This week, our company completed validation flights with the FAA to add a 30-seat Jetstream J41 to our fleet of charter aircraft. We have been working on adding this aircraft type to our fleet for over a year now.
Typically, it does not take us that long to add an aircraft; but, this one was different. When you operate aircraft with over 19 passenger seats, the FAA requires that you have flight attendants and all of their programs, including flight attendant training manuals and flight attendant operations manuals that describe how we will operate this aircraft with a third crew member. What seemed to be a simple process, in reality, turned out to be pretty in-depth and complicated process.
On Tuesday, I got to ride along as a passenger on a day’s worth of flights where we proved to the FAA that we can safely and effectively operate a three crew aircraft.
All day long, on every flight leg there were simulated emergencies, sometimes multiple issues at a time, which tested our people on how we would handle it if it really happened.
We had simulated in-flight fires, babies who stopped breathing, unruly passengers who tried to light up a smoke in the lav, and a brake failure that resulted in running off the runway and into a body of water. With the exception of the unruly passengers, I expect and hope the rest of the simulations never happen in real life; but, it is good to know that we rehearse and have a procedure for each of these events.
When the US Air flight went into the Hudson River, the pilots and flight attendants handled it professionally and efficiently and everyone on board survived it. Had they not trained on these type scenarios, the outcome could have been totally different.
I have a new found respect for what goes on behind the scenes with training flight attendants for the emergencies that most of us will never see. Day in and day out, flight attendants for the airlines and charter companies perform cabin service and give the passenger briefings that too many people ignore. What we will never see as regular passengers is the training done to prepare the crew for all types of emergencies.
We try consciously to avoid making Plane Conversations an advertising site for our company in the spirit of promoting our industry; however, in this case, I will brag on our group of pilots and new group of flight attendants who performed in an excellent manner. They had a group of FAA inspectors looking over their shoulders for several days, and in some cases also playing the part of the “unruly passengers.” The pressure was applied to our people and they handled it and passed the test.
Reaching this level of operations for a charter company is a major accomplishment and I am proud of our people. I have said it before – I am privileged to work with the best pilots, dispatch group, maintenance personnel, management team and now flight attendants that anyone could ask for.
The aircraft we will be flying is a 30-seat British Aerospace Jetstream J41. It cruises at close to 300 knots and operates much more efficiently than regional jets. With this aircraft we will be able to service clients who need to move groups of people between cities where airline service can’t do it in a timely manner.
With the cost effectiveness of the aircraft we can, in many cases, beat the fares of the airlines and still offer the convenience of charter.
As the airlines consolidate, I predict you will see more and more operators around the country offering charter service to groups of people moving between city pairs that don’t have good service.
The 30-seat turboprop is ideally positioned to meet this unmet demand. It is alive and well!