The Top 3 Reasons to Network

Over a year ago, I wrote two posts about networking at a business aviation conference.  While networking seems like a no-brainer to those already in the industry, I found that it is difficult to break into the different groups as a student (and still do as a young professional).  While some professors and advisors push networking, or provide different opportunities, I feel that many students do not network at all.  For example: four years of higher level education, and many students have very few industry contacts outside of their university.  This to me is a worrying situation as our entire industry is often based on the connections you hold with others, after they look at your resume, transcript, etc.  In today’s post, I will discuss my top three reasons to network, no matter what industry you are in.

#3: Networking is Easy

For all the introverts, extroverts, skeptics, and everyone else in-between, I promise you it is not as intimidating as it seems.  Sure, you say I have been networking several years and that it does not scare me.  I am going to tell you a secret: I am an introvert and it scares me to death every time I go to a networking event.  By nature, big crowds are not my thing and I would rather talk to a person one-on-one.

The key to making networking easy is practice.  Simple ways of doing this are talking with new classmates each semester, getting to know your academic advisor, or other professors.  You can even extend this into your personal life by engaging with friends, family, the community, or people in your church.  Conversation is all about passing the ball back and forth.  A good way to start is to say “Hi, my name is ‘x’”.  They will usually respond with their name and what their title is, etc.  This is a good time to ask them about how they got to where they are, about their airport/company/airline, and what they enjoy about their job.  The key is to get the conversation rolling and you will find out what you have much in common.

Other ways of making networking easier is to smile, be friendly, use positive body language, and of course, PRACTICE!

#2: Networking is (Almost) Free

One day, you are sitting in class and your professor walks in with a visitor.  This visitor works in your industry in a job that closely relates to your class and you are drawn in to their presentation about their position, the company they work for, and more.  Maybe on another occasion, you find yourself traveling and while doing your homework, someone inquires about your field of study.  Perhaps you’re at your favorite coffee shop and a fellow customer asks about your presentation.

These “happy accidents” happen at almost no cost to you as a student.  They are often the by-products of classes you are already taking, professors and peers you interact with, or as simple as a passing comment to a fellow traveler as you are on vacation.  Students are always on a budget, so it is important to realize that networking can cost you very little in the short term, but the intangible benefits are massive in the long term.

Let me give an example: Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a strategic planning session for the Great Lakes Region (GLC) Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).  This even was a happy accident as Grand Forks International Airport happens to be hosting their Winter Board Meeting in preparation to hosting the GLC Regional Conference.  Our professor for Advanced Airport Operations knows many members of the chapter and arranged for us to attend a one-hour session during our normal class period.  Many students carpooled and it only cost us the gas to get to the hotel.  We met at least 20 different people in management positions at airports in the GLC Region.

My point is that networking can be very affordable for students.

#1: Networking is Always a Good Idea

Now, I am probably being obvious here, but getting to know those in your industry and field is always a good idea.  It builds professional relationships that will last for years and you end up with a network that you can contact at any point.

For instance, I am working on a portfolio for my Advanced Airport Operations class that involves me answering various questions related to my field.  In some cases, it requires a lot of research and personal interviews.  I reached out to an individual who runs a small airport in the western part of the United States and interviewed him.  This was all because I had applied for a job there and even though I did not get the position, he told me to contact whenever I needed something.

As my professor writes in her syllabus about attending class, networking: “it’s a good idea…”

Final Thoughts…

I believe that networking is a valuable tool that we need to instill into our professional lives, but also encourage it in those around us whether a fellow coworker, a student, or a family member.  I would not be able to network as well without the encouragement (and sometimes prodding) from those around me in many areas of my life.

I attribute my network to the individuals who are willing to just to have a conversation.  And really, sometimes networking is as simple as a cup of coffee with a coworker – it is easy, cheap and always a good idea.

Happy Networking!

Image courtesy of Google.com.

Understanding RCAM

In July, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a draft Advisory Circular (AC) entitled Airport Field Condition Assessments and Winter Operations Safety.  Essentially, this draft AC cancels the previous AC 150/5200-30C, Airport Winter Safety and Operations from December of 2008.

Changing ACs, regulations, etc., is no small task – this AC changes how conditions on the airfield are reported.  RCAM, or Runway Condition Assessment Matrix, is going to look a lot different than what pilots are expecting to see.  Today’s article will strive to shed some light on a new reporting system as we are now well into winter.

