AviationManuals Publishes Guide to Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL)

Washington, D.C., September 13, 2021 – AviationManuals, the leading provider of digital operations manuals, has published its revised complimentary guide to understanding Minimum Equipment List (MEL) requirements.

“An MEL is the best and most widely accepted way to determine the conditions under which a flight can be commenced with inoperative equipment,” said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. “This complimentary MEL guide helps flight departments understand where and when an MEL is required, and why they should consider getting one.”

The MEL Guide describes:

  • Differences between a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for aircraft types and a custom MEL for an operation’s actual aircraft.
  • Requirements for operators based on state of registry and area of operation.
  • Value of a Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) program.

The new AviationManuals MEL Guide can be found here.

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including 62 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as SMS software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

How to take to the skies with the right LOA [+ Free LOA Guide]

The LOA development and application process may seem daunting, especially when you’re doing it alone. With our free LOA Guide (Download Here), we provide an overview of what LOAs are, when you need them, and how straightforward the application process can be.

 

Get Your LOA Guide

 

What is an FAA Letter of Authorization (LOA)?

A Letter of Authorization (LOA) in aviation is a formal document approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Part 91 operators (known as Operations Specifications (OpSpecs) for Part 135) authorizing them to engage in specific flight activity. For example, when an operator wishes to use data link when flying outside of the United States, they would need to apply for a Data Link Communications LOA – otherwise known as an LOA A056. Always check which LOAs are required when planning your trip, especially when flying abroad.

Here are a few useful LOA facts:

  • LOAs do not expire, unless under exceptional circumstances. You do not need to renew your LOA, unless significant operational information changes, since LOAs are tied to the aircraft and operator.
  • For an LOA to be in effect, the indicated operator should have operational control of the flight.
  • Once you receive your approved LOA, there’s not much else to do – no follow up is required with your Flight Standards District Office, unless you’re looking to add an authorization or revise the information on an LOA.

For an overview of all LOAs and when you need them, take a look at our LOA Guide.

Applying for an LOA

The FAA is responsible for issuing LOAs to the rightful operator, or the entity with operational control over the aircraft for a particular flight. However, the operator is not necessarily the manager or owner of the aircraft. Where multiple operators use the same aircraft, separate LOAs would be required for each operator. 

When applying for an LOA, there are a few steps to take to ensure you have all the required materials:

  1. Make sure you have the right manual for the right LOA ready and up-to-date. Prepare the necessary operations procedures by either creating a standalone manual, or adding an appendix to an existing one.
  2. Gather all supporting documentation required by the FAA, such as training certificates, or company procedures, as well as a cover letter, along with potential FAA checklists, forms, or job aids.
  3. Once you have all documentation in place and have looked over all FAA instructions, the final step is submitting the application. Each FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) is different though, so you can expect additional instructions or feedback. Be meticulous in preparing all documentation to avoid your application being delayed or even denied. Keep in mind that we can support you throughout the entire LOA application process.

Application turnaround times vary according to which LOA you’ve applied for. Since it can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, plan your LOA application well before you plan to take to the skies.

Download your free LOA guide now to learn more about the application process, which LOAs are required when, as well as application turnaround times. Reach out to us for any questions you may have. Our LOA experts are here to help!

AviationManuals/ARC Launch New Products, Grow Client Base, Make Investments & Add Staff in 2020

Poised for International Gains in 2021

Washington, Jan. 18, 2021 – During 2020, AviationManuals and sister company ARC Safety Management invested heavily in software development, introduced new manual offerings, and added personnel to continue to provide the most responsive support.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide tragedy it has developed into, which disrupted aviation overall, the company was able to weather the economic downturn. By quickly responding to changing market needs with new product offerings, AviationManuals and ARC were able to add nearly 300 new clients and grow by more than 25 percent.

Easy Solutions Based on Customers’ Needs

“The impact of the pandemic has been enormous,” said company CEO Mark Baier. “As the aviation industry shifted, we were able to use our agility as a strength to quickly respond to changing customer needs. As 2020 progressed, we recognized that flight departments were utilizing the forced downtime to improve their internal operations. Our philosophy is, and has always been, to make improving your aviation operation simple, in any environment, by providing tools that are easy to implement.”

