I am the operations manager for DragonFly Executive Air Charter. I have worked for the company for almost five years, initially as an ops assistant and for over four years as operations manager.
I am principally responsible for booking charters that we undertake throughout the UK and Europe, and am in day-to-day charge of operations. The position includes quoting, booking and scheduling private charter flights and all that is involved with such flights, such as arranging landing and handling at destination airports, finding crew accommodation down-route, supervising the provision of on-board catering and dealing with any specific requirements such as surface transport for passengers.
It is a very varied role, and as DragonFly is a relatively small company, operating three Beech King Air 200 / B200 turboprop aircraft, some of the duties I undertake, such as flight planning and the invoicing of the charters, overlap with those of flight crew and accounts. When flights are booked, I allocate crew from the duty roster for which I am also responsible.
In carrying out my role I am assisted by a full-time ops assistant. I liaise closely with the base captain, who is primarily responsible for the aircraft, in order to arrange scheduled maintenance of the aircraft and work with our training captain to ensure aircraft availability for initial and recurrent flight crew training.
We always fly the King Air with two fully type-rated crew and the first officers are also required to be conversant with ops and to assist with flight preparations when necessary, subject to their other duties.
The job is a 24-hour role, shared between myself and the ops team. The office is manned between the hours of 0900 and 1730 weekdays, and an on-call mobile is manned 24/7 out of office hours, I am responsible for organising urgent medical transplant flights carrying either medical teams or unaccompanied organs.
The majority of these charters take place during the late evening or early hours and there is a great satisfaction from knowing that the team's efforts are helping to improve or save the life of someone else. The majority of the charters we undertake originate from charter brokers, although we also have a number of regular clients who book flights directly with us. Our clients comprise business men, high net worth individuals and showbiz and sporting celebrities, many of whom are household names. The message we are always keen to get across is that private air travel is not the exclusive province of the rich and famous but is a cost-effective business tool for all those who value their time and wish to avoid the delay and hassle of traveling by other means.
One of the biggest challenges we face occurs on the fortunately rare occasions when an aircraft "goes tech". Our primary concern is to not let the client down and we do everything we can either by deploying another aircraft from our fleet, or sub-chartering another operator, in order to complete the charter. Our operations team urgently notify crew, change landing and handling requests for the replacement aircraft, organise flight plans and liaise with the brokers, aiming to minimise delay and disappointment to the client, and get the replacement aircraft to the destination as quickly as possible.
One of the most satisfying parts of the job is when a charter has been completed and I receive a thank you from the client or broker for a job well done. Knowing that we have provided a good service from the initial phone call through to the conclusion of the charter – the quote, the paperwork, the flight, to the aircraft landing back at base – and that the effort we have all put in is appreciated, is most satisfying. I also get a great buzz from the commercial side of the business, by setting targets for hours flown, charters booked or revenue achieved and assisting and encouraging the team to achieve those targets.
Having had other jobs in varied accounting roles, I initially took this job as a change, without any prior experience in the aviation industry, and have never looked back! I accepted very early on that it is more than a nine-to-five role, and embraced it. I progressed rapidly within the company, moving up from operations assistant to operations manager. It is more than a job to me and I love it! I definitely would recommend it to others but only to those who possess the commitment and flexibility and skills to deal with the challenges that arise in this demanding but highly satisfying business.
– Tracy Evans, operations manager, DragonFly Executive Air Charter