The Old Way

You might remember way back in your Private Pilot Ground School learning about Braking Action Reports (BARs for today’s purposes).  BARs included two correlating pieces of information:

  • Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPS) – Pilots are expected to provide a PIREP to Air Traffic Control (ATC) if the braking action is less than “Good” (more on what consists of “Good” later).
  • Runway Friction Mu Reports – These are often referred to as “Mu values”. These numbers are typically shown as whole numbers in the United Sates (U.S.) and as decimal values round to two places in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
    1. 0 would be the lowest friction value, while 100 is the highest.
    2. These values are given as an average of every third of the runway to generate a Mu value for the entire runway.
    3. In addition to Mu values, there will be a contaminant conditions for each corresponding section of the runway (e.g., snow, slush, deicing chemicals, etc.).
matrix_old
This is the old criteria used.  Very simply for both the airport user and operator.

Lastly, pilots (at least in General Aviation) tend to pay attention to the words used to describe the runway conditions.  The following words have an attached meaning (AC91-79, Appendix 1):

  1. Good – the braking deceleration is normal for the effort applied and directional control is normal (Mu is 40 and above).
  2. Medium (Fair) – the braking deceleration is not as good and is more noticeable; directional control may be less (Mu is 35 to 30).
  3. Poor – braking is significantly reduced, as well as the potential for hydroplaning; directional control may be significantly reduced (Mu is 25 to 21).
  4. Nil – braking is minimal to nonexistent and directional control ability is uncertain (Mu of 20 and below).

As pilots, we most likely just were given a word or ATC telling us “Braking action is Fair”.  We did not often know the background behind what these values stand for.  Hopefully, this informs the average user a little more.  Next, I will discuss what the new system entails and how that is different for pilots.

The New Way

As of October 1st, 2016, under RCAM the braking action codes remain mostly the same with words such as “Good”, “Poor”, etc.  The biggest change is the replacement of “Fair” with “Medium” – they mean the same thing, however, the FAA decided to simply change the word.  The graphic below shows visually what the airport will use versus what a pilot will use.

runway_condition_codes_faa_rcam
A side-by-side comparison of what the airport uses and what the pilot uses.

As you will notice, the pilot still uses the word descriptors, while the airport is now using a numbering system that ranges from zero to six.  Zero is the “Nil” end while six is “Good”.  Zero can also be thought of as ice and six as completely clear.

It is important to note that the Runway Condition Codes (RCCs) are given for every third of the runway.  An example would be the following: 4/3/3.  Each third represents the parts of the runway: Touchdown, Midpoint, and Rollout.  These RCCs correlate with the Mu values that are measured by the friction tester, if the airport employs one. These RCCs helps a pilot to properly visualize what conditions are affecting what points of the runway.

As the descriptors of the conditions are somewhat lengthy, I will not go into detail in this post to describe each condition.  However, I would recommend that all pilots reference the FAA’s website as well as their home airport’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs) in addition to any field condition reports that might be issued as well.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this blog has shed some light on an interesting and somewhat confusing new regulation.  While pilots may see some slightly new wording in reports from airports, this rule affects many commercial airports especially when it comes to major snow events.  As this is the first winter that the new rule has been affect, it remains to be seen how airports are handling this new regulation.  Hopefully, it will be a safe winter season for all the hard-working Airport Operations personnel!

Have a comment on experiencing RCAM at your local airport?  Leave it below!

Images courtesy of Google.com.

BasicMed: A Big Deal?

Several months ago, I wrote about the 3rd Class Medical Reform and what it meant for pilots.  Recently, the FAA published a new rule called BasicMed which is the latest in the medical reform issue.

In a Nut Shell

In the wake of the 3rd Class Medical Reform ruling, BasicMed comes as a relief for pilots that have held a valid medical certificate within the last 10 years – this look-back period starts July 15, 2016 and applies to regular and special issuance medical certificates.  However, you cannot just go back to flying if you had a medical certificate revoked in that period.

First, pilots must find a state-license physician and complete the associated checklist for the BasicMed.  Next, an online aeromedical course must be taken and passed.  These tasks must be done in that order as the information will need to be transmitted on successful completion.  The online course has to be taken every two years and pilots must visit their primary physician every four years at least.

As we saw in the 3rd Class Reform ruling, the pilots that complete the prerequisites for BasicMed will be able to fly aircraft with up to six passengers and weighing up to 6,000 pounds, in IFR or VFR, day or night, up to 18,000 feet and 250 knots in the United Sates.  However, BasicMed prohibits flying for compensation or hire.  While not being able to exercise the privilege of a full commercial license, it is important to note that some preexisting medical conditions make flying for hire inherently dangerous.

