FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
Ceramica Cleopatra Group prepares for more Gulfstreams, Cirrus Vision SJ50s
Cairo-based industrial conglomerate operates Gulfstream G550 to promote ceramic tile, citrus fruit, hotel and media investments.
Maintenance Technician Thomas Driscoll checks G550 nosegear at GVA. Driscoll helps Dir of Maintenance Kemp support the G550 at CAI and the newly acquired Cirrus SR22 at HEOC (Oct 6 City, Egypt).
"Ideally we should have 3 full-time pilots on rotation schedules to back up Mohamed," suggests Koncilia. "European-based FAA-qualified G550 captains, working 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, or North American-based crews, working one month on and one month off, would work very well.
For the time being, however, we have access to 10 or so captain qualified G550 pilots who we can bring in for relief or to help fly maintenance flights." Safety of operations is of paramount importance to Koncilia.
"When I first arrived here I established operating procedures, including CRM practices," he says. "Mohamed and I train together annually at FlightSafety Intl and we always stick to checklists and procedures.
Mohamed is an experienced, focused pilot who takes flight duty seriously." Hiring qualifications for a new Group Cleopatra captain, says Koncilia, include a minimum of 8000 hrs TT as well as enough adaptability to live in Egypt and fly with an owner pilot.
With typical ops including constant global travel and occasionally dropping in at very remote third-tier international airfields, experience in the flightdeck, and a compatible personality, are essential attributes for new-hires.
Koncilia says, "Pilot benefits include high pay scales, company provided housing, car, maid and driver. Compensation is so attractive here that contract G550 pilots from the world over clamor for the chance to fly with Group Cleopatra when the opportunity comes up."
He adds, "Flying with an owner can put special demands on a pilot and some pilots just cannot seem to cope with it," says Koncilia. "You need a certain personality and the chemistry must be there.
It's important to be able to relate together outside the aircraft before flying together in the flightdeck." In this flight department the owner and crew often spend time together on the road, staying in the same hotels and having meals together, and perhaps attending yachting or motor racing events at destinations.
Thinking and acting on a very large scale has always paid off for Mohamed. As Group Cleopatra's industrial empire continues to evolve new opportunities will surface for both company pilots and the population of Egypt in general. Creating Italian-design ceramic tiles, with Egyptian craftsmanship, has given thousands of local workers valuable advanced technical skills.
Dir of Maintenance Roy Kemp joined the flight dept in Jul 2008.
Group Cleopatra agricultural activities in southern Egypt, which involve diverting water from the Nile to irrigate vast areas of former desert, will support a future population of almost 500,000 in the region.
"We've brought equipment and people into the desert and built entire infrastructures with 4-lane highways, electricity, water and runways to support new developments," says Mohamed. "In the process we've become masters of blending international know-how with the richness of local resources and skills of the Egyptian people.
Today, we continue to explore new business horizons and our corporate flight department will evolve to keep pace." For Group Cleopatra pilots future flying prospects have never been more exciting.
Plank, who looks forward to advancing to captain on the G550, does not regret leaving the flightdeck of a CJ1 behind for a truly global flying career. "I love to fly," she says. "It's a very exciting lifestyle we have here and never boring."
And for Group Cleopatra's chairman the future is exciting too. With 2 new Cirrus jets on order there may be an opportunity for the chairman to once again fly between the great pyramids of Giza-perhaps with occasional tight circling turns around the Great Sphinx. After all, corporate aviation is not just about enhanced productivity-it's also about enjoying life and the journey.
Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.