Worldwide Growth

Baier said, “As with everyone else, we begin 2021 hopeful that the roll out of the Coronavirus vaccine will have a positive impact on people’s lives and the economy. Along with launching more exciting software updates in the first few months of 2021, we have also developed a new suite of services for Part 135 operators, which we just announced,” he added.

“At the same time, we are swiftly expanding into new markets in Europe, Latin America, Australia, South Africa, and Asia. Our goal is to expand our international sales beyond the current 30 percent. We’re doubling down on our ability to deliver both software and manuals to aviation operators everywhere.”

Investing in Tools for Customers During the Pandemic

AviationManuals and ARC Safety Management invested heavily in improving their software particularly in the area of metrics. Now clients can better analyze their internal metrics and customize them to their own operations. ARC’s entire metrics dashboard is richer and far more interactive, making it a more valuable tool after the latest December release.

During 2020, AviationManuals and ARC grew their team by 20 percent and introduced a number of new products, including:

  • COVID-19 procedures for flight, ground, emergency response plans, and FBOs
  • A guide for Minimum Equipment Lists (MELs) and additional advisors to handle increased activity in response to FAA updates, registering a record year for MEL activity
  • Augmented ARC Safety Management System Risk Assessment Tools with a multi-stage approval process
  • Maintenance Manuals for business aviation flight departments
  • A new complimentary in-depth Flight Planning Guide available for download on AviationManuals’ website
  • Designation as an IS-BAO Programme Support Affiliate
  • Additional staff to support software, account management, and operations and set up a Customer Success Department
  • New European representation and increased support for operators on San Marino and the Isle of Man registries.

4,500 Aircraft Fly with AviationManuals/Arc Safety Management

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including more than 60 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as Safety Management System (SMS) software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), and EFBs.

 

About AviationManuals 

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

AviationManuals’ sister company ARC Safety Management is a modular online and app solution for managing safety, communications and overall aviation operations. The company offers customizable web and mobile Safety Management Systems for aircraft operations, FBOs and commercial drone operators to submit, store and analyze SMS data. For more info go to www.arcsky.com.

 

AviationManuals Introduces Part 135 Suite

AviationManuals Introduces Part 135 Suite Making Regulatory Compliance Easier 

Washington, Jan. 11, 2021 – AviationManuals and ARC Safety Management are offering a new FAA Part 135 suite of services covering operational manual content, Safety Management System (SMS) development, and digital management tools.

The new offering, tailored specifically to FAA Part 135 operators, is now available and makes compliance with Part 135 document requirements and third party audit standards easier. It can be purchased as a complete package, or modularly, based on need. Operators simply need to complete a questionnaire to get started.

The service includes operations manual content and revision support, as well as digital manual distribution and tracking tools online and via app. It also includes SMS software with tools for collecting, analyzing and monitoring SMS data, effective communication, and change management, online and through an iPad app. Teams will always have access to what they need, when they need it, with ARC Safety Management digital solutions, even on the go without Wi-Fi.

“As charter operations face new challenges and changes to procedures driven by new requirements, best practices and new customer demands, the ability to maintain policies and procedures, and quickly and effectively communicate changes to their teams will be critical,” said AviationManuals and ARC Safety Management CEO Mark Baier.

“Part 135 Department Managers are already busy. The new Part 135 suite offering means that they will no longer have to spend as much time managing and distributing their documentation, since we will provide content and digital distribution. On top of that, our ARC SMS software will help operators manage change, risk and safety data better by automating those tasks,” he added.

Included in the package are the following

  • ARC Safety Management System Software and Manuals
  • General Operations Manual
  • General Maintenance Manual
  • International Operations Procedures Manual
  • Minimum Equipment List
  • Emergency Response Plan
  • LOA Support Services
  • EFB Program
  • Electronic Manual Program
  • Flight Attendant Manual
  • Training Manual

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including more than 60 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as SMS software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

About AviationManuals 

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

AviationManuals’ sister company ARC Safety Management is a modular online and app solution for managing safety, communications and overall aviation operations. The company offers customizable web and mobile Safety Management Systems for aircraft operations, FBOs, and commercial drone operators to submit, store and analyze SMS data. For more info go to www.arcsky.com.

