Wilson Air Center Lovell Field Airport, Chattanooga TN up 32 places (33)
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.
Methodology The Professional Pilot 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 Professional Pilot magazine 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 – www.propilotmag.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. We monitored closely every form received. Only Pro Pilot subscribers’ votes were accepted. 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. 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.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 29
2020 PRASE WINNERS
US FBO Chains In the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey, small FBO chains have 3–10 bases. Large FBO chains have 11 bases or more. Those FBOs with only 2 locations are considered as 2 separate independents. FBO groups classified as networks are not considered FBO chains. PRASE judges established these definitions in 2011.
Best Small FBO Chain (3–10 locations) Wilson Air Center is delighted to be the #1 Best Small FBO Chain for 13 years (2007–2009 and 2011–2020). (L–R) Training Safety Supervisor Tyler Klee, CSR Carlye Garst, Line Mgr Cliff Adams, Line Tech Alec Hummel and CSR Tonya Mitchell.
( ) 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 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
9.49 9.00 8.92 8.82 9.10
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
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)
*JETCENTERS includes Denver jetCenter (APA), Colorado jetCenter (COS) and Ft Collins/Loveland jetCenter (FNL).
Best Large FBO Chain (11+ locations) Million Air is the #1 Large FBO Chain for 9 consecutive years. (L–R) Chief Commercial Officer Chuck Suma, Dir of Marketing Allie Woolsey, EVP of Corporate FBO Operations Jeff Stout, CEO Roger Woolsey, and Dir of Sales Dolores Johnson.
2020 FBO rank
Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency
1 MILLION AIR 9.23 9.43 9.10 2 SHELTAIR 9.33 9.35 8.77 3 ATLANTIC AVIATION 9.14 9.29 8.71 4 SIGNATURE 9.14 9.19 8.68 5 TAC AIR 8.85 9.02 8.62
9.03 8.77 8.43 8.48 8.19
9.12 9.00 8.92 8.86 8.70
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
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)
FBOs acquired after July 1, 2019 are considered as they were, as independent FBOs or part of the other chain, for this survey.
30 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
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2020 PRASE WINNERS
( ) denotes 2019 ranking
did not place in 2019
In addition to US FBOs, the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey determines the best international FBOs/handlers within the following areas—Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia. Farnborough Airport
Hong Kong Bus Av Ctr
Ranked by category scores and overall ratings
Best Canadian 2020 FBO Airport rank
Line CSRs Facility Amenities team
Promptness & efficiency
Value Overall 2019 for price rating rank
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
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
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
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
8.60 8.17 8.44 (3) 8.11 7.78 8.34 (*)
8.75 9.08 7.20 8.10
9.50 9.08 9.40 9.10 8.60 9.07 8.73 8.53 8.97
(1) (3) (2)
SKYSERVICE MONTREAL 2 SKYSERVICE TORONTO 3 SKYCHARTER TORONTO 4 SIGNATURE TORONTO
(3) (2) (*) (*)
Best Mexican 1
Best Caribbean 1
JET AVIATION - NASSAU BAHAMAS NAS 9.21 9.11 8.22 (JET NASSAU as of Jan 2020) 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
Best Latin American 1 AEROSUPPORT FBO - BOGOTÁ COLOMBIA BOG 9.25 2 LIDER AVIAÇÃO - SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL CGH 8.40
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
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
32 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 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
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2020 PRASE WINNERS ( ) denotes 2019 ranking
FBO Line Techs and CSRs
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 Techs
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
MERIDIAN SIGNATURE MERIDIAN TEXAS JET
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 CSRs 1 2 3 4
BETSY WINES ANNETTE TORGERSON VICTOR SEDA HOLLY HOPKINS
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 (Northeast, South, Mountain, Midwest, West and Middle Atlantic) Each region has a winner with no overall national one.
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.
34 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
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KPAE - Everett, WA
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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 takes top honors for the 7th year in a row. Photo shows some of the West Star team, including CEO Jim Rankin, Chairman Robert Rasberry, Pres & COO Rodger Renaud, and Cofounders Jim Swehla, Sam Haycraft, and Mike Durst.
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.
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Brent Bundy Operator Profile
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
Karsten Shein Weather Brief Grant McLaren Intl Ops
9.63 9.71 9.53 8.95
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)
Our Expertise. TM
Fa l c o n Citation Gulfstream Learjet Hawker Challenger Global E m b ra e r King Air Conquest Piaggio Maintenance Av i o n i c s Paint Interiors w e s t s t a ra v i a t i o n . c o m
OPERATIONS IN CYBERSPACE
Cybersecurity and connected aviation Knowledge, planning and vigilance, and training are the best defenses against threats across networks and systems. Data communication Cloud computing
Data communication Satellite navigation/GPS EFB
Aircraft communications Maintenance data
Data service providers
Operations & MRO
Air traffic management
The communications, navigation, and surveillance environment is complex. The description of a connected airplane as “a flying data center that continuously travels around the globe with safety-critical systems” is appropriate.
