Scoring the FAA's Highest Grade

Posted by William Herp on Wed, Jan 02, 2013

“Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.”

That famous, wry quotation is attributed to Samuel Johnson, an 18th Century English poet, critic and thinker who, it is said, is the second-most quoted writer in the English language, behind only Shakespeare.  But it just as easily could have been attributed to any of our Linear Air team members when a half-dozen inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration came calling for what’s called a "Focused Inspection."

Of course, I’m kidding – mostly.

It is serious business when the FAA puts any air transportation company under its most intense microscope. Linear Air, like every FAA-licensed provider of air transportation services, is subject to a Focused Inspection at any time. These don’t happen very often; usually once every three to six years or so. But they are of the utmost importance. A poor grade can lead to severe penalties – the worst of which could be the loss of your license to fly. So, in a sense, a Focused Inspection could turn into a hanging, of sorts, for any aviation company that’s found to be wanting in terms of its commitment to operational safety and business excellence.

Happily, despite the nervousness that comes with being the subject of such an inspection, Linear Air passed with flying colors. Our inspectors told us that they found us a pleasure to work with. That’s probably because we take a “partner” approach rather than an “adversarial” approach in dealing with the FAA. We do that because we have nothing to hide. If the inspectors find - as they did this time with us - something in one of our manuals that needs to be clarified to reflect procedural changes previously approved by the FAA, we thank them for bringing it to our attention. It’s a small detail. But aviation safety is the product of thousands and thousands of small details being handled right. That’s why these kinds of inspections are valuable tools to operators like us.

Passing the Focused Inspection – and doing so well in it - provides validation to our people and to our customers. It means that our people are doing their jobs very well. And it tells our customers that they can trust us to do all the little things that have to be done every day, without fail, to provide them maximum safety when they fly with us. That’s because no aviation company can fool the teams of FAA inspectors who perform these kinds of intensive and thorough inspections. We can’t “game” the system. The inspectors are trained to uncover not only big, glaring problems, but also little ones that may seem to be unrelated to one another but which actually point to systemic failures or management penny-pinching in critical areas affecting safety.       

In other words - as Samuel Johnson might have pointed out if he’d offered his sage observation today rather than nearly 300 years ago – if our minds aren’t focused on doing things the right way every single day, we could face the business equivalent of a hanging whenever we come up for a Focused Inspection.

Of course, passing such an inspection and keeping our license isn’t the only motivation we have for operating a high-quality, safety-focused air transportation service. We also do it because we want to provide the most comfortable, most convenient, most efficient, and safest on-demand air-taxi service possible to our customers – one that provides them with the absolute best value for their travel dollars whether they're flying the executive team to Syracuse for the day, or the family to Bar Harbor for the weekend. And we want our customers to come back to us again and again – and to recommend us to others - which, I am proud to say, they often do. That won’t happen if don’t pay very close attention to the many critical details of flying, of maintaining sophisticated aircraft and components, of training our employees, of keeping records properly, and of handling our business in a legally proper and ethical way.

We also do it because our own people – including own family – fly on Linear Air. I sure do. In addition to being the company’s founder and CEO, I fly several trips each month as a Linear Air pilot. I enjoy piloting, and flying the line gives me a chance to meet and visit with our customers, to find out what they like about Linear Air’s service, and how we might be able to serve them even better in the future.  So I, like most Linear Air employees, have real skin in the game when comes to operating Linear Air according to the highest standards. And it’s great to know that the world’s most respected, independent authority on the subject - the FAA - has just recently confirmed that.

See you onboard!




Tags: faa, federal aviation administration, flight safety, pilot training

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