 

AviationManuals Designated as IS-BAO Programme Support Affiliate

AviationManuals Designated as IS-BAO Programme Support Affiliate

Washington, Dec. 14, 2020 – AviationManuals has been accepted as an IS-BAO Programme Support Affiliate (PSA) from the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), under the organizations new structure. The PSA achievement comes after AviationManuals was named a Preferred Provider by IS-BAO last year and further solidifies both organizations’ close working relationship.

PSA was designed to identify vendors who support business aviation operators with implementing, seeking or maintaining registration to IBAC international standards. AviationManuals supports nearly 500 clients that utilize IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations).

The confirmation of the PSA gives AviationManual’s  clientele additional confidence that the counsel it provides will enable operators to achieve IS-BAO benchmarks of excellence for their aviation operations and Safety Management Systems (SMS).

The AviationManualsIS-BAO program is led by subject matter expert Kevin Honan, our Senior Advisor, Operations Manuals and Emergency Response Plans,” said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. He and the team do an exceptional job developing and maintaining content to support clients’ individual IS-BAO registrations.

In today’s busy and turbulent aviation environment, operators may need expertise and guidance with the six-step process to IS-BAO registration,” said Bennet Walsh, Director of the IS-BAO Programme. The IS-BAO Programme Support Affiliates are vetted by our team to assure quality support from knowledgeable professionals and we congratulate AviationManuals as a new Programme Support Affiliate.”

IBAC has redesigned its affiliate program (formerly I3SA) and now designates qualified vendors as Programme Support Affiliates. PSA recognizes exceptional businesses that actively assist organizations with improved and more effective safety standards in the context of an IBAC International Standards program.

IS-BAO PSAs are required to demonstrate their ability to positively support the program during initial application and any renewal of affiliation. The goal of the PSA program is for IBAC to provide a validated list of third-party vendors that will support organizations seeking to implement the IBAC Standards Program through to registration.

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including more than 60 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as SMS software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

About AviationManuals 

AviationManuals products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

AviationManuals’ sister company ARC Safety Management provides a modular online and app solution for managing safety, communications and overall aviation operations. The company offers customizable web and mobile Safety Management Systems for aircraft operations, FBOs and commercial drone operators to submit, store and analyze SMS data. For more info go to www.arcsky.com.

New Flight Planning Guide Helps Decipher Equipment Codes and Fuel Requirements

AviationManuals Makes It Complimentary

 

Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2020 – AviationManuals, the leading provider of digital flight manuals, has released a new in-depth guide to help with common mistakes operators make on flight plans. The detailed Flight Planning Guide is complimentary and available for download on AviationManuals’ website.

“Errors on flight plans can cause flight delays, force route changes, and even slow LOA approvals,” said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. “We are providing this complementary Flight Planning Guide to help operators avoid some of the pitfalls we are seeing related to incorrect flight plan completion,” he added.

According to the FAA, “Over 80 percent of A056 applications fail because the equipment of the aircraft does not match what is being claimed and filed on the flight plan.” AviationManuals’ new Flight Planning Guide can help operators ensure their flight plans accurately reflect such things as minimum fuel requirements, fuel allocation requirements, as well as select correct equipment codes, and follow proper formatting standards.

Detailed information is provided about each equipment code and how common the equipment is for most business jet aircraft. Field codes covered include, navigation capabilities of the aircraft, surveillance equipment, PBN (RNAV and RNP) systems, data link, and other important parameters.  It also covers frequently misunderstood ICAO fuel requirements and designations.

The guide includes checklists operators can fill out and send to their flight planning service providers to update the codes included on their flight plans. AviationManuals’ latest guide is part of a series of complimentary products that aid flight departments in performing more efficiently and effectively.

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including more than 60 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as SMS software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

AviationManuals’ sister company ARC Safety Management is a modular online and app solution for managing safety, communications and overall aviation operations. The company offers customizable web and mobile Safety Management Systems for aircraft operations, FBOs and commercial drone operators to submit, store and analyze SMS data.

Flight Planning Codes Demystified [+ Free Guide]

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 10th, 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

November 16, 2020

A flight plan is a critical part of a flight and it is essential to ensure that it’s properly prepared. Unfortunately,mistakes are often made when completing them, due to lack of knowledge or confusion about regulations. It’s important to ensure your flight plans are going to ATC with the right codes to help you avoid clearance changes and delays. Errors on sample flight plans are also a frequent reason why Letters of Authorization are either delayed or not approved.