By Don Van Dyke ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
viation relies on cyber-enabled technologies to improve safety, efficiency, capability, and aircraft range. Greater data collection and analysis yield more efficient flightpaths, reduced flight times, lower fuel consumption and emissions, and other benefits. Data-driven insights also facilitate interactive inflight troubleshooting, early fault detection, predictive maintenance, and no-fault-found results, as well as a reduction in AOG events. Results are likely to include reduced labor and material maintenance costs. As technology and innovation advance, benefits will evolve in almost unimaginable ways. Since data, planning, communications, and management are core aircraft operating assets, cybersecurity must meet the challenges of an ever-changing environment. The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019 ranks cyberattacks 38 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
5th among the 10 most likely global risks. The Atlantic Council recently reported on the state of aviation cybersecurity and how poorly the problem of its compromise is understood.
Pilots and cybersecurity Flightcrews manage the airplane flightpath using a combination of automation and manual handling. Prolonged use of autoflight systems could lead to degradation of the pilot’s manual handling skills and erosion of troubleshooting abilities in the event of an abnormal operation. Safety authorities agree that loss of control–inflight (LOC-I) is the most significant cause of fatal accidents in commercial aviation. Avionics systems used to operate in standalone configurations physically isolated from other systems and external networks, but flightdeck architectures moved to integrated system designs to reduce form factor, weight, and required power. This has allowed incorporation of human/machine interfaces (HMIs) like touchscreens and
voice control, and connection to technologies like head-up displays (HUDs) and combined vision systems (CVS). Software development uses open architecture to improve interoperability and portability while reducing dependence on suppliers committed to proprietary designs. Greater connectivity requires additional measures to enforce isolation (where intended) and authorized data flows between different aircraft systems. Standards like ARINC 653 describe just such an open integrated modular avionics architecture, but safety certification issues are left undefined. The new system architectures require new fault-handling philosophies for use by flightcrews. When faced with technical faults, pilots can usually predict aircraft behavior as well as their own course of action. Hardware malfunctions in aviation are normally resolved by procedurally applying corrective measures, often by isolating the offending subsystem manually. Given ever greater interaction and control involving hardware and software, resolution of malfunctions may involve multiple interconnected systems, which requires greater pilot knowledge. In such circumstances, cyberattacks expose pilots to great uncertainty and the possibility of making ill-informed decisions based on ambiguous cues. It is here that professional pilots must rely on a greater understanding of cybersecurity.
Roles and responsibilities The pilot in command is responsible for, and has the final authority as to, the disposition of the aircraft, including as it relates to cyberattacks on the aircraft. Pilots must adhere to, and inspire, a culture of risk and vulnerability management, and data sharing in routine flightdeck operations, including cybersecurity. Moreover, as the designed balance between machine autonomy and human-assisted
Cybersecurity risk domains Cyberthreats (A digital act having potential to cause harm) Spoofing Modifies legitimate data to corrupt flight plans or GPS navigation data (compromises data integrity) Exploiting Executes malicious instructions (phishing, automated sabotage) on infected equipment Denial of service Disrupts service by causing loss of position, navigation and timing (PNT) signals Counterfeiting Inserting malicious content into a legitimate part, software, or database
operations evolves, it tends to progressively isolate the pilot from physical aircraft control. Overcoming associated difficulties is essential to maintaining situational awareness. Pilots must remain in control and be able to land, even if all ATC and non-essential equipment has failed. They are the last line of defense in the event of a cyberattack attempting to compromise or control the aircraft. Pilots must endeavor to preserve aircraft resilience against compromise. In aviation, trust is everything, and cybersecurity is no exception. Compliant avionics should meet requirements for confidentiality, integrity, and availability in safety-critical real-time operating systems. Ultimately, a path for confirmation must be made available to the pilots, and they must use it.