Currently, there is not an online aeromedical course, but AOPA.org is currently working to have the FAA approve their course “Fit to Fly”.

fit2fly

What This Means for General Aviation

This particular ruling is a big deal for those in general aviation.  This means that many pilots that were precluded under the old 3rd Class Medical rules now have the chance to take to the skies again at a reduced cost with almost all of their previous privileges, excluding flying for hire.  While the ruling is but days old at this point, it will be interesting to see if this will revitalize the general aviation population and perhaps to encourage younger generations to fly.

Is this rule a big deal?  Of course!  As a proponent of general aviation, anything that gets people out there back flying is a good thing.  As someone who has seen friends lose their medicals for innocuous reasons, I hope BasicMed allows them to get back to the skies where they belong.

Have comments? Leave them below!

For more on this rule, check out these articles:

EAA & AOPA

Images courtesy of Google.com

The Top 10 Business Jets

It’s hard to believe that just over 100 years ago, flying was just a pipe dream.  We’ve come a long way and now aviation has a part to play in many industries and has become its own segment of the aerospace industry.  “Business aviation” refers to any aircraft that are used in furtherance of a business.  According to the National Business Aviation Association, business aviation contributes approximately $150 billion to economic output and employs at least 1.2 million people (NBAA.org).  While only about 3% of the 15,000 registered business aircraft are flown by Fortune 500 companies, the rest belong to varying sizes of for-profit and not-for-profit companies all over the United States – this includes universities, local and federal government, and other businesses.

Arguably, the future of aviation is business aviation and Globalair.com has their top ten picks for business aircraft backed up by several years of experience in aircraft sales.

#10: Gulfstream 550 (G550)

If there is one company that evokes luxury in their aircraft, Gulfstream Aerospace has to be it.  The sleek frame of the G550 cuts through the air at 0.80 Mach using two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines with a max cruising altitude at 51,000 feet.  This luxury jet can be configured up to 19 passengers and sleeps 8 comfortably.  If you’re looking to escape the cares of everyday life easily, or reach your international group in England, the G550 has a range of almost 7,000 nautical miles (nm).

While it boasts a comfortable ride for passengers (a cabin over 40 feet long), pilots aren’t soon forgotten with the state of the art PlaneView™ flight deck featuring some of the most advanced avionics known in existence.  The flight deck features four liquid crystal displays for your flight crew with easy software upgrades making it compatible to your flight department, no matter how big or small.  Additionally, a Head-Up Display (HUD) is included in the G550 that projects flight data in the pilot’s forward-looking field of vision.  In times of reduced or obscured vision, such as inclement weather, the Enhanced Vision System (EVS) uses infrared technology to capture what the pilot cannot see – runway markings, taxiways, and other terrain are now visible in poor weather conditions.

According to the NBAA, the G550 has the reliability of 99.9% — this means out of five years of service, you will only miss one trip (Gulfstream.com).  In a world where time equals money, this is a statistic to get behind.

#9: Gulfstream 200 (G200)

The little brother to the G550, the G200 had its first flight on Christmas Day in 1997 and was later released in 1999.  While Gulfstream no longer produces the G200, it doesn’t keep it from being a popular used aircraft.  It was originally named the “Astra Galaxy”.

Like most Gulfstream aircraft, the G200 boasts a large cabin size that can hold to 18 passengers, but typically configured for 8-10 passengers.  Unlike the Rolls-Royce engines, the G200 runs on two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A turbofans producing a maximum cruise spend at 0.80 Mach, similar to the G550.  While it has approximately the same cruising speed, the G200 has almost half the range at 3,400 nm at 45,000 feet which makes it a perfect aircraft for domestic flights here in the U.S.

From this description, the G200 can be seen not only as a predecessor to the G550, but the smaller, less expensive version of the G550.  The G200 is an excellent aircraft for a business that does mostly domestic flights.

#8: Hawker 4000

Taking a break from the Gulfstream family, the Hawker 4000 hails from Beechcraft which is owned by Textron Aviation – the parent company to Cessna and others.  Produced from 2011 to 2013, the Hawker 4000 was quickly realized as the top jet product by Beechcraft.

A worthy competitor to the G200 as well as slightly newer, it can seat up to ten people (14 maximum) and has average of 6 feet of standing room in the interior cabin.  It cruises at 45,000 feet with a range of 3,445 nm and 870 km/hr.  A common identifier of the Hawker 4000 is the hawk profile painted in tan on the tail section.

If you’re currently in the G200 as an airframe, a newer and comparable version would be the Hawker 4000.

