The NBAA Corporate Business Flying Safety Awards for 2010 have been awarded to a number of member companies, the oldest of which, ExxonMobil, has flown 300,394 safe hours over the past 79 years. AIN interviewed representatives of the five companies that have the greatest longevity in the corporate category to find out more about their operations and their safety successes. The number of years of safe flying they’ve logged and the number of safe hours flown are shown as a testament to their accomplishments.
Dallas, Texas James Johnson, manager, aviation services
Over the last 79 years, ExxonMobil has operated a great variety of aircraft ranging from Beech Staggerwings and Douglas DC-3s to Gulfstream IVs and Bombardier Global Expresses. Today, the 68-member flight department operates a Gulfstream 550, three Global Expresses and five Challenger 300s.
Seventy-nine years is a long time to fly so extensively without an accident. James Johnson, who joined the company in 1991 and became the manager of aviation services in October 2007, told AIN that the good record is due to the company’s “strong safety culture throughout every affiliate, a very robust safety management system and all of the current and past employees of our aviation department.” He said Exxon Mobil received its IS-BAO phase I certification in 2010 and phase II is scheduled for 2012.
Johnson said his own love of aviation started when he watched airplanes fly over his backyard. His parents took him to the local airport to see an airplane up close and, he said, “I was hooked from then on.”
He served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, flying the OV-10, B-52G, T-39 (Sabreliner), C-141, C-140 (JetStar) and Gulfstream III. “My last job in the military was with the 89th Military Airlift Wing, Washington, D.C., working in the Presidential Pilots Office.” He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
When asked which was his favorite corporate airplane to fly, Johnson replied: “I have enjoyed all of the aircraft I have flown, but probably the Global Express because of the range, speed and comfort it provides.”
Chevron Aviation Services
E.K.(Betty) Uhrig, general manager of aviation services
Betty Uhrig has been general manager of Chevron’s Aviation Services flight department for three years. The company operates a fleet of aircraft that provides global transportation service for Chevron executives and employees. Chevron employs approximately 58,000 people in many countries around the world. Through 2010, Aviation Services had flown 101,161 hours of accident-free flight operations.
Before joining Chevron, Uhrig served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 24 years, having joined just as the Coast Guard opened up flying to women. She started as an aviation mechanic and went on to fly C-130s and a Gulfstream III for the Coast Guard commandant. Her favorite corporate aircraft to fly, she said, is the Gulfstream G550. “It’s a pretty sweet airplane,” she commented.
When asked about Chevron’s exemplary safety record, Uhrig replied: “Aviation Services achieved phase I certification in IS-BAO last year. IS-BAO certification was just another step in our quest for always keeping safety at the forefront of our world-class flight department. At Chevron, we aim to complete every task the right way every time and our safety management system helps achieve this goal.”
Uhrig credited Chevron’s safety record to “continual awareness of the risk out there, good training and reinforcement of the importance of safety from our top executives.”
Christopher Lima, director of aviation
Eastman Kodak’s flight department is based at Rochester Airport. It started in 1945 with the acquisition of an ex-military Douglas DC-3 and made its first corporate flight on July 29 that year.
During its 65 years of operation, the Kodak flight department has flown Gulfstream I, GII, GIV and Bombardier Challenger 600 series jets. In those three-and-a-half decades, it has logged 114,857 hours, the most recent of which were in a Challenger 604 and a Global Express.
Christopher Lima has been with Kodak for 12 years. He served as chief pilot for six years, then became director of aviation two-and-a-half years ago. He said he enjoyed flying the Global Express most. Lima became interested in aviation in the sixth grade, when he took his first flight–to Disney World–and saw all the pilots at the airport. He earned a B.S. in aviation management, with a minor in flight technology, from Florida Tech, and joined the ROTC while in college. He then served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, flying helicopters. Before joining Kodak, he flew for Seneca Foods in Penn Yan, N.Y.
When asked about the company’s 65 years of safe operation, Lima said, “It all comes down to the people, from the corporate level to the great people in the flight department.” He added that in the last six years, eight of the 11 people in the department have gone through NBAA’s Certified Aviation Management program. He credited the company’s record to the corporate culture of safety.
On the department’s 60th anniversary, NBAA presented Eastman Kodak chairman Antonio Perez with a commemorative plaque.
Terry L. Smith, director of flight operations
The Owens Corning flight department, based at Toledo Express Airport, flies mostly in North America, with occasional European and Asian trips, said Terry Smith, director of flight operations. Owens Corning is a global company that produces glass fiber and foam insulation, roofing and composites. The flight department, which has a 65-year history, now operates two Cessna Citation Sovereigns and a Citation Encore. The department consists of nine full-time pilots, including Smith, and three contract pilots and employs a total of 19 people. “Our retention rate is high,” he said, “more than half of our people have been here more than 20 years.”
Smith has been employed by Owens Corning for 32 of the flight department’s 65 years, 17 as director of flight operations. He has logged approximately 17,000 hours. His favorite corporate airplane to fly is, he said, “without a doubt, the Falcon 900EX.” Smith’s father, still an active private pilot flying an RV9A at age 88, gave Terry his first airplane ride when he was 15. While enrolled at The Ohio State University, he earned his instructor’s certificate in the first quarter and worked as an instructor for the next four years while attending classes.
Smith said Owens Corning has an unconditional commitment to safety, and that commitment has led to its impeccable record for flight operations. “We firmly believe that all accidents are preventable and that safety is everyone’s responsibility,” he said. Another reason for the many years of continuous safe operations is the extraordinary talent that makes up the flight department. “Everyone in the flight department is fully engaged and they are top performers,” he told AIN.
The Owens Corning flight department is IS-BAO phase III certified. “Our safety management system has changed the way we operate on a daily basis,” said Smith. “However, it takes 100 percent of participation to have a successful system in place. We continue to strive for excellence in every aspect of the operation.”
Idaho Power Co.
Rick Johnson, chief pilot
Idaho Power, the state’s largest utility, provides electric services to nearly 500,000 customers in a 24,000-square-mile service area in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. It has 17 low-cost hydroelectric projects and employs 2,000 people.
The flight department’s early aircraft included a Cessna 180 and a Piper Aztec, a Navajo and a Cheyenne. It now operates a Cessna Citation II with two full-time pilots. Rick Johnson has been working for Idaho Power for 12 years, four as chief pilot.
He told AIN that he wanted to be a pilot, “even before starting grade school.” He joined the U.S. Army and retired as a major. A Master Army aviator, Johnson flew fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft first as an attack helicopter pilot in the UH-1B/C and then as a multi-engine fixed-wing pilot in the RU-8D. In the Army, he also flew TH-13s, T-41s, T-42s, U-21s, O-1s and C-12s. After leaving the military, he said, “I flew fixed-wing life flight for a company serving a Boise Hospital.”
The reason for Idaho Power’s long safety record? “Safety is a value at Idaho Power,” Johnson explained. “The company is extremely safety conscious in all areas. Pilots are held to high standards of training and operation.”