FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE

Kimberly-Clark sells paper products with big planes

From Kleenex and Kotex to Huggies and Depends, K-C has you covered from nose to tail.




Like all ATW-based Kimberly-Clark pilots, Senior Captains Paul Votava (L) and Steve Weiss are dual-qualified on the GV and Citation Sovereign.

Up until the middle of last year, Kimberly-Clark had maintained flight operations at PDK (DeKalb–Peachtree, Atlanta GA), but the transportation requirements of these businesses are now supported primarily from ATW.

Kimberly-Clark uses its flight department for both executive travel and to transport teams of employees to visit mill sites and customers. Nearly 2000 company employees have traveled on the department's aircraft over the past 2 years.

LuAnn Zimmerman is the aircraft coordinator/scheduler for the department. She joined Kimberly-Clark over 20 years ago as an executive assistant. Part of her job involved initiating travel requests for senior executives.

In doing that work, she decided that the aviation scheduler's job looked interesting. When the previous scheduler retired, Zimmerman applied for the opening and in Mar 2010 was selected as the new coordinator/scheduler.

Within 2 months of her appointment she implemented a new electronic scheduling system—Professional Flight Management (PFM)—which, Ideus says, transformed how the department operates. He adds, "We became much more efficient in coordinating passenger requirements with our aircraft capacity."

Zimmerman continues to serve as the primary liaison between Kimberly-Clark's administrative assistants at all locations, taking travel requests and arranging the logistics for trips for both ATW and DAL-based aircraft and crews.

A trip is generated as an online reservation in the PFM system, where it arrives in the scheduler's inbox. The trip is then put on the schedule and a crew assigned. At the completion of all flights, Zimmerman assembles and coordinates the records and pays the bills.

Aircraft Coordinator/Scheduler LuAnn Zimmerman arranges trips for aircraft and crews at both ATW and DAL. She was instrumental in implementing the flight department's electronic scheduling system.

Whenever a company aircraft can't fulfill a trip, Zimmerman arranges a charter using a list of preapproved operators.

To qualify, charter operators must be rated at Wyvern Wingman or ARG/US Platinum status and meet additional insurance, crew training and maintenance requirements. Ideus says Kimberly-Clark uses supplemental lift more frequently than it did in the past.

Kimberly-Clark pilots typically fly 300–350 hrs per year. A normal pilot work week involves 2–4 days of flying, although an international trip could last up to 7 days. The maximum duty day is 14 hrs, followed by a 12-hr rest period. On light flying weeks pilots perform office-related tasks that keep the department running smoothly.

Each pilot is assigned a specific task, ranging from scheduling, maintaining IS-BAO, European Union Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) record keeping, or the emer­­gency response plan (ERP). "Every pilot has an assignment beyond flying," Ideus says.

As in many corporate flight departments, particularly in companies that are expanding overseas, activity can vary greatly with international and domestic travel. "No 2 weeks are the same," Ideus says. "Many domestic trips are out and back in a day, but the growth for Kimberly-Clark today is in emerging markets worldwide."

Pilot turnover is low. "It's been quite a while since we've added a pilot," Ideus says.

"Today, if we had an opening, we'd require about 5000 flight hours, with an emphasis on turbine time and international experience. One important element would be how well the candidate would fit into our culture. Gulfstream experience would be nice, but when it comes to flying a particular jet, that can be taught. The cultural element is just as important."

New Kimberly-Clark pilots would attend FlightSafety Intl for training. Recurrent flight training is conducted twice a year, with the ATW pilots alternating between Cessna and Gulfstream training. The DAL pilots, who are not dual-rated, attend Gulfstream training twice annually.

Chief of Maintenance Scott Stewart (L) and Aviation Maintenance Mgr Robert Casper test circuits in the electrical panel of one of Kimberly-Clark's Gulfstream Vs.

The department operates to the requirements of a detailed ops manual, which complies with the latest IS-BAO requirements. It also maintains an ERP—a document Ideus hopes never to put to the test.

To help ensure safe operations, the department maintains an extensive safety management system (SMS), which was implemented and is maintained by DAL-based pilots Mick Westbrook and Don Trekell.

Westbrook was named the department's safety officer about 5 years ago, while Trekell is the lead senior captain at DAL and supervises the operation there.

Trekell says there was significant incentive to develop an SMS tailored specifically to the flight department. "As a manufacturing organization that operates mills, our company is big into safety management systems.

In fact, every department is required to have one. So we elected to be proactive and develop an SMS tailored to a flight department rather than trying to fit ourselves into a manufacturing safety management system. This allowed us to accomplish the company's goals and also end up with a tool that enhances our flight operation."

Trekell says he and Westbrook set out initially to create the SMS themselves, then considered using an outside vendor. In the end they went back to doing it themselves, with Trekell doing much of the writing along with ATW-based Senior Capt Bob Zimmerman (who is no relation to LuAnn).

"If I were starting today I'd tie in with a provider," Westbrook says. "But you need to select somebody you know who understands your operation and is willing to invest the time to tailor it specifically to you. Don't ask for a turnkey system—the template you get is built for an air carrier type operation.

If you can't pare it down, it will never work for you."
Trekell says that, while developing the SMS was a lot of work, it provides definite benefits. "It's opened up a lot of good lines of communications, and it has definitely enhanced the safety of our operations."

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