Don’t Just Kick the Tires and Clean the Windscreen

As air travel and aviation in general start to take the first tentative steps to emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown, the reactivation of aircraft that have been parked for the past three of four months needs to be addressed.

Storing aircraft, even for the short-term is nothing new for most major airlines. However, for smaller regional airlines, corporate flight departments, and other commercial operators this may have been a new experience.

So were the aircraft properly stored and were measures taken to safeguard the aircraft’s ultra-sensitive avionics systems? All apertures and openings through which environmental factors – sand, dirt, water, birds, and insects – can find their way inside an aircraft are wrapped up and made watertight. That includes engines and air data probes – such as pitot, static, temperature, angle of attack sensors – engine intakes and exhausts, and APU intakes and exhausts.

Were maintenance or maintenance control staff furloughed? Have calendar-based inspections lapsed? Are the CVR/FDR, ELT, Altimeters, Transponders overdue recertification?

Emirates Airlines estimates that It may require around 4-5 dedicated employees and at least 18-24 hours to put just one of its aircraft back into service.

With the aircraft now ready to fly, what about the aircrew? Recency will have expired for most aircrew unless they had access to a simulator, proficiency checks will be overdue for some.

Start-up procedures will have to be carefully managed to ensure that public confidence in air travel, already at historic low because of the pandemic, is not further compromised.

At Rocky Mountain Aircraft we have some unique expertise at reactivating aircraft from years of improper storage or even abandonment. With our own aircraft back online we are happy to offer advice and assistance to enable our industry to soar back into the skys.

Time to reactivate - Sleeping Plane

Is Age a Factor in Aircraft Safety?

Boeings new 737 MAX have been grounded for over 12 months following two crashes and multiple loss of lives. The 737 MAX airliner only entered airline service in 2018.

Recently, the Snowbirds lost one of their aircraft, the cause is currently unknown but public speculation has focused on the age of the aircraft. The Tutors CT-114 jets first flew in 1960.

The answer to the question “Is age a factor in aircraft safety?” of course should be an emphatic no. The regulated design, maintenance and operation of an aircraft is in place to ensure that an aircraft is as safe to fly from the day it leaves the production facility to the day it is finally withdrawn from service.

What keeps an aircraft safe, is its robust safety systems to manage Design, Operation, and Continued Airworthiness. These need to be embedded into every organization that is involved in aviation, and audited by independent regulators. Jurisdictions that limit the age of aircraft are making a tacit admission that their systems and oversight are lacking.

One result of the 737 Max accidents was in design procedure failures for new aircraft types as has been highlighted. From the information released by the initial investigation, regulatory oversight had been compromised. A secure non-punitive reporting system at Boeing had failed, a toxic corporate culture had developed, and commercial pressure had resulted in an unsafe aircraft design being allowed into airline service.

The DC3 an example of aging aircraft
Kenn Borek Air DC3 Basler
Photo Credit – Alex Praglowski

While the 737 Max is grounded, the venerable DC3 designed and first flown in the 1930s is still in use with some specialist operators. Commercial air travel is still the safest form of transportation, but when accidents do occur it is normally due to complex multifaceted failures of safety systems. No accident investigation has ever come to the conclusion that the aircraft was “just too old to fly anymore”

Alberta Isn’t Short of Jobs – It Is Short of Employees

“In our one hundred and sixteenth year as a province, Alberta faces some of the biggest (economic) challenges we have ever met.” This quote from the premier of Alberta’s’ throne speech promising continued action on job creation and improving the economy.

While the energy and construction industry in Alberta are facing major challenges, one must ask are there any industries in the province that are prospering?

Look To the Sky

Aviation Industry for example. From major airlines, regional operators, aircraft manufacturing companies, maintenance organizations, plus a plethora of associated services the industry is crying out for skilled employees to enable expansion.

So what is preventing the next generation of students from selecting aviation as a career, or former energy industry workers from retraining? Lack of awareness?

Cockpit view of runway
Cockpit view of the runway

This is a fast-paced, highly professional, safety critical industry. Previously having a reputation of both a macho and glamorous industry has changed. Flying is now perceived as mundane, not glamorous. Mundane, when related to aviation being synonymous with safe, efficient, accessible. Machoism has been replaced by professionalism. The number of women in the industry has been steadily increasing, no longer are women just flight attendants but front line fighter pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers, and everything in between.

As an industry, we have to represent ourselves more effectively at high schools, colleges, career fairs. To encourage prospective future pilots, engineers, and others that becoming a successful aviation professional takes a lot of technical skills and knowledge. It also requires time invested in the proper schooling and training.

Helicopter Cockpit
Helicopter Cockpit

A passion for aviation, if not the initial driving force to enter the industry, needs to be developed during training. Passion will drive other skills needed to succeed. After gaining the skills and traits needed, new employees can look forward to new challenges, the job is never routine. Our industry is an exciting and rewarding place to work. Travel is often a possibility and one of the great benefits of aviation.

We need to get the message out to Albertans, forget unpaid internships, the gig economy, minimum wage jobs. We are open for business, hiring in all departments. Make a commitment to a fulfilling career in aviation.

Employees working on airplane
Employees working on an airplane

Rocky Mountain Aircraft is always on the look-out for hardworking individuals who strive for quality results and are passionate about excellence. Take a look at our current career opportunities.

The Story of Rocky Mountain Aircraft

For over three decades, the Stevenson’s and their team have built Rocky Mountain Aircraft into a world-class company with operations based right here in Calgary.  The Story of Rocky Mountain Aircraft began back in 1982.

Rocky Mountain Aircraft remains a family-owned and operated business, leasing and maintaining twin turbine powered aircraft, and known especially for their classic Twin Otter expertise.

Twin Otter Image with glowing rainbow in the background - Story of Rocky Mountain Aircraft
© Geoff Lawrence Photography

Founded by George Stevenson and his wife Liane in 1989 at Springbank Airport near Calgary, the company has grown in size and capabilities. Initially started with just 3 employees in a less than ideal hangar. The company now employs over sixty employees and manages a leasing fleet of more than 40 aircraft.

The technical depth and experience in aviation gained over the last three decades has allowed the company to develop unique insights into cost-effective, quality heavy maintenance for Twin Otter and other similar twin turbine aircraft.

Now entering its fourth decade of operation, the company is focused on the evolution of commercial aviation and adapting to new challenges and innovations.

Under the direction of Shannon Stevenson, the company is poised for continued growth.  Rocky Mountain Aircraft has developed as a family-owned and operated business, and will continue to do so into the next decade.

Rocky Mountain Aircraft prides itself on providing quality and reliable work, providing peace of mind to each and every customer no matter what size the job.

To learn more about the services and products Rocky Mountain Aircraft provides, visit the website, or drop us a line today.