FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
Stone company sells product with King Air 350 based at private strip near quarry
Richmond-based Luck Stone expands business, saves time, makes money with on-site turboprop.
Chief Pilot & Av Mgr Scott Moore (L) and Capt Ryan Blanchard on the flightdeck of Luck Stone's Pro Line 21-equipped King Air 350.
Luck Stone flight operations are directed today by Scott Moore, a certified aviation manager (CAM) who joined the company 6 years ago after a career in the US Air Force where he flew Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) C17s. Ryan Blanchard is the company's second pilot. He came from a flight instructor airline background.
Blanchard serves as a co-captain and is also the department's safety officer. Moore and Blanchard trade the PIC role between them on a monthly basis—a procedure that Moore says helps keep them fresh and alert to avoiding bad habits.
The PIC is responsible for flight planning while the SIC preflights the aircraft. Operationally they swap legs in the left seat. Flight planning is done through fltplan.com, which Moore says has proved totally reliable.
Luck Stone uses 2 pilots on every flight. To accommodate vacations, holidays and other scheduling requirements, the company has 2 pilots it hires on a part-time basis as required. Both are captain-qualified and work full-time for other King Air 350 operators in the Richmond area.
Maintenance on Luck Stone's 350 is accomplished through Support Plus—Hawker Beechcraft's guaranteed maintenance program. Most work is done at Landmark Aviation ORF (Intl, Norfolk VA). The department uses CAMP maintenance management and inventory control software to schedule the 350's requirements.
The company has elected not to use an engine maintenance program, preferring to shoulder the operational risk to the 350's Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A engines itself.
Fueling is accomplished on site via the company's fuel farm.
Avfuel supplies the Jet A, and Moore says the fueling facility provides 80% of the 350's requirements, resulting in a cost savings of about 50% over what Luck Stone would pay if it purchased all its fuel from FBOs.
Luck Stone pilots attend annual King Air 350 recurrent training. They have trained at FlightSafety Intl and most recently at SimCom. A company requirement for the training is that it be in a simulator equipped with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, like the company's 350. "The objective is to train like we fly," Moore says.
To enhance the training and experience and make it more like actual company operations, Luck Stone insists that the simulator training include locations where the company flies routinely in order to incorporate as much realism as possible. "For example," Moore says, "we have them set us up to take off from JYO (Leesburg VA) and lose an engine going into IAD (Dulles, Washington DC), which is a route we fly routinely."
At 6-month intervals in conjunction with maintaining night currency, Moore and Blanchard fly missed approach/go-arounds, hand-flown approaches and right-seat landings.
Luck Stone's manual specifies a maximum 14-hr duty day for pilots with 10 hrs of minimum crew rest.
Pilots get 2 days off per week, but the schedule is flexible and weekend work is sometimes required. When possible, major phase maintenance on the King Air is scheduled to coincide with crew vacations.
If he were to add a pilot in a first-officer slot, Moore says he would prefer to hire a person with relatively low time—perhaps as little as 1000 hrs TT, including 100 hrs multi-engine. "We'd be looking for someone to get their foot in the door—someone we could train to fit into our system and do things our way."
Moore says that's how Blanchard came to Luck Stone, which is his first corporate job. Alternatively, if Moore were to hire a captain-level pilot, the ideal candidate would have an ATP and 2500 flight hrs with 500 in a 350.
Filling the seats
Receptionist & Scheduler Martha Gaskins uses BART scheduling software to achieve maximum passenger utilization on the King Air 350. FlightAware.com is used to track the aircraft's progress.
Scheduling is a major task at Luck Stone because the company encourages all associates to use the airplane when possible. Martha Gaskins is the scheduler and also performs a dual role as a receptionist at the company's headquarters office.
She schedules trips, books passengers, selects and communicates with FBOs, negotiates fuel prices, arranges lodging and ground transportation and tracks all flights using FlightAware.com.
Luck Stone's flight department is certified to Intl Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) standards—an achievement Moore says small flight departments should not shy away from. "Initially," he says, "we were looking to develop a new flight manual. The IS-BAO template was there and it proved to be a great standard to start with.
"Originally we thought we'd have to go with consultants," Moore explains, "but we purchased the IS-BAO kit from NBAA and went through it chapter by chapter and paragraph by paragraph saying 'What do we want to keep? What do we want to change? What do we want to delete?'
"We were able to delete a large a large portion because it didn't apply to us. Things like maintenance, which we don't do, and hazardous cargo, which we don't carry. We kept a lot of procedures and the safety management system, because it was a nice, standardized process.
We streamlined it so it would be functional for a 2-person department." Moore says having a third party come in to audit the process actually proved helpful to Luck Stone. "The benefit was having the deadline," Moore explains. "Knowing the auditor was coming made us do things we had put off in the past."
For example, he says, "We needed a fuel spill plan. It was something we'd been meaning to do for a long time. With the auditor coming, we got it done in a week."
Moore says Luck Stone's total cost to implement IS-BAO was about $2000. "We used a self-inspection kit to prepare for the audit.
It took a couple of weeks to prepare, but the benefits have been significant for us. We generated a very workable manual and we've identified a lot of safety and risk mitigation procedures and processes that have made us a better flight department."
The Luck Stone flight department reports to Mark Barth, vp of human resources. As Moore notes, this reporting structure is a carryover from when former Av Dir Jay Coffman was also vp of human resources.
Barth says he's proud that in addition to providing executive and customer transport the department carries a high percentage of Luck Stone associates. "That means 750 people have an opportunity to access this resource," Barth says. "I can't imagine it being used any better."
Luck Stone also participates in the Veterans Airlift Command program, transporting service personnel to and from sites to receive medical treatment for injuries sustained in combat. As Charles Luck IV notes, "To play a small part in supporting those folks has been very rewarding."
Mike Potts is an aviation consultant and freelance writer. He worked in corporate communications for Beech and Raytheon Aircraft between 1979 and 1997.
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