#7: Hawker 800XPi

A predecessor to the Hawker 400 is the Hawker 800 which was first produced in the early 1980s.  A later version of the Hawker 800 was the XP and XPi which was most notable by the addition of winglets.

Like the previously mentioned aircraft, the 800XPi is similar in size when it comes to passenger capacity and length.  The maximum speed in cruise is 745 km/hr while its range is the shortest out of the group at just under 2,000 nm and has a service ceiling at 41,000 feet.  However, it’s rate of climb is nothing to sneeze at – 1,948.8 feet/minute!

#6: Citation Sovereign

We now switch gears back to the Textron company to that of Cessna and the Citation Sovereign.  This particular aircraft is classified as a mid-size business jet and at the time of its introduction in 2004, the third largest in the Citation line (weight-wise).

A unique feature of the Sovereign is its ability to take off and land in short distances which is unusual in a business jet.  For corporations and private companies, this becomes a valuable feature for plants and factories situated in small towns with short runways.  Not only does the Sovereign get you there fast (848 km/hour), but it also is considered a transcontinental aircraft with a range of over 3,000 nm.

#5: Falcon 2000

In our plethora of business aircraft manufacturers, we come to Falcon (birds of prey do make good names).  Dassault Aviation is a French aircraft manufacturer that can be seen as a fairly healthy competitor to Textron’s companies as well as Gulfstream.  Probably the most notable of the Falcon line are the aircraft that have three engines, however, the 2000 is the one of the older models in the line with just two engines.

Like other aircraft in its class, the 2000 has comparable speed as well as range which is 3,000 nm.  The impressive thing about the 2000 is its ability to climb to 37,000 feet in just nineteen minutes – that’s just over 1,900 feet/minute!

#4: Challenger 605

We’ve finally come to our last brand name in jets (although not our last pick) which is that of Challenger.  It’s one of the few non-American manufactures and actually is produced by Canadair which you might recognize as the manufacturer of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ).  Coincidentally, Canadair is an independent company that is also a division of Bombardier Aerospace – famous for its Bombardier Business Jets, or BBJs, among others.

The Challenger 605 is the fourth aircraft in the 600 series which dates back to the late 1970s.  The 605 was introduced in 2006 as an upgrade to the 604.  Some new features included larger cabin windows, updated Rockwell Collins instrumentation and the capability of holding an “electronic flight bag”.   The most distinct visual feature is the rounded tailcone.

The 605 is comparable in size to the previously discussed aircraft, but is one of the fastest at 870 km/hour and a range close to 4,000 nm.

#3: Challenger 300

The Challenger 300, at first glance, can easily be confused with the Challenger 600 series which is not the case.  Unlike the 600 series, the 300 is recognized as a Bombardier (parent company of Canadair).

It entered commercial service in early 2004 and is considered a super-mid-size jet.  This basically means it’s very comparable to all the other aircraft discussed, but has greater range capability.   The 300 has a range of approximately 5,700 km and caps out at 45,000 feet.

#2: Gulfstream IV-SP (GIV-SP)

We’re back in the Gulfstream family (popular for a very good reason)! The GIV-SP is very comparable to other Gulfstream products, but represents the fine-tuning that the Savannah-based company did to improve their product line.

For instance, Honeywell advanced flight deck displays, electrical power generation, cabin temperature control and pressurization were added to this particular model.  Additionally, improved Automatic Power Unit (APU), flap system, redesigned landing gears, and other systems were improved in this particular model.

#1: Gulfstream 650 (G650)

Quite possibly my favorite Gulfstream is that of the G650.  Sleek, shiny, and the largest of the Gulfstream family, this aircraft has the ability to take you just about anywhere.  True to the company’s tagline for this aircraft, “Farther, faster, first of its kind,” the G650 more than lives up to its standard.

It has done just that with a maximum range of 7,000 miles (you read that right), and an operating speed of 0.925 Mach.  It also has the heaviest takeoff weight at almost 100,000 pounds (that’s a lot of golf clubs, or fuel).

Besides the G650 being visually stunning, the wingspan is the most noticeable at approximately 100 feet which is nearly as long as the aircraft itself.  It also features the most advanced avionics developed by Gulfstream – the PlaneView™ II flight deck.  Like the G550, it has four displays with the EVS, HUD, Synthetic Vision as well as fly-by-wire technology which is computer-controlled and highly redundant – this is advanced as the technology gets.

A Clear Winner?

While Globair.com has their favorite picks which have proven to be popular among used aircraft owners, be sure to do your research when it comes picking the business jet that works for your company.  Remember to read our tips about purchasing an aircraft – while focused on single-engine aircraft, there are some excellent tips to consider.  However, you might want to consider going to a jet broker when it comes to your business needs.

