A Pilot’s Role in Prioritizing Safety
Industry Requirements vs. NetJets Standards
It’s one thing to meet safety requirements set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It’s another to establish what the standard should be—and then surpass it. Our unwavering dedication to safety begins with our pilots. The way in which we select and train our new pilots, all while promoting a culture of safety, has proven unique in the industry. Here is a look at where the industry has set the bar regarding pilots and safety—and how NetJets continually surpasses expectations.
Mindy Drummond, Executive Vice President, Employee and Owner Experience“Everything we do at NetJets is built upon the foundation of safety. It is our first and highest priority, and each and every employee at NetJets is aligned to this.”
Attracting Best-in-Class AviatorsWe are proud to say that in most pilots’ careers, we are the final stop. Pilots who are early in their career accrue hours flying turbo props or older jets with smaller companies so they can one day work with us. That’s why we can say with confidence that the NetJets fleet is commanded by the most experienced and highly trained professionals in the private aviation industry.
Pilots currently flying with NetJets average 10,500 hours—which equates to seven times the industry standard in pilots’ flight experience. And although most of our pilots could confidently command any aircraft in the NetJets fleet, we require that they have the focused expertise acquired from flying only one aircraft type. This means that without a doubt, no one knows that aircraft better than the crewmembers assigned to it.
Industry-Leading Recurring TrainingNo matter the amount of experience, all newly hired pilots participate in NetJets’ mandatory training at FlightSafety International®, the world’s preeminent flight training provider. Our pilots’ skills are meticulously honed in state-of-the-art simulators. This tests the pilots’ knowledge and their reactions to real-world flight scenarios that are often based on information obtained from NetJets’ in-flight data recorders. Annually, we invest more than $80 million in crewmember training. This investment is unmatched across the aviation industry and is more than some private aviation companies spend on pilots’ salaries. But with safety as our first and highest priority, it’s an investment we believe is beyond worth it.
Industry-Leading Safety Management SystemAlthough there are no regulatory safety requirements in the private, charter, or fractional aviation sectors, NetJets has set the standard by being the first private aviation company to reach the highest level of the FAA Safety Management System (SMS) initiative. Our SMS is a formal, organization-wide approach that leverages proven procedures, practices, and policies to proactively manage safety risk.
Flight Operations Quality AssuranceOne example within a variety of programs is Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA). This routine downloading and analyzing of flight data provides a set of eyes—and opportunities for improvement—where there are normally blind spots. In fact, the in-flight data captured allows for the creation of custom procedures within operations, with the goal of perfecting flight tracks for maneuvering over and around challenging terrain. For example, there is a runway in Truckee, California, that is shrouded by rising terrain, making a stable approach difficult. Using FOQA data, we identified the challenge and, partnering with FlightSafety International, developed and flight-tested a precise flight path to the runway. It is flown by the aircraft automation, which ensures safety margins are protected while delivering a more consistent level of service.
Although not required for aircraft with nine or fewer seats, a flight data recorder is essential to establishing a FOQA program. Beginning in 2013, NetJets made an investment in safety by requiring installation on all new deliveries. Meanwhile, we have also incorporated a science-based biomathematical modeling tool for monitoring alertness levels. The model predicts and removes crewmembers who may be approaching a lower alertness level. Every 30 minutes, the entire flight schedule is analyzed, and when the threshold for removal is triggered, the crewmember is assigned to a rest period and replaced.
Fostering a Culture Steeped in SafetyAs a company, NetJets promotes a culture of safety that permeates every decision made. While other companies deduct from a pilot’s salary when a flight is declined (because of distraction or unpredictable fatigue, illness, or family emergencies), we do not. Instead, we empower our pilots to make decisions based on the safety of our Owners and crewmembers. This takes the form of a nonpunitive program that allows NetJets pilots to refrain from flying if not fit for flight. NetJets also implements a unique protocol called Dual-Release Dispatch. Before every departure, a mutual agreement between a licensed dispatcher and a pilot is required. This formality exceeds standard practice and empowers our crew to provide an extra level of safety to every flight.
“Our pilots log many hours elsewhere before joining our team. Because NetJets is the pinnacle of most aviators’ careers, we can confidently say that we hire only the most experienced crewmembers in the industry.”Alan Bobo, Executive Vice President, Flight Operations
NetJets is relentless in our commitment to being one of the safest private jet companies in the world. That’s why we go to great lengths to meet—and exceed—the highest standards of safety in practice today. The pilots we employ, the investments in crewmember training, and the safety culture that exists at the heart of everything we do are just some of the examples of how we improve safety for not only NetJets but for all those in the industry.
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