Connectivity, cyberthreats, and cyberattacks Aircraft connected with groundbased data delivery services have 3 operating domains – closed, private, and public – functionally tailored for specific user groups. These data delivery services are designed to collect, manage, and distribute information that keeps flightdeck and cabin crews, maintenance personnel, and passengers aware, informed, and entertained. Interference with networks and systems can include infection of interfaces or unauthorized access, use, disclosure, denial, disruption, modification, or destruction of electronic information. Adversaries continue to threaten or exploit vulnerabilities in systems. As systems become more connected,
Vulnerabilities (A flaw or inherent weakness in a security system) • Unsecured connections with portable devices • Legacy communications & navaid systems • Unsecured digital tools (scheduling software, digital document solutions, cloud backups and other remote systems) • Poor patch management compromising applications, firmware • Insufficient training in aviation cybersecurity • Unimplemented cybersecurity governance and control • Employee errors, including lost devices, shared passwords or succumbing to phishing schemes
cybersecurity is made more open to risks. Cyberthreats attempt to coerce access to a computer network without authorization from the owners, generally for nefarious purposes. A cyberthreat is an action not yet taken that concentrates on the vulnerabilities of aircraft and the data delivery services with which they are connected. The potential inability to withstand the harm identified by a cyberthreat is called vulnerability. Waiting for threats to surface often leads to being too late to interdict them. The need to proactively identify vulnerabilities intensifies with greater digitization and connectivity. The goal is to maintain the likelihood of breached cybersecurity as low as reasonably practicable (1 in 109 events). A mounted cyberattack may use multiple paths (vectors) to exploit target vulnerabilities. Professional pilots receive extensive training in fault-handling, but their developed expertise may not fully equip them to recognize cyberthreats and to manage the spectrum and breadth of cyberattacks possible.
Defenses Major aviation organizations have partnered to develop, communicate, and ensure understanding of cybersecurity, and to make related recommendations. Among many others, the following have been found particularly useful as high-level introductory materials for pilots: • International Federated Air Line Pilots Association Position on Cyber Threats (2016) and Briefing Leaflet on Cyber Threats (2017). • Air Line Pilots Association’s
Cyberattack vectors (A path or tool used to attack the target) Network connections between aircraft systems and vulnerable equipment • Components compromised via the supply chain • External connections with a portable device (EFB, laptop, tablet, USB device) Over-the-air (RF) attacks • Connections between aircraft and ground websites • Jamming with electromagnetic interference Interference • Corrupted services (GPS, ACARS, ADS-B, digital weather, satellite, Wi-Fi/cellular connections)
White Paper Aircraft Cybersecurity: The Pilot’s Perspective (2017). • IATA Position on Aviation Cyber Security (2019) and IATA Safety Report 2019 Edition 56 (2020). The nature of cybersecurity is multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary, and has the capability to affect a wide range of areas simultaneously and to spread rapidly. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Cyber Security Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructures gives guidance to “identify, protect, detect, respond and recover” from cyberthreats in order “to provide a high-level strategic view of the life cycle of an organization’s management of cybersecurity risk.” Aviation stakeholders list the NIST Framework as vital for cybersecurity. It refers specifically to the closely allied ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management (formally known as ISO/IEC 27001:2005), a framework of policies and procedures that includes all legal, physical, and technical controls involved in organizational information for risk management processes. In late 2019, ICAO published its Aviation Cybersecurity Strategy, recognizing that the human element is at the core of cybersecurity. ICAO’s framework is built on 7 pillars, and seeks global harmonization of state efforts to ensure cybersecurity regarding international cooperation; governance; effective legislation and regulations; cybersecurity policy; information sharing; incident management and emergency planning; and capacity building, training, and cybersecurity culture. PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 39
Nist Cybersecurity Framework v 1.1 Identify
Asset management Governance Operating environment Risk assessment Risk management strategy Training
Access control Data security Information protection Maintenance Protective technology Situational awareness
Training ICAO stresses that curricula relevant to cybersecurity, and aviation-specific cybersecurity at all levels should be included in the national educational framework as well as in relevant international training programs. All personnel who interact with aircraft, equipment, and infrastructure involving data handling (including flightcrew, cabin attendants, and maintenance staff) should receive cybersecurity training. Such equipment includes, but is not limited to, FMS, FANS, ACARS, CPDLC, and EFBs. Training should include high-level and appropriately detailed reviews of aircraft, ATM and data service provider domains; cybersecurity risk domains; and national and international defense frameworks. And anecdotal training examples should focus on cyberthreats, vulnerabilities, and cyberattacks; precautions to prevent cyberattacks or minimize their consequences; what a cyberattack might look like to an operating crew member; possible actions that may be taken in the event of a suspected cyberattack on their aircraft or any other part of aviation infrastructure, including appropriate contingency procedures; mandatory reporting of suspicious computer-related occurrences; and crew awareness that sensitive data might be gleaned from social networking sites. Pilots need training that elevates their collective awareness of potential threats and of how an aircraft can be compromised, with everyday examples like how an aircraft may receive malware by charging a mobile phone from the EFB USB port. Training may use classroom simulation games or surprise events in the simulator. All functionalities to monitor cybersecurity and mitigate breaches should be located on the flightdeck, and training is critically important to ensure that these are applied effectively. Although only a fraction of possible cyberattack scenarios can 40 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
Anomalies / events Analysis Detection processes Communications Security monitoring Improvements Mitigation Response planning
be trained, the underlying evaluation, decision-making, and mitigation skills should be comprehensive. That is, pilots should be trained to handle unexpected and unusual events and cues. ICAO’s 2019 Aviation Cybersecurity Strategy recommends and encourages exercises as useful tools to test existing cyber resilience and identify improvements. Such exercises can follow different formats (table-top, simulations, or real-time exercises) and also vary in scale (organizational, national, international). Such approaches facilitate the development of decision-making skills for unforeseen events while incurring minimal cost. A recent analysis of the role played by alerting systems in aviation accidents found that pilots often failed to detect or even understand incoming visual or auditory alerts. This cannot be trivialized, especially when noting that, after over a century of flying, pilots are still misled by stall warning systems alerts. Poorly designed alarms can greatly stress or distract pilots, failing to alert – especially during critical flight phases. A well-designed cybersecurity warning would identify the affected system(s), possibly with an indicated level of confidence. The warning system might also suggest different options for handling the impending threat, including a brief rationale for each option. While providing valuable support, such warning systems could not substitute for competent pilot decision-making nor awareness training.