Our experts have compiled a free Flight Planning Guide with equipment checklists for operators and their planning providers to make sure their flight plan meets ATC’s and the FAA’s expectations.

 

Download Your Free Guide with Checklists

 

Flight planning codes for LOA approval

When applying for a Letter of Authorization (LOA), there is a lot of paperwork to prepare and the FAA wants to make sure everything is in order. For applications for LOAs A056, Data Link Communications (CPDLC/ADS-C), and B036, Oceanic and Remote Operations (RNP-10/RNP-4/RNP-2), a sample flight plan is required.

Since you’re requesting Data Link and PBN authorization for the aircraft, the FAA will specifically be checking whether the flight planning codes listed in ICAO Items 10 and 18 are correct for the aircraft capabilities. 

Unfortunately, there are often errors in this section, which end up causing delays in the approval of LOAs. While flight planning codes may seem like just a bunch of letters and numbers on paper, errors can have real consequences when received by ATC, such as inadvertent flight penalties or the inability to receive an in-flight clearance. Operators and planning providers must share the responsibility in correctly filing flight planning codes. 

Your flight planning code checklist

We’ve put together a list of important form items operators can run through to check the most common Flight Plan Form errors.

For the full list of codes you need to consider, download the Flight Planning Guide

Item 10

List the navigation and communication equipment and capabilities of your aircraft.

Item 10a

  • Review your data link codes (J codes).
    These codes will include “J1” through “J7”
    Most DLC-capable aircraft are capable of VDL M2. If your aircraft is VDL M2 capable then you need to have the “J4” code listed.
    There has been some confusion regarding this code and TSO C-160/160a compliance. TSO compliance relates to determining domestic enroute capability which affects Item 18, but does not affect this item.
  • Determine if you should include the “P2” code.
    If the aircraft is PBCS capable, “P2” should be included. If the aircraft is not PBCS capable, do not include this code. (Note that if your aircraft has Honeywell FMSs that have not yet been updated with a proper latency timer fix, then you should NOT include “P2.”)
  • Check if you will list a COM/, NAV/, or DAT/ entry in item 18.
    If you will be listing an entry in item 18, then add a “Z” code here.
    You will always list an entry in item 18 and need a “Z” code if your aircraft is data link capable.

Item 10b

  • Ensure the transponder code is correct.
    For example, if the aircraft has 1090 MHz ADS-B installed, which is very common, one of the “extended squitter” codes should be used. The most common code is L, but your aircraft may differ.

Item 18

List additional technical equipment codes to clearly communicate your aircraft capabilities. There are a lot of codes and a specific order, so errors in this section are frequent. Depending on your flight planning provider and their system, you may only have to do this once, when you set up your aircraft profile.

  • Check the code sequence.
    Keep the codes in the preferred sequence as indicated in the FAA’s flight planning brochure to prevent truncation of your flight plan resulting in an incomplete flight plan.
  • Ensure applicable RNP-4 codes are listed.
    If the aircraft is RNP-4 capable, the PBN/ entry must include L1, in addition to “A1” for RNP-10.
  • All data link equipped aircraft must include a DAT/ entry.
    Aircraft capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, without any known “push-to-load” message errors, will typically use the code DAT/1FANSE2PDC.
    Aircraft capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, with known “push-to-load” message errors, will typically use the code DAT/1FANSER2PDC.
    Aircraft not capable of US domestic en route CPDLC, but FANS equipped, will typically use DAT/1FANS2PDC.
  • Make sure the SUR/ entry is correct.
    If ADS-B is installed, it should be SUR/260A or SUR/260B, depending on the equipment.
    If the aircraft is PBCS capable/authorized, make sure to add “RSP180” to this entry.
    If the aircraft is not PBCS capable/authorized, do not enter an RSP code.
  • Make sure there are REG/, SEL/, CODE/, and OPR/ entries.
    These are all operator/aircraft specific and reflect the aircraft registration, aircraft SELCAL code, aircraft hexadecimal Mode S code, and the operator’s name, respectively.

Item 19

Include items specific to survival equipment and information for search and rescue teams. This section of the form usually isn’t transmitted to air traffic control, but the FAA considers it mandatory for LOA approval.

