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Flight Department Best Practices: What You Need to Know

Steps To Ensure Flight Operations Perform At Their Best

Flight Department Best Practices: What You Need to Know

Flight Department Best Practices

According to the Flight Safety Foundation, a significant aircraft incident will cost an organization at least $225,000 and may have larger consequences regardless of the type of operation. FAR Part 135 regulations are far more restrictive than Part 91, leaving Flight Departments without a regulatory framework for their operations. With passenger safety in mind, Part 91 Flight Departments should assess their operations and determine if additional policies and procedures are necessary. 


A Flight Department Best Practices Assessment can identify areas of improvement within the operation and provide the operator with a foundation for process improvements, a sound safety culture and safer operations. All the components of operations, such as scheduling, flight operations, and aircraft maintenance can be included. ARGUS International is proud to offer Flight Department Best Practice Assessments for Part 91 operators to improve their operations.


Build a Safety Minded Culture
A commitment to aviation safety should be built into the culture of an organization and requires the commitment of Flight Department leaders. For a supportive safety culture, Flight Department leaders need to have a clear understanding of their operation and the inherent risks facing the team. This knowledge gives leadership the opportunity to set the right policies and tone for their culture.


The staff needs to understand that safety is expected from the top down. Accidents should be seen as preventable, regardless of the operations. Safe work habits must be practiced on the job. It is important to outline clear expectations to define accountability to all staff. Developing a system of data measurement to evaluate staff success, including a metric for valuing safety, is essential.

Accurately Measure Safety Performance
Safety procedures are only useful if they are used consistently. A good way to start is with clear, easily understood processes that are followed constantly. The Flight Department must create a system for tracking employee compliance, recording incident data, and analyzing patterns. Detailed procedures for recording, including basic operations like airworthiness status, flight plan preparation, and operational reports as well as passenger manifests, dispatches, and post flight papers, must be established. This process confirms the expectations in the Flight Department’s Best Practices guidelines.


Creating a Risk Matrix plots out the probability and severity of potential risks to determine the action needed to maintain safety. This process is so valuable that most aviation certification standards highly recommend it.


Install a Safety Management System
Safety Management Systems aviation tools (SMS) help organizations discover risks and avoid incidents. SMS Systems, such as PRISM ARMOR, can serve as a focal point for collection, analysis, and communication of safety information. The SMS should be tailored to the size of the operation and include the involvement of all stakeholders. Integrating SMS into aviation operations can help identify and mitigate a variety of risks for an operation.

Since each organization is different, the Flight Department Best Practices should be designed to fit the specific safety needs and size of the operation. Customization allows a business to focus on the areas of top concern. There is no system that can create the best practices for all flight departments. Hiring a consultant to evaluate current systems is the best way to begin the customization process.


The ARGUS Flight Department Best Practices Assessment (FDBPA) helps businesses operate a Part 91 Flight Department to a higher level of performance. These assessments provide an experienced, objective look at the operation. The assessment can be flexible, focusing solely on maintenance and operations, or comprehensive. Other areas such as safety culture, communications or areas of specific interest can be included. Experienced ARGUS consultants can answer questions and offer solutions to assessment concerns. Take advantage of the collaborative process the ARGUS FDBPA gives Part 91 flight operation.

Written  By:
Patrick O'Flaherty

Patrick O'Flaherty

Director of Audit Programs and Business Aviation

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