Conclusions New technologies are catalysts for change, offering extraordinary new capabilities. Distributed technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing will be the next set of new technologies to spark a step change, allowing entire industries to reimagine themselves.
Recover Communications Improvements Planning Recovery Review
IATA notes that aviation cybersecurity is a key priority for air transport and the broader industry, particularly given increased digitization and the connectivity helping to transform approaches to customer experiences, aviation operations, delivery by service providers, and regulatory oversight, among others. Aviation is particularly unprepared for lapses in cybersecurity. In a 2020 report, one OEM reported that “there’s been painfully little research done regarding cyber vulnerabilities on aircraft.” Flightcrew, senior management, technical staff, and system designers all need to discount the illusion that their systems and services could manage or, at least, survive a cyberattack because nothing happened in the past. Even if safety is not impaired, the risk of serious business or financial consequences remains. As good as mechanisms for collecting data may be, and as far as agreed standards may take us, there is a measurable gap between aviation’s desire to employ data for decision-making and its trust in those data. Pilots are a fundamental and particularly important resource when developing strategies and resilience plans to mitigate inflight cybersecurity events. The professional pilot remains the last line of defense. Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montréal. He is an 18,000-hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.
Hurricane Dorian on September 2, 2019 as seen from the International Space Station. Tropical cyclones come in many sizes and strengths, but all pose a significant hazard to aviation.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
ropical cyclones are among the more destructive and unpredictable weather systems we face. Fortunately, their extended life and slow movement relative to other damaging weather phenomena allow us some ability to prepare and avoid these powerful storm systems. Called tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and northeast Pacific, typhoons in the northwest Pacific, and cyclones in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean, all are generically known in meteorology as tropical cyclones in that they are organized, rotating (cyclonic) storm systems that develop in the tropics, although they may move into extratropical latitudes. All tropical cyclones form as tropical depressions, but not all depressions become cyclones. As its name suggests, a tropical depression is a low-pressure region in the easterly tropical flow of the atmosphere. As with all low pressure centers, surface air is drawn inward and upward, kicking off an area of towering cumuli 42 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
and thunderstorms. Most depressions remain just that, disorganizing and dissipating after a few days. It takes a very specific set of circumstances for a tropical depression to grow into a tropical storm or hurricane. The depressions themselves normally begin as a short wave travels along the tropical easterly jet out over the warm ocean. When this upper-level disturbance meets the favorable conditions, a tropical depression may form.
Formative factors Criteria for tropical cyclone formation include the easterly wave, and a warm ocean. Normally, the ocean surface temperature down to a depth of around 50 m must exceed 26.5° C (80° F). This heat is necessary to ensure that the overlying air gains enough heat energy to destabilize and sustain convective lifting. This warm, maritime environment also supplies the water vapor that provides the energy necessary to sustain the system as it matures. Other formative factors include high humidity that extends into the middle levels of the troposphere, and a strong environmental lapse
rate. The atmosphere normally cools with height, but, in the tropics, the rate of cooling is often insufficient to support strong convection, instead favoring the typical tropical cumuli that bring passing showers and the occasional rumble of thunder. Meanwhile, a strong environmental lapse rate will ensure that rising air remains warmer than its surroundings, even as it is releasing heat through condensation – the heat that powers the storm. The last 2 factors are lack of windshear, and a position that’s far enough from the equator. The former is critical to ensure that the rising convective currents and accompanied towering cumuli are not toppled and disorganized by strong winds aloft. They must be able to continue to rise uninterrupted through the 50,000–60,000 ft levels of the tropical troposphere to the base of the stratosphere, where currents allow an exit region for the rising air. Tropical cyclones also don’t form within ~5 degrees latitude (~560 km or 350 miles) of the equator, because the Coriolis effect from the rotating Earth, which is zero at the equator, must be large enough to deflect airflow toward the low pressure center of the storm.
