AERObridge is an organization easy to understand. Formerly known as Corporate Aviation Responding in Emergencies (C.A.R.E.), AERObridge has been endorsed by NBAA to coordinate assets, such as business aircraft, during catastrophes when traditional institutions require help. That means the organization is good at funneling help to the center of one global mess after another for NGOs and local governments.
Two of AERObridge’s most recent operations include relief flying in the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake. The all-volunteer group, which is essentially on call 24 hours a day until another disaster strikes, was inactive in the years between Katrina and the Haitian crisis. It recently became an official 501c3 nonprofit and also was presented the National Aeronautics Association’s teamwork award.
Right after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, AERObridge (Booth No. N3107) began coordinating missions into the Caribbean island and helped the first flights arrive in within 48 hours. It provided critical passenger and supply transportation into and out of Port-au-Prince prior to the resumption of regular airline service. By the time the relief effort eventually slowed, some 125 aircraft had flown 715 flights carrying 3,800 passengers and more than 1.4 million pounds of critical supplies.
AERObridge says the business aviation efforts in Haiti were valued at $5 million. Some of the passengers included relief workers, injured patients and newly adopted children. The organization’s Hurricane Katrina operation included 155 flights carrying approximately 1,000 people and 250,000 pounds of critical supplies.
Turning its attention to the U.S., AERObridge has identified five geographic locations where it would prepare major logistical staging areas in the northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast and central regions. It has already begun negotiations in the metropolitan New York, Jacksonville and Denver areas. At each staging area, it plans to have a fleet of aircraft prepared for mobilization.
In order to support the program, AERObridge looks for donated hangar space and discounted fuel, as well as a ready source of first responders and medical personnel. Local groups must also be available with information, labor and expertise. The organization also hopes its regional teams will be equipped with satellite communications and datalink systems, as well as basic medical supplies and shelters, and enough food and water to support the team for a week on site without local resources.
NBAA is partnered with AERObridge, and other aviation partners include Jeppesen, JetNet and the Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association. The association’s board members include Marianne Stevenson, Noel Fournier, Douglas Schultz, Stephen Patterson, retired Congressman Vernon Ehlers and former Cirrus chairman and current Kestrel chairman and CEO Alan Klapmeier.