Hopefully you now have a better idea of the common business aircraft on the market – just remember to save your pennies as these sleek, used aircraft run anywhere from $6.4 to $52.9 million!

Searching for your next private jet? Click here to visit Globalair.com’s listings.

Job Hunting 101

As a new year has just begun, some of our readers might be considering a new job or a career change.  I’ve been in the process of job searching and applying as my graduation date is just around the corner and naturally I’ve been thinking about the subject a lot.  This week’s post will focus on some tips on preparing your application and for an interview.

The Application

I recently went through the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Aviation Capstone as part of finishing up my Bachelor studies and we had a few weeks of class activities surrounding the idea of career preparation.  A professor I had in class on several occasions came in as a guest lecturer and spends time outside of his classes as a counselor to individuals who are searching and applying for jobs.

One of the things he stressed the most was making sure that an application was completely filled out when applying.  Leaving blank areas can invite more questions than necessary, but could possibly put a person’s application at the bottom of the stack.  Potential employers need to know you can follow through on a task, so an application is a good place to see if you can read directions and completely fill out a form.  In the aerospace field, you’ll have to do a lot of paperwork and forms, so an application is a good place to start when evaluating a potential job candidate.

Another point he made was to be as thorough as possible when providing information.  For instance, in the airport industry you often have to go through a background check that can go back as far as five to ten years.  While this is a painstaking process, providing as much information as possible makes the process go much smoother than leaving out key details.  It can also raise some potential red flags to a future employer if they see large gaps during those time periods.

Lastly, it’s important to be entirely truthful in your responses to application questions.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but it could mean the difference from not being considered all together or getting a lot of extra questions in the interview process.

Resume and Cover Letter

I’ve always thought of the resume and cover letter as the most important part of an application.  This is mostly because a resume provides a snapshot of work history, education, skills, etc., while a cover letter gives a snapshot of why a company should consider you as a candidate.  For those reasons, it becomes crucial piece of preparation for any possible job and should be periodically reviewed to make sure information is up-to-date.

The resume is generally kept to one page.  Some professionals with many years of experience will often have two, or even three, pages for their resume while academic professionals, such as professors, will have a curriculum vitae (commonly known as a CV) as their resume.  It’s used most in the academic world, but contains greater detail than your average resume.  College graduates will often use a traditional resume style unless going into an academic position or some related type of job.

Important items to include are your personal information such as mailing address, email and phone number as well as your name.  The actual layout depends on your personal preference and generally includes the following items: an objective, educational degrees (who, what, where, and when), Grade Point Average (GPA), work history, as well as certifications held and personal interests or professional affiliations.

On my resume I have a section for my professional objective, Associate degree, Bachelor degree (clearly noted as in progress), honors level (if obtained), GPA, and then that section is followed by certifications I hold.  Currently, I have my Private Pilot’s License (PPL) for Airplane Single Engine Land (ASEL) as well as my High Performance Endorsement.  Eventually I plan to add certifications as I continue my training in airport operations and management.

The next section I have is work or related experience with jobs I have held in the last few years, particularly those I have held while at UND and in the Airport Management program.  The challenging thing about being limited to one page is that I may not be able to fit all of the jobs held prior to a certain date, however, those jobs are still related to my program.  While I may not be able to add it to my resume, it’s certainly something that can be worked into an interview when they ask about your previous experience.

Lastly, I have a section for my professional affiliations.  This section is sometimes used for hobbies and personal interests and give an idea of what a potential candidate does outside their normal workday.  For instance, for several years I was involved in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the US Air Force Auxiliary, so I list that on my resume as it was a significant period of time I spent in volunteer service.  However, I am inactive in CAP as of right now, so I am careful to delineate dates that I was actively serving in the program.  Oftentimes, applications will an applicant to list any volunteer service organizations, so I will use CAP if I come across such a question.

Lastly, cover letters should also be kept to one page and should be neat and to the point.  A good place to start is to write about your intentions (applying for “X” job) and a summary of your work experience.  It should also use key words that might have been in the job description and any pertinent information you may want to call their attention to.  An employer may spend 5 minutes or less on your entire application, so make it clean and to the point, but with a personal touch.  Addressing the specific person or organization in the header of the letter and salutation is also a nice touch.   As with the resume, I generally use a template I’ve created, but I also make sure to review each application and tailor the cover letter to fit each one.

The Interview & Social Media

After you’ve finished the application process, you may be fortunate enough to get called in for an interview – this could involve a teleconference, a videoconference (common these days), or an in-person interview.  While a potential employer may have an idea of you on paper, you only get one shot at an in-person impression.