Hurricane hotspots Tropical cyclones occur across most of the tropical ocean, with key exceptions of the south Atlantic and eastern south Pacific, where atmospheric and oceanic conditions rarely favor organized tropical convection for long enough to sustain a tropical cyclone. Only 1 such storm has been recorded in the south Atlantic. In the north Atlantic and Caribbean, storm season begins on June 1, reaching a peak around September 10, and closing on November 30. The season in the eastern Pacific
Image courtesy NASA
These tropical storm systems can damage infrastructure and disrupt aviation.
starts a bit earlier – May 15 – but follows a similar behavior. Storm season is reversed for the Australian and southern Pacific regions, beginning November 1 as they enter southern Hemisphere summer, peaking around late February, and ending by April 30. A few extraseasonal storms have occurred in those basins, but they are infrequent and weak. The western North Pacific and Indian Ocean have a year-round hurricane threat. However, like their part-year cousins, they tend to see peak activity corresponding to the warmest ocean waters – that is, late February in the southern hemisphere and early September in the northern. The majority of tropical cyclones begin within 20º latitude of the equator, with just a few forming between 20º–30º latitude. Nearly all of them form along the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), which moves between the northern and southern hemispheres following the sun, and acts as a region of convergence for warm and humid air on both sides of the convergence zone.
Anatomy of a tropical cyclone Once an atmospheric disturbance creates a surface low around which thunderstorm activity can organize, the warm and humid surface air flows toward the central low. The Coriolis effect deflects the incoming wind to where it spirals inward. As it approaches the center, its curvature increases into a tightening spiral and its velocity increases proportionately. Near, but not in, the center, the air begins to rise, slowing its inward progress and reducing the Coriolis effect. This is why the strongest winds occur in the inner eyewall, but never reach the calm eye. The eye itself is largely a column of cooler air descending from aloft, frequently sufficient to suppress cloud development. Around this eye is the eye wall, a more or less continuous circular squall line of strong thunderstorms. Storms here can achieve tops above FL500, with their outflow radiating from the eye as a cirriform shield. Extending from the eyewall is a pinwheel of rain bands. These are curved squall lines that can contain strong storms as well, but as distance increases from the cyclone’s center, the decreasing concentration of en-
Damaged aircraft poke out from a collapsed hangar at BCT (Boca Raton FL) in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. Strong tropical cyclones can have sustained winds well over 100 kts and may inundate coastal airports with storm surge that exceeds 15 ft.
ergy and the sinking outflow from the system’s center conspire to reduce cell height and strength. The entire cyclone structure acts as a heat pump with an internal circulation drawing in energetic air at the surface and expelling cooler, drier air aloft. This vertical/horizontal flow is what drives the hurricane, while its spiral motion is what translates into the cyclone’s destructive force. Tropical cyclone movement is often difficult to forecast, and is sometimes described as resembling that of a cork in a stream. Cyclones are directed by 2 factors. The 1st is the surrounding atmospheric wind field, particularly mid-level (500 mb) winds. The easterly tradewinds on the equatorial side of the subtropical highs normally steer the storms westward. Beyond environmental steering winds, there is also movement meteorologists call “beta drift.” Beta drift is a poleward and westward motion due to complex feedbacks from internal horizontal air movement and an ever-changing Coriolis effect. In this way, a cyclone might still move in the absence of strong environmental steering. It is also a reason why storms will generally migrate poleward, eventually moving into a region of stronger westerly flow that ‘recurves’ the cyclones onto a more easterly track as they reach higher, extratropical latitudes. Although all parts of a tropical cyclone are dangerous, the storm’s movement, coupled with its rota-
tion, make certain regions more dangerous than others. The right front quadrant of the storm (left front in the southern hemisphere) relative to the storm’s track is the most dangerous, because the rotation and movement work in the same direction. This means the strongest winds are found here, as is the greatest storm surge as those winds push the water out ahead of the storm.
Cyclone forecasting Most modern weather forecast models can predict the formation and general movement of tropical cyclones with reasonable accuracy, but they still often have difficulty in estimating its track beyond a few hours. Instead, each model gives its best guidance and forecasters predict the most likely track, placing the hurricane at the center of an expanding corridor within which it may move. The so-called “cone of uncertainty” in tropical cyclone forecasting closely follows a traditional mariners’ guide called the 1-2-3 rule. Given the current location, radius of tropical storm force winds around the cyclone’s center, and the forward movement of the storm, a line is drawn on the map. At the storm’s expected position on that path 1 day out, the width of the cone is the storm’s radius + 100 nm. At 2 days, the width is +200 miles, and at 3 days is +300 miles.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 43
Image courtesy NOAA
Official forecast cone of uncertainty showing the probable path of Hurricane Irma in 2017 as it approached the eastern Caribbean. Cones represent the most likely area in which the cyclone will track, and with large systems, hazardous weather often occurs well outside of the cone.
