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Training Offered on Risk-Assessment Tools, SMS

NBAA will offer extensive training on using risk-assessment tools within safety management systems (SMS) at the 2013 Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Conference next January. The Association plans to double the number of sessions in the Conference Training Initiative program, inaugurated in 2012, from six to 12, explained Jo Damato, NBAA’s director, educational development & strategy.

“We tried something new at the 2012 S&D Conference that was hugely successful: We offered training acknowledgments to those who met attendance and knowledge requirements for as many as six International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) and safety management systems-related sessions,” Damato explained, “and we are building on that success for expanded training at the 2013 conference.”

Within the 12 sessions, the planners are doubling the package themes and providing eight sessions focused on SMS and the use of risk-assessment tools. The other four will cover tax topics. Damato said NBAA hopes to gain approval before the conference to count the two new conference training initiatives toward earned points for the Certified Aviation Manager program. “We’re trying to create an opportunity for each session to stand alone for people who want to focus on specific elements of the topic,” she added.

S&D Conference chair Karen Steinkamp, a Kansas City-based scheduler, encourages Attendees to approach the expanded sessions as an opportunity to raise the bar on their operations’ safety practices and recognize how SMS has an important role in their daily flight operations. The slate of seminars also includes a session dedicated specifically to how risk assessments fit within international requirements to comply with the IS-BAO training requirements.

Steinkamp noted, “The purpose of an SMS is to minimize the possibility of injury to people or damage to aircraft. And throwing risk-assessment training into the scheduler’s function happens because so often they’re the go-to person for many circumstances.”

For example, consider those inevitable instances in which the crew is getting pushback from a passenger on some issue related to a flight – say, the decision to use a specific airport over another airport that may be closer to the passenger’s destination.

“Knowing risk-assessment tools can help you explain the choice to the passenger – or, in other cases, emphasize why a flight is not going to happen today,” Steinkamp said.

More Information

The Schedulers & Dispatchers Scholarships deadline is September 28. Apply now at

Is In-House International Trip Handling the Way to Go?

Scott Rapacki describes a typical booking to handle a client’s international trip this way: “The only thing constant is change, we say around here.” For international trip handlers like Houston-based International Trip Planning Services, LLC, managing change is the ultimate challenge to making clients’ trips work.

“Small changes can create considerable hassles at the other end,” noted Rapacki. Changes may affect permits, slots, fueling arrangements, customs clearances, entry permits and visas.

“When changes occur, knowing exactly who to call is vital,” Rapacki explained. “It’s easier for operators who visit places frequently, or for trip facilitators who may be handling dozens of trips a week into a given spot.”

Handling international trip planning with in-house staff can be attractive for several reasons: cost, security, perceived control. But it takes only one problem needing specialized expertise to erase any expected savings – possibly raising the cost for a solution beyond the fees of a professional trip planning service.

Rapacki suggested operators first consider the variety of inter-departmental details that need handling before deciding to bring international trip handling in-house with little to no third party support.

Consider, for example, national regulations. Some countries require permits to over-fly or land, or take off – or only to fly over. There’s the challenge: The planner needs to know the requirements, customs and local issues of each nation on the itinerary.

National laws vary on international currency issues, which begs the question on whether to use cash or retain a local agent to pay handling, fuel and airport fees.

On the ground, arranging transportation to meetings and hotels is important, along with staff security and what times of day services are available. The details are many, usually varied and often complex.

“You need to know what the process is like when the plane lands so the crew can know how to brief their passengers,” Rapacki noted.

Five Fundamentals for International Trip Planning

  1. 1Know and understand the countries and their permit requirements, prior-permissions rules and for how long those permissions are valid;
  2. Know whether the airport requires prior permission, or possibly a slot, and how long permits are effective;
  3. Know what fuelers can refuel on which ramps, since fuel is often sold separately from the FBO;
  4. Know the entry process before you land, and the exit routine before boarding;
  5. Have after-hours phone numbers for your agents/representatives on the ground at every destination.

How to Plan for Fees Abroad

When is a tax not a tax, but a fee? In which countries are special fees assessed? And how can a flight department plan for managing those expenses unrelated to their actual flight operations?

“Taxes and fees depend on what you’re considering a tax,” explained Ann Widay, an aviation analyst with Qualcomm in San Diego. “The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) is not a tax if you ask the Europeans. But ETS still costs companies like ours significant money every year, first to buy the carbon offsets, plus more to manage and account for the flights and file paperwork. It’s a ‘fee’ that feels like a ‘tax.’”

Schedulers and dispatchers can plan for taxes and fees, with some levied on a per-flight basis while others occur only annually – and some applying even without having landed in a country. “Mexico, for example, levies an air-traffic fee, and it’s collected at the time of fuel purchase – but... it’s not a fuel tax,” she explained. “If you only over-fly Mexico, they track you, record your flight – and they’ll collect it retroactively, say when you land there years later.”

Being aware of possible taxes and fees is just the first step. It’s important to have current information on any possible charges. “Staying educated is crucial,” Widay emphasized. “You have to stay up-to-date at all times because these things can change almost overnight.”

More Information

Attend the 2013 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference to learn more about the topics covered in this installment of Dispatch. Visit for additional information.

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