Finally, although not related to flight planning codes, we have seen the FAA taking notice of the fuel information as well. Here are a few key items to check:

Fuel

Equal Time Point (ETP)

  • Ensure these calculations are included in the flight plan
    The equal time point is a point along the route from which it takes the same amount of time to return to the departure point as it would to continue to the destination.

Fuel Block: This is a detailed breakdown of fuel usage.

  • Ensure fuel listed meets requirements.
    ICAO specifies seven different fuel blocks that are to be present on the flight plan.
  • Check that your naming conventions are correct.
    Keep in mind that there are different naming conventions. For best results, it is recommended that you keep your fuel block as closely matched to ICAO’s terminology as possible.
    If you name your reserve fuel “reserve” or “RESV”, rename it to “contingency”, or “CONT”.
  • Check your back up fuel.
    Authorities want to see how you plan on using your fuel and if there is enough fuel planned in the event you would need to fly to an alternate airport.
    • Be sure to add 30 minutes of holding/final reserve fuel.
    • Be sure to add 5% contingency fuel (5% of the trip fuel).

Don’t forget to download our free Flight Planning Guide

Looking for more detail on each of these items? Our International Operations and Procedures Manual has expanded information with charts explaining each code in the appendices.

Contact us for any LOA support, and check out our free LOA Guide for more information.  

Why It’s Time You Get An Operations Manual And What Should Be In It

Editors note: This post was originally published on July 29th, 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

What if there was a way for that contract pilot or a new hire to immediately understand how your company works and what its procedures are? This is where your Flight Operations Manual (FOM) comes in handy. Yet there’s so much more to an FOM. Aside from supporting your organization by formalizing procedures and guidelines, it also helps streamline your operation and assists your team in performing their duties safely. But what goes into an FOM? How customizable can it be? What are the misconceptions that might make operators hesitant to develop one?

What is an OM in aviation?

Referred to in a variety of ways such as Flight Operations, Company Operations or even General Operations Manual, an Operations Manual (OM) is the beating heart of your flight department or organization: it describes the operation, tells people what they need to know to best carry out their duties, it ensures everyone is on the same page thereby improving operational efficiency and safety, and serves as the company handbook.

All employees, contract personnel, and new hires should familiarize themselves with the OM to properly understand the workings of the operation.

Why do you need an Operations Manual?

It May Be Required

Depending on the state of registry of the aircraft and location of the primary business, an OM may be required by your regulatory authority. Additionally, if an operator is seeking third party certification, most programs require an Operations Manual and SMS. For operators that are not required to have an OM, it may still be recommended depending on the size, areas of, and types of operation.

It Can Improve Business Efficiency and Safety

The main advantage of having an OM is that your procedures and policies are formalized by being written down and standardized. The OM helps ensure business continuity for yourself, when contracting personnel, making additions to the team, or when managing staff turnover. Your team will always have a clear idea of what’s expected of them and can reference the manual if questions should arise. Without this standardization, two people might perform the same duty in different ways, which could lead to a efficiency, or worse, safety problem. An OM also helps ensure all personnel are following the same guidance to help prevent misunderstandings.

Check out every day examples of how an operations manual is useful for flight departments, single pilots, FBOs, and UAS/Drone operators in our full Why do you need an Operations Manual? post.

OM myths debunked

Some operators remain skeptical towards an Operations Manual, which is caused by a few common misconceptions.

An OM will make you do extra unnecessary work. While it may be true that in aviation you oftentimes have to fit your processes to a manual, the OM should be written in accordance with what your operation is already doing. What works in your operation is what goes into the manual. If your processes need to change, your OM changes along with them.

An OM will limit your operation. An OM is your core guidance, but it should always include a way to deviate from outlined procedures if necessary. If any situation requires you to sidestep company procedures, that’s OK, as long as you’re still in accordance with applicable regulations. If you find yourself deviating from the manual too often, you might have to reconsider the processes you put in place and determine the root cause of the deviation. The deviation process in your OM can help you do this. You might then implement changes and those changes would in turn be reflected in your OM.

An OM is overly complex. An OM should always reflect the complexity of your operation – that’s why it should be tailor-made to your operation. Working off a borrowed OM or a stock template is not really useful since it will likely include unnecessary procedures or miss elements unique to your operation, making the manual unhelpful.