Modern forecasting is not a simple linear trend, but rather uses forecast errors over the past 5 years to set the width of the cone at 67% of the greatest errors. Forecasters also take the forecast cone out 5 days, but even that sometimes proves inaccurate, which is why the forecasts are updated every 6 hours – or more frequently if the cyclone is threatening landfall. Given the success of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (aka European) model at predicting the tracks of Atlantic tropical cyclones, many ask why we don’t just use this model. That’s because its success is largely due to chance, not better physics. Most weather models are in very close agreement over the 1st day or 2, but tend to diverge with greater forecast lead times. So-called spaghetti plots (maps of the forecast tracks of many models) will similarly reveal a forecast cone. The narrower the cone, the more the models agree on a likely track.
Cyclones and aviation Impacts on aviation from cyclones are normally not airborne. Given the ubiquitous satellite imagery of these storms, routine forecasting, and frequent alerts, there is no excuse for
44 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
any pilot to accidentally penetrate a tropical cyclone. A few intrepid pilots do so on purpose to collect scientific data that helps forecasters, but they’re experienced and well equipped to do so. The rest of us normally have ample time to see the storm coming, know where it is, and stay out of its way. The greatest danger to aviation is ground based. Airports may close as a storm approaches, and aircraft and facilities may be damaged by the high winds, heavy rains, and even tornadoes that accompany these cyclones. Just as people living in hurricane-prone regions should have hurricane preparedness plans, pilots operating or based at airports in these areas should have a plan in place for evacuating aircraft to safety, and airports should have a plan to minimize impacts and damages so they can reopen quickly. Aircraft evacuation plans do not have to be complicated, and moving an aircraft is far less expensive and disruptive than repairing or replacing one. Landfalling tropical cyclones quickly lose their punch after crossing over the coastline and being cut off from their fuel supply of warm ocean water. Airports that are further inland, even less than 100 km (62 mi), and situated on higher
ground, will usually be subject to less intense conditions than those experienced at coastal airports. It is best to avoid evacuating to inland airports that sit along a river, as cyclones can still drop over 1 m (39 in) of rain well inland, turning lazy rivers into dangerous flood hazards. If you cannot evacuate your aircraft, the best course of action is to ensure it is securely tied down or hangared, but your aircraft may still be damaged in such a scenario. There is no point in trying to tie your aircraft down facing the wind, as winds during the passage of a tropical cyclone will come from several directions, and there may be tornadoes as well. In addition, at low-lying coastal airports, storm surge may be 10–15 ft deep or more and will damage or destroy much in its path. You should also check whether you could get to an airport after the storm passes. As was made clear in Huston TX after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, substantial rain can flood out entire communities, making roads impassible – including airport access roads. Even if roads are not flooded, downed power lines or emergency closures may restrict movement. It may be several days before aircraft owners would even be able to assess damage to aircraft left at the airport. Airports also may remain flooded for days to depths that may require a thorough inspection and perhaps overhaul of any aircraft partially submerged. Most importantly, however, unless you are also planning to evacuate with the aircraft, an aircraft evacuation plan should be implemented well before the last minute, as that time should be set aside to ensure your own safety. Give yourself time to move your aircraft and return to make final preparations either for sheltering in place or evacuating yourself and family.
Karsten Shein is co founder and science director at ExplorEiS. He was formerly an assistant professor at Shippensburg University and a climatologist with NOAA. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.
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Bizav activity in Europe
Image courtesy Eurocontrol
Equipment mandates and other considerations when flying to and within the European Union.
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
he European operating environment for general aviation (GA) can be very different from that of North America, but, with adequate trip planning, it’s certainly a manageable proposition. So long as crew and equipment meet appropriate certifications and qualifications to deal with the North Atlantic Organized Track System (NAT-OTS), operators should be well prepared to fly within the European regulatory arena. “Europe remains a fairly easy and straightforward operating environment for business aviation, particularly when flying private, and it has not become much more difficult recently from a regulatory perspective,” says Jeppesen Vendor Relations Mgr Mark O’Carroll. “The situation, however, can become more complex in the case of charter operators, as prior accreditation and landing permits are routinely needed.” International support providers (ISPs) note that night closures and
46 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
Eurocontrol graphic shows the massive drop in air traffic across European airspace due to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to last year.