My professor at UND always stressed being professional in every way when it comes not only to your work, but an interview.  Preparing for your interview a few weeks ahead of time will help not only to reduce stress, but make sure you are on track.  Preparing answers to possible technical questions for your particular line of work, or field, as well as scenario questions (“Tell me about a time…”) are a good way to prepare and get your head in the game.

Additionally, preparing what you will wear is also important.  Suits are always a must and a black or navy blue with neutral or toned-down ties, accessories, etc. are a good start.  Making sure that your personal grooming is taken care of a head of time when it comes to getting a haircut, or shaving that winter beard off (this is important to males when they interview at airlines).  Additionally, going easy on the cologne or perfume, or forgoing it altogether can possibly prevent triggering your interviewer(s) allergies during the actual interview.  Of course, don’t forget to shower or use deodorant – this isn’t college!

Preparing ahead of time will can go a long way to feeling more comfortable in the interview setting.  As always, don’t get too comfortable – good stress is helpful in keeping you on your toes and focused.

Lastly, think long and hard about your social media use.  It’s more of an issue for my generation because of the ability to quickly access the internet from our phones, tablets, etc.  A good rule of thumb is if your grandma would be shocked, then it’s probably something that shouldn’t be out there.  Also, comments about the work environment, coworkers, and bosses should be avoided, especially if in poor taste.  It doesn’t matter how private your settings are – someone, sooner or later, can find it.  I’m not saying social media is a no-no, I would just be careful what you put out there in general.

One other note: you might want to consider using professional sites such as LinkedIn which are often free and can be an extension of your traditional resume.  I’ve also used it to connect with those I’ve worked with or met in the industry and a way to network professionally.  I can also use it to keep track of special projects, events, etc., that I’ve been involved with over the last several years in addition to awards and certifications earned.  More and more, potential employers are using the internet to research candidates and LinkedIn is a positive way to present your past and present professional history.  I’ve also referenced it on more than one occasion when digging back into the last several years for job applications.

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully this article has been a good refresher on the job search process, but with some new twists on preparing an application.  While it’s an exciting time to be in the market looking for a job as an almost-graduate, it can also be an unnerving process.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to your college adviser, professor, or friends and family when preparing.

Best wishes to all those in the job market!

Winter Weather Flying

As I sit here in Grand Forks, ND, blanketed under over a foot of snow, I think about aviation in the winter, especially at UND.  As a tour guide at UND Aerospace, I think the question I am asked most often this time of year is: do you fly when it’s cold out?  The answer: Yes!  This week’s blog is going to focus on winter flying and a few of my tips to enjoy flying despite the cold.

#1: Plan Your Airports Carefully

During the rest of the year, sans snow, we get pretty comfortable flying into just about any airport.  However, with winter and the cold temperatures it brings, it is important to consider which airports will be the safest.  For instance, metropolitan airports usually have more tenants, more resources, etc., which means if there is snow, they are more likely to get plowed sooner.

In the same way, airports that are more remote and do not have regular services like hangars, deicing, and plug-ins for your engine, should be carefully considered.  UND, for instance, actually has a list of airports that are considered off-limits during the winter because of their location, lack of services, and runway length.  UND recognizes that students may have weather come up quickly during a long cross-country flight and it is important to make sure students are not flying anywhere too remote without a safe place to be.

Planning for airports with consistent snow removal, fuel services, heated hangars and deicing options is one way to make your winter flying more enjoyable and safe.

#2: Carry a Winter Survival Kit

You probably think that could never happen to me (a hazardous attitude, by the way) – finding yourself stuck in a field somewhere, or making an unplanned departure from the runway with no choice but to wait for hours for help to come.  It may seem like extra stuff to carry, but a winter survival kit could be the difference between freezing to death, and well, not freezing to death.

Some things to carry in that kit: extra socks, extra food, water, flashlight and batteries, heat packs (they are so nifty and fit into your gloves and boots), winter boots, an extra jacket, flares, and anything else you might need.  At UND, once the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, students are required to bring jacket, hat, gloves, and boots on every flight.  Now, the aircraft at UND have their own survival kits, but it can’t hurt to carry your own.  The items I mentioned are pretty lightweight and should not affect your weight and balance too much.  However, if weight and balance is your excuse for not bringing a kit on your cross-country, you have bigger issues.  Plus, if you’re not at UND, you should have your own kit anyways.