What should be included in an OM?

While OMs can vary greatly since they are customized to an operation, there are certain elements each OM should cover. We recommend starting with these five sections:

  1. Job Descriptions and Personnel Policies – A description of the roles and responsibilities helps everyone understand what is expected of them. This section should also include company policies (e.g., alcohol consumption, fitness for duty, vacation, personnel conduct, etc.) so as to avoid ambiguity.
  2. Operating Procedures – How the operation works: aircraft, passenger, and crew scheduling; pre-flight procedures (such as planning, fueling, etc.); passenger handling procedures; aircraft SOPs, call-outs, and checklists; flight following protocols, in-flight procedures, and post-flight requirements.
  3. Emergency Procedures – This section should include basic procedures on how to handle in-flight emergencies and procedures for possible accidents and incidents. However, also consider getting a fully customized Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for your organization so your team will be prepared for any incident – in the air and on the ground.
  4. Maintenance Procedures – A description of maintenance documentation and tracking requirements, procedures, and safety programs (e.g., procedures for working alone, use of safety equipment, etc.).
  5. Training – List and describe required and recommended training for all personnel, as well training intervals.

With these five elements, you already have a solid OM to support your operation, but you should also consider including a Safety Management System (SMS). The SMS should also be customized to the size and complexity of your operation. The OM would include the various forms, processes, and components that make sense for your SMS.

Getting a customized FOM

AviationManuals makes creating a customized Operations Manual – with SMS included – really easy. Bringing together our knowledge from working with thousands of operators, combined with regulatory sources, industry best practices, IS-BAO, and more, we can work with you to build a manual that reflects the needs of your particular operation. All we need is for you to complete a simple questionnaire and provide any existing policies and procedures you may already have.  We’ll do the rest. Sounds easy right? It is. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Why You Need an Operations Manual

At the heart of your organization, an Operations Manual (OM) describes your operation and acts as the go to resource to ensure everyone on your team can operate safely and efficiently together.  Known by a variety of names such as Flight, Company or General Operations Manual, a quality OM can improve everything from streamlining processes to onboarding new employees.

An Operations Manual May Be Required

Depending on the state of registry of the aircraft and location of the primary business, an OM may be required by the relevant regulatory authorities. Additionally, even for operators that are not required to have an OM, it may still be recommended depending on areas and types of operation.  A few examples are as follows:

  • Part NCC operators – Required, regardless of number of pilots. Part NCC can also apply to single-pilot aircraft.
  • Bermuda-registered operators (OTAR Part 125) – Required, regardless of pilot count.
  • FAA-registered operators
    • Part 135 – Required
    • Part 91 – Strongly recommended
  • Operators following a third party standard (e.g., IS-BAH, AUVSI Top Certification, etc.) – Required

It Can Improve Business Efficiency and Safety

The main advantage of having an OM is that your procedures and policies are formalized and standardized by being consolidated in one manual . The OM helps ensure business continuity for yourself, when contracting personnel, making additions to the team, or even helping with staff turnover. It will always be clear to the team what’s expected of them since they can reference the manual if questions should arise. Without this standardization, two people might perform the same duty in different ways, which could lead to efficiency, or worse, safety problems. An OM can also help ensure all personnel are following the same guidance to prevent misunderstandings.

Operations Manual for Single-pilot Operators

As a single-pilot operator, it’s easier to “bend” the rules for yourself. When you are flying with someone else, the other person can tell you if you’re deviating from procedures, but when you’re alone, it’s more difficult to realize this may be happening. Having an Operations Manual (OM) can help set boundaries and encourages you to stick to the rules. An OM can become a checklist, and you can track how many times you deviate from the manual. If this happens too often, you can self-check your operation, analyze risks, and adjust what you are doing accordingly.

Every day examples:

  • Simplify Maintenance
    As a single pilot operator, it’s unlikely you would be doing your own maintenance or have an in-house team. If you are working with contract maintenance then the OM can be used to inform any Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) working on the aircraft of what you expect in terms of maintenance. This might typically be done by giving them a copy of the maintenance control system.
  • Show Commitment to Safety
    Having an OM with an SMS that is appropriate for a single pilot operation can help you demonstrate to your passengers your commitment to safety and ensuring professional standards of service.