curfews can be a limitation at many European airports. In addition, overnight or long-term parking is not guaranteed at many major airports and at popular Mediterranean locales during high season. COVID-19 has been affecting GA ops to the European Union (EU). Because of this pandemic, certain airports remain closed even to movements of European-registered aircraft, and health-related restrictions change from day to day. ATC and airport services strikes and labor action, particularly in France, also continue to adversely influence European movements from time to time. Avfuel Account Exec David Kang points out that the EU operating environment has become more welcoming, manageable, and efficient over recent years for well-prepared operators. “In some ways, ops to Europe have become easier in terms of more GA facilities, services, and airports that are more focused today
on business aviation needs,” he says. “But the regulatory environment has become stricter in terms of enforcing regulations, particularly as they try to squash charter operators pretending to be private. Authorities often take a closer look at paperwork from operators who routinely make multiple stops in the EU. Safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) checks have also ramped up across the EU.”
Equipment mandates In order to maximize airspace utilization, new mandates for controller–pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Contract (ADS-C) have been put in place for the NAT-OTS over the past year. More datalink requirements are being considered within the EU, together with RNAV 1 approaches and additional coordinated slots at certain airports. “Incremental improvements have made
the European operating environment better and more efficient in many ways,” points out UAS Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. “Keep in mind that the EU can be a less flexible operating environment than its Stateside counterpart. You’ll be dealing with both airway and airport slots, prior permission required (PPR) at certain locations, flow control, and scheduled airways. At some locations, you may really need to adhere to schedule and/or be prepared to deal with last-minute changes.” At larger airports in Europe, you may be at the mercy of local airport authorities if you miss a confirmed slot time. Should you cancel a slot and file for 1 hour earlier, you’ll be placed in the back of the line.
Slots and overnight parking Overnight GA parking may not be available at many Mediterranean destinations during peak season. Absent extreme circumstances, NAP (Naples, Italy) rarely allows overnight parking, and FLO (Florence, Italy) often requires repositioning. Airports on the Croatian coast are busy during summer, while both BCN (Barcelona, Spain) and LIS (Lisbon, Portugal) are highly congested during the season. “If you’re operating to JTR (Santorini, Greece), CFU (Corfu, Greece), or IBZ (Ibiza, Spain) during summer, you’ll be able to drop and go, but there’s no overnight parking,” adds LeDuc. Access and parking may be challenging even at larger airports. NCE ((Nice – Côte d’Azur, France), for example, is always congested from May through September. “Airports in Paris and Rome usually seem to have overnight parking availability, but FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) can be tough in terms of slots and parking,” says Kang. “EDI (Edinburgh, Scotland) runs out of overnight parking, so you may need to reposition to PIK (Prestwick, Scotland). ATH (Athens, Greece) is also getting increasingly busy. Until the beginning of last summer, ATH was only guaranteeing parking 24 hours out, but this has now eased somewhat.” In southeast England, parking at popular LTN (Luton) and STN (Stansted, London) has become more challenging and cannot always be guaranteed. There will be no available airport slots or parking at LTN at times,
LTN (Luton, UK) is a popular airfield for ops into central London. Be mindful of limited airport slots, occasional constrained parking opportunities, and tight noise restrictions at LTN.
and this location tends to run out of night slots during summer months. At STN, on the other hand, access may be fine during the day, but there may be only 10 night slots available, and parking can be difficult. While the London area has become more congested, there are so many airport options that parking is still possible. “You may not be able to get the airport slots or parking you want at LTN, and night slots/parking may be difficult to obtain at STN,” says Jeppesen Vendor Relations Mgr Ian Humphrey. “Some operators opt to land as far away as SEN (Southend) – a 60–75 min drive into central London – to ensure overnight parking of aircraft as big as ACJs or BBJs.”
Noise, airways, coordinated slots, and strikes When operating within the EU, be aware of noise restrictions and limited airport hours. As a general rule, many European airports are open about 18 hours a day (rather than 24 hours as in North America), so plan accordingly. Some smaller airports offer overtime, but this depends on local noise abatement policies. Kang recalls a recent case of a Gulfstream G650 client receiving a noise bust ticket out of LTN. “This particular fine was for about £1500, so noise busts can be significant. Note that noise abatement rules tend to change year to year, particularly during summer months. You cannot always rely on what the situation was last year, or even what’s posted in the AIP.” ISPs point out that more direct routing options within the EU are possible these days, particularly
when flying FIR to FIR at either side of a country. However, it’s not always straightforward to determine this from airway charts, so it’s best to seek guidance from Eurocontrol’s trip validator options. Airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM) slots exist at a number of European airports. This involves strict procedures on when to start up, when to call in for push, and clearance. “As many foreign operators are not familiar with coordinated slot procedures, this can throw you off a little as you’ll need to make requests in a specific order and time frame,” explains Kang. “While this is not that difficult, it’s an awareness issue.” New datalink mandates are beginning to affect GA ops within the EU for aircraft over 100,000 lb MTOW. Also, RNP requirements pop up here and there. “NCE has implemented RNP-1 procedures on certain approaches,” says Jeppesen Trip Support Specialist Paul Dowling. “Although these requirements are not yet fully mandated for foreign-registered operators, we envision such requirements expanding across Europe.” Note that ATC and airport strikes happen across Europe from time to time. “We’re seeing more and more strikes across the region,” says LeDuc. “While strikes can happen quickly, we usually have some sort of advance notification, and operators are usually able to route around affected areas.”
