Our pilots are required to participate in a minimum of 36 hours of “indoc training” to familiarize them with the General Operating Manual of the company. This is how we are approved to do business and extend and interpret the regulations of CFR 135. Our “GOM” is eight chapters and the last is probably the most important: “Operation Specifications” which is how we are approved under the regulations to legally fly charter. Much of this is straight out of Part 135 with our particular procedures delineated so everyone’s role and responsibilities are laid our clearly. Some parts are amazingly similar to GA flying, e.g. 91.175 and 135.225 are almost the same.
The overriding concept to master in CFR 135 seems to be “operational control.” When conducting a flight under CFR 91 a General Aviation pilot is in charge of everything. We plan, dispatch and terminate a flight at our own calling. When flying under CFR 135, the Director of Operations builds the flight and engages the players. The PIC is obviously a key player, flying the plane, but not last word. The interplay between maintenance, pilot, weather is orchestrated, monitored and tuned to create a safe and efficient flight. We fly under very specific operation specifications that define roles and procedures. “The regulations specify, the GOM modifies, and the op. specs. authorize” is a mantra we have recited numerous times mastering this pile of paper. Today I passed my last test and was signed off as completing initial indoc training.
There was some great camaraderie embedded together for 36 hours of powerpoint (deadly) and discussion! There is also lots quizzing to see if you are retaining the material. There was a good mix of “been there, done that” pilots in recurrent and “newbies” like me. What I very much enjoyed is that much of CFR 135 is the very important “extras” we apply to flying in the Part 91 recreational flying world to make it safer…the briefings and double checks, flight following and maintenance sign-offs. When we conduct a careful recreational flight full up with briefings and intense effort, we approach the level of detail in CFR 135. This is however regulatory and a more carefully orchestrated system of compliance and safety checking with very specific requirements.
One very nice treat for me midway through training was getting some time with the PC-12NG I will be training on next week. This plane was in KSYR for a charter and the owner and pilot took me through the beast. What an awesome machine. We apparently fly four of these in different configurations all over the NE and as far west as Denver. Also, on Friday we got the very good news that three more of our pilots were approved by the FAA, one in a PC-12NG and two our Lear 60s. Onward to Dallas.
BTW, this was waiting for me up in SYR as I arrived at the FBO and got the shuttle over to the airline terminal. The people here seem to be very competent and caring. Like all pilots I am an achievement junkie. It’s always nice to see some progress in the right direction.