#3: Watch the Weather

This may seem like a “duh” tip, but seriously, how many times have we gone flying and seen some weather front move faster than predicted?  During the winter, this is even more important as a sudden drop in temperatures can cool off your aircraft way too fast and make it more difficult to start.  It can also mean that airports might close early due a lack to traffic (especially at non-towered airports) or the line crew goes home early.

More importantly, large winter storms, or even blizzards, can dump lots of snow when you least expect.  Checking the weather often before a winter flight is important to making sure you avoid any potential hazards.  If you are on the fence after looking at a forecast, either get a second opinion, or just don’t go.  Putting yourself in a position where you’re not entirely comfortable with the forecast is just as dangerous.

Organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.noaa.gov) have great resources for forecasting as well as weather reports for airports.  Of course, local TAFs and METARs should be used as well when you’re planning your winter flights.  Additionally, don’t forget to check the airports NOTAMs and the new system of field condition reporting, Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM).  The RCAM is a new way of giving field condition report which started being used as of October 1st.  There will still be Field Condition Reports (FICONs) issued along with the RCAM, but I would expect the FICON to go away after the 2016-2017 winter season.  The FAA has a great Advisory Circular on RCAM here.

Stay Warm!

Hopefully you’re still excited about winter flying this year – that wonderful, clear air is the best to fly in and the views are spectacular.  Just be sure to give the above tips in mind and you’ll be all set to enjoy flying all through the winter.

Have a winter flying tip?  Leave a comment with your winter flying advice!

An Introduction to Airport Insurance

Insurance can be defined as “peace of mind” (Wild, 2016).  It protects an insured against a loss on their investment, whether this be a car, house, an aircraft, or even an airport.  However, insurance does not just exist to protect assets or people – it can be argued that insurance offers social values as well.  These social values integrate into our economy in a variety of ways including security for personal and business situations, a basis of credit for businesses, aid in the development of the economy, reduction of costs, and protection that is affordable to the insured (Wells & Chadbourne, 2007).

While insurance may be required for such assets such as automobiles, airports are not technically required to hold insurance coverage.   The following section will discuss the legal requirements for airport insurance.

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Airport Insurance Coverage Requirements

It is important to point out that while an airport is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to have insurance, the legal ramifications if an airport does not possess coverage are severe.  The sheer cost of a slip-and-fall a passenger might experience on a premises including the medical bills, lawsuits, etc., are more than enough to convince an airport to purchase a variety of coverages for their premises.  Slip-and-falls are not the only risk – the possibility of fuel spills, vehicle accidents, equipment malfunctions, aircraft accidents, and more are enough to lose many nights of sleep over.

When examining the rules and regulations put forth by the FAA, there is not specific wording that requires insurance for airports.  However, airports that are planning to apply for federal aid through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) would be remiss not to have insurance already on their premises.  AIP money is usually given attached to several conditions precedent such as having a variety of insurance coverages.

Liability when an accident or incident occurs in addition to the possibility of losing federal grants are strong points when discussing why an airport should carry insurance.  The types of coverage an airport can purchase are discussed in the next section.

Airport Coverage Types

Unfortunately, unlike automobile insurance, airports do not have a “one size fits all” type of coverage such as Full Coverage.  Airports, by nature, offer a variety of services depending on the classification of the airport.  If an airport is classified as Part 139, an airport offering scheduled commercial service, the coverage would range from aircraft operations on the field, fueling, to coverage for slips-and-falls.

One type of coverage an airport can purchase is that of Airport Premises Liability (APL).  The purpose of this coverage is to protect the owner (or operator) of the airport from loss due to liability from the maintenance or use of the airport, operations at or away from the airport, elevators, and escalators (Wells & Chadbourne, 2007).  According to Wells and Chadbourne (2007), this particular coverage includes all of the ordinary hazards on the premises including those caused by aircraft, except: “1) aircraft owned by, hired or loaned to the insured; (2) aircraft in flight by or for the account of the insured; and (3) air meets, contests or exhibitions” (p. 190).  APL can be seen as a general liability coverage for an airport – there are other more specific types of an APL depending on the size of the airport.

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A recent incident at KMSP.  I wonder who will pay more; the airport or LSG Sky Chefs?

The APL generally uses one of the two basic liability forms: owners’, landlords’, and tenants’ (OL&T) or comprehensive general liability (CGL).  OL&T is considered the more restrictive of the two and is not used as often in the industry.  Smaller airports, small and medium sized Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) and concessionaires usually purchase this type of APL.  Besides OL&T, the more commonly used APL is that of CGL.  CGL is more inclusive that OL&T because it covers new exposures that may have been acquired after the policy’s inception.  Because it has a feature providing coverage for “unknown hazards”, it is distinguishable from OL&T and it is the most complete airport liability policy on the market.  CGL itself covers product and completed operations liabilities, coverage for independent contractors for construction and demolition, liability coverage for contracts, liability coverage for personnel and advertising, and hangarkeepers’ liability – these will be discussed in the next section.

