Trip support group United Aviation Services (UAS) has boosted its international network with a new U.S. headquarters established in Houston and the launch last month of a trip management system. The Dubai-based company has signaled its intent to roll out more flight-support offices in other parts of the world.
The UAS facility in Houston, which opened in late August, has a staff of 40 people, more than 20 of whom are in the operations department, which operates 24/7 arranging services such as fuel, flight permits and ground handling. Founded in 2000, the company has made significant investments in recruiting and training staff based in 37 locations around the world. It has 37 different nationalities among its 350 personnel who speak a total of 40 languages.
According to Jay Husary, UAS’s senior director of operations and sales, the Houston office gives the company’s services a more local feel for its established client base in North America and closer access to clients in Latin America. The new office is managed by experienced international flight planning executive Ryan Frankhouser, who was formerly with Arinc Direct.
UAS’s trip management system serves as a portal for customers, as well as for the company’s own operations team. The online portal, which was developed in-house, allows users (mainly pilots and flight schedulers) to track every aspect of a trip in real time. In March the system will introduce a billing function that allows clients to make payments and check invoices. It will also serve as a tool for UAS to provide service quotes.
To develop the system, UAS asked 40 customers to specify the features they would like to see in it. This resulted in a beta version of the software, which was then given to a separate group of pilots and flight department personnel for evaluation. According to Husary, the feedback has been positive. “[Testers] said it is comprehensive, simple and user friendly,” he told AIN. “It’s like having an operations department in your smartphone.”
All aspects of a trip are updated immediately and the users can manage their current trip or go back as far as 10 years to check details from previous trips. Every user has a unique ID and password to ensure secure access to the system, which can be used on a tablet device or smartphone. It provides live updates on events in much the same way Apple does on the iPhone.
In areas lacking infrastructure the company’s goal is to ensure that there is at least a trained ground handling agent on site to make the best of the limited resources. This is a fairly common challenge for UAS since it supports clients in all the major emerging business aviation markets, such as Africa, Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
“Turkmenistan is a good example of this,” said Husary. “There is little infrastructure there but we have ensured that our people on the ground know what to do to compensate for this. We invest in training people to deliver the maximum level of service. We believe in proactive readiness. This means analyzing trends from previous trips to the same places and making preventive plans so that we are well positioned to handle even unique challenges.”
One of the most recent additions to its network is at Bishkek in Kyrgystan. It took more than a year of preparation to establish this operation, but Husary insisted, “We won’t start a project with a UAS tag on it without ensuring that we can do things to the same standard.”