Companies’ longer safety records prompt NBAA to raise its bar
50-year award honorees
Fifty years ago, Ardenbrook, a private real estate investment company with operations mainly in five Western states, operated an Aero Grand Commander and today it flies a Cessna Citation SP 501. CEO William Matthew Brooks and chief pilot Alan Cirino are both aviation enthusiasts and aviation record holders. Last November, the two set a transcontinental speed and longest distance world record in the Williams FJ442A-powered Citation I/SP, and a fastest speed over a 1,000-km and 2,000-km track. Brooks had previously set a world record for fastest speed around the world, westbound, plus 55 other records, in the same airplane.
Cirino joined Ardenbrook in 1991 after he retired from United Airlines as an Airbus A319/320 captain. Before then he was a U.S. Air Force colonel, last serving as vice commander of the 3rd Air Division (B-52, KC 135) at Hickam AFB in Hawaii.
Also serving as safety/quality-control coordinator at Ardenbrook, he attributes the company’s good record to “strong support from corporate leadership for an active safety program emphasizing safety awareness and strict adherence to detail and standard operating procedures for all flight activity, complemented by regular refresher training at top-rated flight training schools.”
No one needs an introduction to Kimberly-Clark and its products, but how many people know that the company’s flight department started in 1948 with a Twin Beech D-18? The company has since flown many types of aircraft, including the Douglas DC-3, Beech Twin Bonanza, Queen Air, King Air and Hawker; Fairchild F-27; Lockheed JetStar, Dassault Falcon 20; Cessna Citation, IAI Westwind and Bombardier Challenger.
Kimberly-Clark now flies a Gulfstream V and two Challengers from three aviation bases, with 13 pilots, four mechanics, one scheduler and two support personnel.
Steven Knabe, who was promoted to chief pilot six months ago, started working for Kimberly-Clark in 1994. He had become interested in aviation watching “the aircraft flying over our farm in Nebraska and wondering how the view would be from 41,000 feet.” He was also fascinated by the military jets that flew past the farm during low-level training exercises.
He trained at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Okla., and instructed there after finishing the program. He joined Conoco Oil, flying as first officer on the GI, GII, GIII and Hawkers. “I have been fortunate to work with two Fortune 500 companies and have learned a great deal from both experiences,” he told NBAA Convention News. He served on Spartan’s advisory board for four years, and said, “This has given me the opportunity to see the growth of the flight school and to stay in touch with the next generation of aviation professionals.”
He said that he has enjoyed aspects of all the corporate aircraft he has flown but added, “My favorite would be what I am currently flying, the GV. It is a pilot’s airplane, with capability, flexibility and power to get the missions done.
“Kimberly-Clark is a great company to work for,” he continued, “and it has an excellent team of dedicated professionals working in the aviation department. We have an extremely low turnover rate, with many team members having more than 20 years with the company.”
The basis for safety is an inherent part of Kimberly-Clark and is the company’s number-one goal, he continued. “Our department has been supported by the board of directors and upper-level management in providing the resources to run a great flight department. The aviation department teams with K-C’s global security department to analyze and mitigate risks on international and domestic flights.
“Training and maintenance are never shortchanged and the airplanes are maintained meticulously. I give thanks and credit to all those who have worked in air transportation who contributed to the first 50 years, and the team we currently have assembled working on the next 50 years. Safety is no accident and requires everyone’s attention to detail.”
Special Services is a Part 91/Part 135 operation based at Greenville Municipal Airport in South Carolina. It manages three Cessna Citations, which are used in charter operations when the owners are not operating them. The company employs seven pilots and 13 support personnel.
Eric Groves, the company’s COO, said that the secret of Special Services’ long safety record is “thoroughly maintaining and holding to standard operating procedures.” He added, “Safety is the key to our whole operation.”
Groves, who has been with Special Services for six years, said his favorite airplane to fly is the Citation Encore. He always wanted to fly, but was never in an airplane until he took his first flying lesson at 18. He worked for J&A Properties as chief pilot for seven years before joining Special Services.
60-year award honorees
Crow Executive Air has operated since 1947 under family ownership, and reached its 60-year mark with Eric Barnum as president and CEO. He told NBAA Convention News, “Crow Executive Air continues its relentless dedication to training, maintenance and a culture of attention to detail, to again enjoy another perfect year of safe flying. Since its inception, operating piston-engine aircraft, both land and sea, through to today’s complex turbine aircraft, the safety of its clients and employees has been Crow’s guiding principle.”