Operations Manual for FBO Operators

Standardizing policies and procedures in one document will provide your team with a resource to use when they have questions about what is expected of them or how to perform a task. This is particularly useful if you have seasonal employees, temp/contract workers, or certain roles with higher turn-over. Standardization also encourages safety and helps maintain customer service levels since personnel will be performing tasks in a consistent way.

Every day examples:

  • Ensure Customer Service
    There are many different customers passing through an FBO on any given day. Some you may see regularly and others only once. Formalizing the expected procedures across your entire team will ensure everyone is operating the same way and in return your customers will always be getting the same experience every time they visit your facilities.
  • Establish Emergency Response
    Depending on the operation it may or may not be best to have a standalone Emergency Response Plan. For those operations where a separate ERP doesn’t make sense, the OM will commonly contain a basic Emergency Response Plan to be used when responding to a variety of emergencies. If you are wondering how Covid-19 and the pandemic response has impacted this, check out our whitepaper.
  • Streamline Training and On-boarding
    From ground personnel to administrative staff, as you bring on new employees, contractors, or move personnel from one department to another, the OM can be used as the basis for training. The manual should cover items like ground support equipment, security procedures, SMS, and both ramp and facility operations.

Operations Manual for Drone Operators

Most drone departments are either still young or likely just getting started, so it’s even more important to have a documented standard for operating to ensure improved safety. The OM will give you and your teams guidance for areas such as safety, mission operations, emergencies, training, maintenance, and security. Formalizing procedures is also advantageous when competing for contracts, since it can be used as evidence that the department is going above and beyond to ensure jobs are done safely, effectively, and to a consistent level of quality.

Every day examples:

  • Demonstrate Safety
    It is becoming more and more common that commercial drone operators prove they are operating to a minimum safety standard. An OM with SMS is a common requirement for third-party audit standards.
  • Ensure Consistency Across a Variety of Missions
    Your crews may be operating different types of missions and/or in different operating environments. Where and what they are doing may change on a rotating basis or each day. Documenting procedures for operations based on location and mission should ensure they have a preflight resource they can consult to review procedural and safety requirements.

Operations Manual for Larger Operations

Having an OM for larger operations is especially useful in getting everyone on the same page. For a large group of people, it’s easier to have standardized procedures in place, particularly when team members are rarely together in the same location. An OM also helps decrease complexity during onboarding and offboarding.

The OM can be critical when operating different aircraft types or for different types of missions, as it should contain SOPs unique to each aircraft and mission. Additionally, in cases when it is appropriate, differences in scheduling, duty times, training, and security guidance should also be outlined.  Some operators go so far as to have a separate Operating Procedures section for each aircraft or mission type so they are clearly different with little to no overlap.

Every day examples:

  • Simplify Infrequently Used Processes
    It can be hard to remember exactly what you need to do for things you don’t do regularly or only do once a year. Documenting these important processes, such as PIC upgrade requirements, crew training requirements, aircraft parts handling, etc. will give you an easy to follow checklist without having to go back and dig through past records.
  • Allow Your Team to be More Efficient
    All kinds of new situations are likely to pop-up for your team during their day-to-day. Describing procedures for specific scenarios, such as what circumstances require a FRAT or MRAT to be used, or the requirements to fly into an airport that is particularly risky, small, etc., will ensure the guidance they need is always readily available.

Getting a Customized Operations Manual

AviationManuals makes creating a customized Operations Manual – with SMS included – really easy. Bringing together our knowledge from working with thousands of operators, combined with regulatory sources, industry best practices, IS-BAO, AUVSI Top Program, and more, we can work with you to build a manual that reflects the needs of your particular operation. All we need is for you to complete a simple questionnaire and provide any existing policies and procedures you may already have.  We’ll do the rest. Sounds easy right? It is.  Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Most Common Risks Operators Face Day to Day

Quick, accurate risk identification is essential for a successful operation. While some risks may be specific to a location, flight path, or aircraft, there are many that occur regularly and can be planned for ahead of time.

Through ARCrisk, ARC’s digital Risk Assessment Tool, flight departments log thousands of risk assessments every year. We’ve taken a look at the top 10 selected risk factors flight departments are facing and how to mitigate them. How do these compare to your top 10 factors and subsequent mitigations?

Read the full article and download the guide on ARC.