Paul (Project Manager, FOS) and Emma (Assistant Project Manager, FOS) are the powerhouse behind Six West’s Flight Operations Solutions department. Under the direction of COO Matthew Gee, they oversee a range of services that support aircraft lessors and/or airlines with flight operational needs during lease transitions, deliveries, and distressed recovery operations.
They took some time out of their busy schedules to talk about what they love about the career path they’ve chosen and the challenges that sometimes arise during a mission.
PC: How important are client relationships in this field?
Client relationships based on trust are central to our overall business success. Every time we work on a ferry or a demonstration flight, we’re being entrusted with an asset worth millions of dollars so it’s imperative that our clients feel that they can count on our guidance and advice on how best to achieve their objectives.
We are extremely flexible with our clients – they know that they can reach us 24/7/365 and can ask us any flight operations questions, whatever they may be.
Our approach is testament to the repeat business we receive and this motivates us to stick to the high standards that our clients have grown accustomed to.
PC: What’s your favourite part of the job?
There are many aspects that I love about my job so it’s difficult to choose a favourite. I love the variation from one day to the next and I really enjoy meeting and collaborating with our clients. They share some interesting stories and offer good insight into the overall industry.
I’m looking forward to conferences and networking events revving up again. I like catching up with clients, suppliers and meeting new people at the leading aviation conferences held all over the world.
Interacting with our global suppliers allows me to engage with other cultures and, last but not least, it’s extremely rewarding when a large-scale project is completed successfully.
PC: What are some of the unexpected challenges that can arise during a FOS mission?
Anything can happen during a FOS mission and this is especially true this year. Due to the border closures brought about by COVID-19, we had to find innovate ways to operate ferries in parts of the world that essentially were closed to foreign nationals and airlines. Our ability to think out of the box was indeed put to the test.
We have to be prepared to work odd hours as a ferry mission is typically spread over multiple countries with different time zones. This can lead to 4am phone calls sometimes! Communication challenges also occur from time to time as we deal with people from different cultures. I’ve learnt that asking the right questions in a tactful manner is a skill that can go a long way in this line of work.
EB: Could you describe a day in the life of a Flight Operations Services professional?
Like Paul mentioned, every single day is different and no two days are the same. It all depends on the clients and projects we are working on. We may have to adjust our working hours depending on what region we are working in and we constantly have to manage coordination between colleagues, pilots and technical representatives to make sure projects remain on track.
EB: Was FOS affected by remote working due to COVID-19?
So far, we have been very lucky. We don’t have a typical 9 to 5 working day as the world of flight operations is 24/7/365 and prior to the pandemic, we had been working remotely once or twice a week already. For the most part, it was business as usual for us.
Despite being accustomed to working remotely, I did find it difficult not seeing my colleagues in the office, but we keep in touch everyday by phone and video call.
EB: What services fall under FOS?
We carry out a multitude of services that support the lessor or the airline with their flight operational needs during lease transitions, deliveries, and distressed recovery operations. Some of these services include ferry flights, demonstration flights, observations, consultancy and aircraft operational planning and support.