Safety in the Skies
by Adam Fallwell
The Wright Brothers first took to the skies 115 years ago, and since then the world has watched aviation grow exponentially into the massive worldwide network we see today. From general travel, to business, and commercial use, aviation now connects our world together in ways that would never have been imaginable – or possible – without the invention of the airplane.
From the outside, it is easy to look at these amazing flying machines and admire their beauty and sophistication without considering how much time and effort has gone in to ensuring the safety of the aircraft, its passengers and its crews. At AirSprint, safety comes first. It is one of our six core values and the safety of our fractional owners is always the number one consideration in our flight operations. Fractional aviation in general has one of the best safety records in the entire aviation sector.
AirSprint is no exception to this rule with a large number of safety initiatives to help ensure a safe and efficient operation for our fractional owners, our pilots, and everyone else involved with AirSprint. Aviation safety starts with a well-trained crew and AirSprint has always taken its training very seriously. We go well above the minimum training requirements set out by the industry for our type of operation, and through our rigid hiring process and initial training program, ensure we are getting the best of the best when it comes to your flight crews.
Pilots are selected for interviews based on their previous flying experience, attitude, ambition and, more often than not, through internal references of someone we trust. After accepting a position with AirSprint, the new hire will undergo an intensive two week in-house training course covering Company Indoctrination, Standard Operating Procedures, Crew Resource Management, and Cockpit Procedure Training, just to name a few. The two weeks of in-house training allows AirSprint to ensure a pilot is meeting our high standard before sending them away to simulator training with FlightSafety International.
Simulator training is a 17 – 23 day course depending on the aircraft type. At Flightsafety, the pilots are trained in every aspect of the aircraft. From systems and avionics, to weight and balance and aircraft performance, all areas are covered in the ground school portion of the course and concluded with a written examination. The simulators are full motion and replicate the exact flying characteristics of the aircraft type the crew is training on.
“At AirSprint, safety comes first. It is one of our six core values and the safety of our fractional owners is always the number one consideration in our flight operations.”
The simulator allows the crews to train in all normal and emergency procedures and learn the flight characteristics while in a safe environment. The crews run emergency checklists until the procedures become second nature and training line orientated flight scenarios where smoothness and comfort for our owners can be developed and perfected.
Once the crew reaches a minimum simulator training time and our expected level of performance, they will complete a flight test conducted by a Transport Canada representative. Upon successful completion of the flight test, the pilot may now proceed to flight operations under supervision of a Training Captain. Line indoctrination is what we call this portion of the pilots training. During this time the pilot will act as a crew member under supervision of the Training Captain. Once the required number of training hours are complete and the pilot is meeting AirSprint’s level of performance, we will release the crew member as a full fledged First Officer or Captain.
AirSprint uses very detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which standardizes everything – from normal callouts (such as heading or altitude changes), to complex route revisions and flight profiles to be followed during an emergency. We require our pilots to be exceptionally fluent in our SOPs, and pilot performance is regularly reviewed through annual recurrent simulator training, line checks, and performance reviews.
AirSprint is proud to have a modern fleet of aircraft with all the conveniences of the latest safety technology. Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) monitor all aircraft in our vicinity and will give aural and visual cues to follow should another aircraft get a little too close and separation needs to be provided. The Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (EGPWS) is monitoring all the terrain around the aircraft as well as aircraft performance and the expected flight path. The system will alert the crew through visual and aural alerts should terrain clearance or aircraft performance become insufficient. Both the TCAS and EGPWS systems are designed to give the crew members adequate time to correct any issues prior to safety becoming compromised.
Such situations which might impact safety are extremely rare, but it’s always nice to know that the additional safety measures are built in and available to ensure everyone’s safety should they be needed.
“Having these systems means we can operate in the best airspace while conducting the best available approaches and getting you to your destinations more often than lesser equipped aircraft.”
All of AirSprint’s aircraft are equipped with the latest avionics and GPS systems allowing for precision route tracking and approach capabilities. Having these systems means we can operate in the best airspace while conducting the best available approaches and getting you to your destinations more often than lesser equipped aircraft. Our avionics allow for maximum situational awareness and have multiple glass, or computer screen, displays. The information available to our crews through the avionics has come a long way in the last 20 years.
Our current aircraft have graphical XM weather feeds provided by satellite sources, advanced real time weather radar, WIFI, high resolution terrain mapping, and many other safety features that make today’s business jets the safest form of air transportation available. Additionally, our Embraer Legacy 450 aircraft, being the most technologically advanced aircraft of their category, incorporate advanced Fly By Wire systems.
These systems ensure the airplane is always operated within a safe protection envelope while ensuring a smooth and gentle ride for our fractional owners. Fly By Wire is quickly becoming the future and reality of the business aviation and airline world.
“When you consider our pilot training, advanced aircraft, rigid maintenance schedules, and adherence to regulations, it is easy to see why AirSprint has always been a leader in aviation safety. When I came to AirSprint 11 years ago I was incredibly impressed with just how serious safety was taken in our operation. It made me exceptionally proud to be associated with a company that never cut corners, always put safety first, and never ignored a safety concern that was brought up by a staff member.
Throughout the years I have only seen safety increase with a refined Safety Management System and newer, more advanced training and aircraft. I am proud to be a part of the development and progression of our flight department and look forward to seeing AirSprint continue to provide the safest and most comfortable form of travel available to our fractional owners, their friends and family.”
Director of Flight Operations
Image Credits © 2018 Adam Fallwell. Legacy 450 @ Kelowna International Airport (CYLW); AirSprint Private Aviation Hangar @ (CYYC)