Each year the National Business Aviation Association recognizes member companies that have superb safety records. The commercial (Part 135) flight operations of Crow Executive Air, Seneca Foods and Skybird Aviation are the top three being honored in that category for the year 2010.
AIN spoke with representatives of two of the top companies in the commercial category to find out more about their operations and their safety success.
Crow Executive Air
63 Years 137,203 Hours
Eric Barnum has been president of Crow Executive Air, an FBO and Part 135 air carrier, since 1982. He told AIN, “Our company is a family business and I grew up doing nothing but airplanes.” His father headed the company before him. He’s now retired but several years ago he brought a Grumman Mallard amphibian back from Fiji.
Over the years, Crow has operated “Piper Cubs; Grumman Widgeons and Mallards; Beechcraft Staggerwings; Lockheed 10s; Beech 18s; numerous models of Aero Commanders; all manner of Piper twins; Fairchild Metroliners; Beechcraft King Airs (90 and B100); a Cessna Conquest II; Learjet models 24, 24B, 24D, 24DXR, 25B, 25BXR, 35, 35A; a Hawker 400/731; Hawker 700 and a few dozen others!” said Barnum.
Today, Crow operates four Learjet 35As and a Beechcraft King Air B100, with 14 crewmembers and a dozen or so support members. In addition to FBO and charter operations, The company offers maintenance and aircraft management services. Headquartered at Toledo Executive Airport, Crow also has bases in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Omaha, Neb.
“Although we offer charter services to a wide range of clientele, and services such as corporate, leisure travel, air freight, airline crew and maintenance support,” Barnum said, “we are currently heavily involved in the air ambulance and organ procurement business.
“I am not a professional pilot by trade,” Barnum replied to a question about his favorite corporate aircraft, “but I enjoy being moved around in a Lear 35A.”
Barnum attributes the company’s long record of safe operation primarily to an attitude of safe operations throughout the company, regardless of regulations, and going beyond what is required. He said the company itself must have an attitude of safety regardless of the demands of customers or of the bottom line.
Van Nuys, Calif.
Skybird Aviation is a Part 135 jet charter operation based at Van Nuys Airport in California. The company started in 1976 with two pilots and a dispatcher operating a new Lear 24. In just the first five years, it operated a Lear 24E, 23D, 28, 35 and 55E. In 1979, Skybird added a Gulfstream and in 1987 became the operator of the first GIV built, which it traded for a new GIV-SP after 14 years.
Skybird now operates a Gulfstream 550, with four full-time pilots, one mechanic, one flight attendant and a scheduler, Raquel Cabrera. Cabrera, who has been with the company for 16 years, said she is responsible for other functions such as accounting and administrative duties as Skybird is a small company. Before joining Skybird, she worked at Clay Lacy Aviation and for the Van Nuys airport.
Norman Anderson, director of operations and line captain for Skybird, is a recipient of this year’s Top Pilot award (see page 00). He has been with the company for 35 years. He told AIN, “I attribute Skybird’s good safety record to hiring the right people.” Cabrera added, “We have experienced pilots and don’t take any shortcuts.”