Charter ops Charter operators have faced more challenges in the EU in recent years. These activities need third country operator (TCO) certification, and it’s
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020 47
Safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) inspections occur across the EU and can take 30–90 minutes to complete, depending on how prepared the flightcrew is for such an event.
important that operators ensure that every aircraft in their fleet is properly registered with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The process of obtaining a TCO can take more than 30 days. “Operating conditions have become more stringent for charter, and the EU is now adhering more strictly to ICAO recommendations,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller. “We recently had a charter operator with a TCO that added a new aircraft to its fleet. The operator had to postpone a charter flight until the new aircraft was registered on the TCO. No charter permit was issued until this was accomplished.” ISPs suggest that passengers on private flights carry evidence of their connection to the company or aircraft owner. “Even just carrying some sort of company ID can help you get around a lot of potential cabotage problems, and it shows a level of diligence,” notes Kang. As of Dec 2019, higher levels of insurance have been mandated for charter operators within Europe. “Many operators had not been notified of this, so they’ve been scrambling in order to ensure these new requirements are met,” adds LeDuc. Be mindful that the UK requires collection of air passenger duty (APD), a kind of departure tax for all passengers leaving the UK that poses a significant cost. “Rates keep going up,” notes Fuller. “For a long-haul GA flight in aircraft over 20 metric tons, the tax/duty is now about £515 per passenger. Rates tend to increase each April.” 48 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / May 2020
Activity at smaller airports When operating to secondary and smaller airports in the EU, be prepared for service limitations. Not all smaller locations offer lav and water services, and catering may need to be sourced from local hotels. Also, airport hours are often limited, fuel services may be less than reliable, and credit could be an issue. “You may want to use a regional handling service from a nearby larger airport to assist you with credit, handling, parking, and language barriers,“ says Kang. “In Europe, pilots do not enjoy the elevated status they have in the US. For example, they may not be given much attention, or they might just be told to wait.” In addition, operators can run into unique restrictions at chain FBOs at larger airports in Europe. A case in point is LTN, where operators may be restricted as to which fuel trucks are permitted on the ramp, and they may not have the ability to self-cater via outside providers.
SAFA checks SAFA ramp checks take place across Europe with increasing frequency, say ISPs. “Carry a SAFA checklist and make sure your equipment and certifications are up to date,” recommends ITPS Sr Ops Specialist Curt Kurshildgen. “A ramp check can take 30–60 min if everything is in order, or 1–2 hours if inspectors think things may not be in order.” LeDuc suggests crews have an electronic binder with all re-
quired documents in the same order as on the SAFA checklist, while also having hard copy docs available. “Make it as easy as possible for the inspectors,” he adds. “Don’t let them sense that you’re incompetent or disorganized in any way.” Kang notes that SAFA inspectors usually arrive a couple of hours prior to departure, and do not spring a check on you 30 min prior with passengers already on board. “Page 1 of the SAFA check includes basic documents, and involves a walkaround looking for aircraft damage, leaking fluids, etc. If they catch you, it will usually be on the major stuff right out of the gate. Then they’ll start digging deeper, and they may review your maintenance logs.”
Summary Be mindful of the possibility of reduced schedule flexibility when operating to and within Europe. “Larger international airports in the EU may occasionally be difficult in terms of maximizing operating flexibility and your ability for schedule revisions,” cautions Dowling. For 1st-time operators to Europe, ISPs recommend some degree of international ops training, as well as flying with a flightcrew member who has some experience in the European country you’re visiting. “You want at least 1 pilot on board who’s been to this region before and is familiar with NAT-OTS procedures,” observes Kang. “For 2 rookie pilots heading to the EU, using self handling and just kind of winging it, everything will be a surprise and it could turn into a bad day. Dealing with a different set of regs can be hard enough, but wait till you’re on the ground – your nightmare may just have begun. Ground crew may not respond to you in the way you expect, and there may be challenges in dealing with customs/ immigration, filing paperwork, and arranging prompt refueling. Consider using an ISP to assist with regulatory awareness and to smooth out the process.” Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 40 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.
ONE JOURNEY TOGETHER Today and always, we are dedicated to keeping you safe, secure and connected.
Professional Pilot Magazine May 2020