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Best of the Best 2002: Aircraft: Best Flight Services

Safety Behind the Scenes

Recently, a TAG Aviation charter flight was in line at an airport for deicing. The airport crew sprayed fluid onto the jet just before takeoff. However, the deicing fluid swept across the nose and over the windshield, fogging the windscreen and hindering the pilots’ view.

The flight was never in danger, but the pilots, who did not want their colleagues to undergo a similar experience, filed a report with Dave Huntzinger, TAG’s director of safety and security, and he immediately initiated a new process for deicing the company’s jets. “Our emphasis is not on the individual, but on the procedures that the individual uses,” says Huntzinger. “We want to perfect those procedures. Known procedures produce known outcomes.”

TAG, which specializes in charter and fractional sales of business jets (the company currently operates 126 planes in the United States), is taking a new approach to flight safety. Pilots and crews are encouraged to report concerns, procedural uncertainties, or incidents—anonymously, if they choose—to make flights safer.

According to Chuck McLeran, TAG’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, one plane took off with several thousand pounds of excess fuel because of a system malfunction. The flight was not affected, but the problem was reported, and the crews of the five other planes with the same fuel system were notified.

For all the work that TAG does to make flights safer, its efforts are invisible once you board one of its planes—and that’s exactly what the company wants. “All this is completely [invisible] to individuals,” says Huntzinger. “They have no idea this is taking place.”

TAG Aviation, 650.341.1717, www.tagaviation.com

More Options

In one day earlier this year, Flight Options, the fractional business jet program, grew by more than 100 percent. On March 21, the Ohio company merged with Raytheon Travel Air, increasing its fleet from 95 planes to more than 200 jets and becoming the world’s second-largest fractional jet company.

Before the merger, Flight Options offered only pre-owned jets, including the Gulfstream IV and the Dassault Falcon 50EX, for corporate fliers. Now you can purchase shares in a new Raytheon Hawker 800XP or Raytheon Beechjet 400A. “Our customers are looking for more options and value,” says Heather Dynes, Flight Options director of marketing. “We’re offering new aircraft in addition to pre-owned, so this will continue the value that we offer.”

Flight Options’ fleet will also continue to grow. In 2004, the company will take delivery of 25 Fairchild-Dornier Envoy 7 jets, a new long-range jet that can carry as many as 18 passengers. After all, many fliers prefer new planes to pre-owned models. “There is a substantial market of prospects that will only acquire and fly in new aircraft,” says Kenn Ricci, Flight Options chairman and CEO. “With the combination of Travel Air, we have the desired product offerings.”

Flight Options, 216.261.3880 or 877.703.2348, www.flightoptions.com

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