Referring to management opportunities with aircraft owners, he continued: “We lead with our NBAA 60-year Safety Award and we appreciate the recognition of our efforts. We are a small operator compared with some of the large management companies, and it is encouraging to be recognized by a group of our peers in a category that is so vital to our clients, customers and employees.”
Crow is also among the five Commercial (Part 135) Safe Flying Award recipients this year.
Having operated every Learjet model up to the Learjet 35A, the company currently operates three 35As, plus a Beech King Air B100, with 10 full-time pilots and a support staff of four at Toledo’s Metcalf Field.
Starting out with Beech 18s, Cessna 195s and A26 Monarchs (converted World War II Douglas Invaders), Koch has moved to its current fleet of a Bombardier Learjet 45XR, Gulfstream G150, Dassault Falcon 50 and 2000 and a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350. The flight department consists of 48 employees, including 31 pilots, at two bases: Wichita and Atlanta.
K.C. Carlson, director of aviation, has been with the company for 16 years, eight in his current position. His favorite corporate airplane to fly, he said, is the Falcon 50.
During the Vietnam War, he joined the U.S. Air Force and flew F/RF-4s and F-16s.
After leaving the military, he served in the Kansas Air National Guard in Wichita.
He attributed the company’s long safety record to “outstanding personnel who daily apply Koch’s market-based management philosophy with strong company focus on environmental health and safety operations excellence.”
Koch Industries, with 80,000 employees, is the largest private company in America, involved in refining and chemicals, process and pollution control equipment and technologies, minerals and fertilizers, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading and services, and forest and consumer products.
Murphy Oil, which also is on the top-five Corporate Operators list, reached the 60-year safe-flying mark at the end of 2006. Based in El Dorado, Ark., it has worldwide oil and gas operations. It produces oil and natural gas in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Malaysia and Ecuador, and has an interest in a synthetic oil operation in Canada. It also operates two petroleum refineries in the U.S. and one in the UK. Murphy also about 1,000 gas stations at Wal-Marts in the U.S.
Starting out with Lockheed Lodestars and Beech 18s, the El Dorado flight department moved to jets in 1965 and today, with William Allen as chief pilot, flies a Cessna Citation Excel and a Dassault Falcon 2000. The senior employee in the aviation department is Donnie Clark, a 35-year veteran of the maintenance department. Murphy Aviation employs seven pilots, including Allen, and two other full-time maintenance technicians.
Allen attributed the company’s exemplary safety record to “a combination of things.” He particularly stressed the importance of regularly scheduled training at FlightSafety International and CAE SimuFlite, for the maintenance personnel as well as pilots.
Allen pointed out that it’s not just the present staff that is responsible for that record, saying, “the credit also belongs to those pilot and maintenance personnel who have been a part of Murphy Aviation for many years past. The safety precautions that have been a part of Murphy for these many years will continue for many more.”
The original H.B. Zachry Co. was founded in 1924. It is now divided into two companies, Zachry Industrial and Zachry Construction, run by the grandsons of the founder, Henry Bartell Zachry. Zachry Industrial designs, engineers and constructs powerplants, process plants and refineries and performs industrial maintenance.
The flight department started in 1947 with a new Beech Bonanza and over the years has operated a Twin Beech, Twin Bonanza, Queen Air, King Air, Learjet, a Bell helicopter and various Cessna Citations. At one time it operated an A26 bomber modified for passengers. Zachry now flies a Citation Sovereign, a Citation Excel and a King Air 200. The flight department currently has eight pilots, two maintenance technicians, one line service tech and a scheduler/dispatcher.
Shaw, who has been with the company for 36 years, said, “I am very fortunate to have been able to fly such a wide variety of aircraft with the same company. They were all great to fly.” Shaw’s father was a pilot in World War II and started a flying business in central Texas after the war. He taught his son to fly, and the younger Shaw became a flight instructor and charter pilot for the company, and then worked as chief pilot of a Fort Worth flight school before joining Zachry.
“The company’s long-term success can be attributed to two things,” said Shaw. “The many people who work in the aviation department now and the ones who have gone before, who have laid down and maintain a culture of safety. And it would simply not be possible to have 60 years of success without the Zachry family, and companies, providing the necessary support and commitment to continue the efficient use of corporate aircraft.”