CGL Coverage

In CGL, each section of coverage covers a variety of operations at an airport, FBO, or concessionaire.  Product and completed operations liabilities can be defined in two aspects.  Completed operations cover aircraft repairs and services, which includes the installation of parts or accessories.  Product liability covers the insured for liability that would result from an injury to consumers of a defective products or from completed operations.

Coverage for independent contractors for construction and demolition covers extension of runways, building new runways, demolition or alteration of existing structures, new hangars, buildings for administration, or maintenance shops.  An underwriter will require information on the duration and extent of operations contracted as well as costs of the contract.

Contracts liability coverage is probably the most diverse type of coverage under CGL as any given FBO, concessionaire, or airport might hold a variety of contracts for services.  Because of wide range contracts for gasoline, oil, fuel, etc., companies generally will not offer a blanket coverage and instead will only approve contracts specifically designated by the company.

The next type of coverage under CGL is that of liability coverage for personnel and advertising.  Personnel injury liability protects against claims including intentional torts – this covers false arrest, detention, malicious prosecution, libel etc.  In the past, this coverage was only available to major airports, but is now a part of the CGL form, or under the OL&T form with endorsement.  Injury from advertising liability covers offenses from slander or libel for a person or organization in oral or written publication – this includes coverage for products or services or the violation of the right to privacy.  Additionally, it protects from misappropriation of advertising ideas, style, or infringement of copyrights, titles, or slogans.

Lastly, hangarkeepers’ liability protects airport owners and operators, FBOs or maintenance and repair facilities.  This coverage, in essence, a form of bailee insurance.  It covers liability from loss or damage to an aircraft held by others, or in custody of the insured for safekeeping, storage, repairs, or while on the premises of the property of airport owners, FBOs, etc.  It is important to note that the basic coverage of hangarkeepers’ liability does not cover the aircraft in flight.  This can, however, be added to a policy through an endorsement.

Now that the most common coverages under CGL have been discussed, the author will discuss different companies that offer airport insurance.

Specialty Insurance Companies

As airport services is a complex field, there are a few companies that specialize in offering coverage for them.  Two companies will be discussed: United Sates Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG) and Aviation Specialty Insurance.

USAIG is company that is actually a pool of member firms (an example of spreading the risk).  It has received high ratings over the last several years and has been using the pool arrangement for the industry since 1928.  One of its coverages offered is that of Airport Liability which extends coverage for private and FBOs.  The coverage they offer includes premises, products/completed operations, contractual, personal injury, premises medical payments, and hangarkeepers’ liability – these are essentially all of the coverages under a CGL.  Additionally, if a client wants endorsements, the company will offer this on a case-by-case basis.

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Aviation Specialty Insurance (ASI) is a company that has over 80 years to combined experience to offer its customers.  Their coverage ranges from airports to drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).  ASI offers much of the same airport coverage as USAIG, but with some unique additions.  Workers Compensation, Fuel and Fuel Farm/Truck, Pollution, and Rental Car Coverage are just some of the things they offer that USAIG does not.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

In closing, airport insurance is a complex subject.  When examining liability, there are many liabilities an airport should consider when looking at insurance policies. While this post only covered a few aspects through CGL, there are several other coverages an airport or FBO can add depending on their organization.  Insurance is very scalable which allows for each organization to find the best fit.  Additionally, there are several companies that offer CGL including several specialty endorsements to fit each airport or FBO.  Overall, airport insurance is a complex subject, however, the consequences are far greater than if an airport did not take the time to properly insure its premises.

References

Airport Liability. (2016). USAIG: United Sates Aircraft Insurance Group. Retrieved 21 November 2016, from https://www.usau.com/caf_coverages_airport_liability.php

Airports | Aviation Specialty Insurance. (2016). Aviationspecialtyinsurance.com. Retrieved 21 November 2016, from http://www.aviationspecialtyinsurance.com/airport-insurance/

Images retrieved from http://www.Google.com on 28 November, 2016.

Introduction to Aviation Insurance and Risk Management. (2007) (3rd ed., pp. 189-201). Malabar.

Introduction to Aviation Insurance and Risk Management. (2007) (3rd ed., pp. 68-69). Malabar.

Wild, Brandon, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Aviation Insurance, Lecture, Fall 2016.