The recent acquisition of aviation risk management and safety audit provider Wyvern Consulting marks the latest chapter in the expansion of flight operations support company Nexus. In recent years, the Saudi Arabia-based group also has extended its presence in key markets beyond the Middle East with the opening of new flight support operations in Africa, India and Europe.
U.S.-based Wyvern became part of Nexus Services America following an acquisition from online charter portal Avinode. Its Wyvern Wingman and Wyvern Registered audits now will be promoted by Nexus, which also has partnerships with training provider FlightSafety International, security specialist FAM International and consultants MAZ AviationGroup.
Nexus (Stand P5) moved quickly to strengthen the Wyvern board with the appointment of three new directors: former NetJets executive Vincent Santulli, former Beechcraft executive Shawn Vick and former FAA associate administrator Nick Sabatini. Wyvern CEO Art Dawley, an experienced corporate pilot and flight department manager, also has joined theboard.
The Wyvern management team has been further bolstered by the appointment of Phil Dawley as chief information officer, with responsibility for managing IT compliance programs and new product development. Ray Smith has come to the company from Jet Aviation Flight Services to be its new director of audit operations and he will be supported by new deputy director Carl Flynn.
According to Nexus president and CEO Abdullah Al-Sayed, his main motive for acquiring motive was the lack of established safety audit and risk management companies in key emerging markets like the Middle East, Africa and Asia. “Of the companies providing these services, Wyvern is the most protective of its standards,” he told AIN. “It is very rigid and conservative, and there has never been an accident with an aircraft it has audited. We’re restructuring the company, but we’re not interfering with its standards.”
Nexus does not have its own executives on the Wyvern board, in part to avoid any perceived conflict of interest in its role as an aircraft management company. The new board members were chosen for their rich experience with leading manufacturers, operators and regulatory bodies.
In November, Wyvern held the first of its reorganized advisory board meetings and included several operators who are not customers as well as representatives of bodies such as the Flight Safety Foundation and the United Nations Food Program. The meeting included just over 30 percent participation by companies and individuals from outside the U.S.
Currently, Nexus has around 13 aircraft under full management for purely private Part 91 operations and provides various levels of management support (mainly involving scheduling and dispatching) for another 135. It is approved as a continuing airworthiness management organization by authorities in the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. According to Al-Sayed, the aircraft Nexus manages are operated to the standards of air operator certificate holders. The company is IS-BAO-certified and preparing to be audited for the higher IS-BAO stage two standard in January.
In October, Wyvern released the latest Revision 2.0 version of its Wingman Standard that sets the safety benchmark expected for Wingman certified operators. The new standard is based on feedback from a variety of industry sources and customers and takes account of how new technology has changed the risk approach taken by aircraft manufacturers, training providers and operators.
The changes in Revision 2.0 include an alternative method for pilots to achieve their 90- and 365-day aircraft type currency requirements for Pilot and Aircraft Safety Surveys by measuring operations defined in the standard as Critical Segments of Flight. The new approach is intended to take more account of how pilots handle high workload environments over shorter flight segments, rather than simply basing the assessment of total flight hours.
According to Dawley, becoming part of the Nexus group has given Wyvern far greater access to international markets and it intends to co-locate its representatives in all Nexus offices. The change in ownership should also improve Wyvern’s ability to guide its charter-buying clients to a wider network of approved operators globally.
In an alliance with insurance company AIG, Wyvern is now offering a new package of safety and loss control services called AirGuard. The service addresses the safety and regulatory risks faced by corporate flight departments and charter operators.
Intercontinental Flight Support
In addition to its flight operations centers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, Nexus now has an East African base in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The group also has partnerships with FlightSafety International, security specialist FAM International and consultants MAZ AviationGroup.
Last month, through its alliance with FlightSafety, it signed a contract with South Korea’s Aquila International through which it will train Korean flight dispatchers in Saudi Arabia. It has also been training staff from Nigeria.
This year has seen the Nexus flight operations center move into a new high technology headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In September, it introduced a new flight dispatch system. The flight operations center includes four core teams: the Service Excellence team, which is the main interface with clients, Scheduling and Planning, Flight Support and Dispatch.
The Nexus office in Rwanda has been operational since early 2014. Working with local partner Crystal Venture Limited, it supports flights throughout Africa and also provides flight dispatch training for local operators.
In India, Nexus is partnered with Sovika Group, which provides ground support services at several of the country’s international airports. Nexus is providing the growing Indian business aviation market with trip planning, flight dispatch, crew and aircraft scheduling, maintenance management and concierge services.
In Europe, Nexus is working with local partner FlyTrans (part of the Balguerie Group). In addition to flight support, the partnership specializes in air cargo logistics.
According to Al-Sayed, for 2014, Nexus is set to achieve a growth rate of around 24 percent in the volume of flight activity it supports worldwide. The growth rate for Saudi Arabia alone is more like 40 percent.
“The recovery [in business aviation activity for the Middle East] has not been as quick as we had hoped, but people in the industry here are now more comfortable and optimistic,” he concluded. He indicated that falling oil prices will not have a serious impact on the market in oil-producing states and said that, with the exception of Yemen and Syria, most states rare recovering from the instability resulting from the so-called Arab Spring political upheaval.