Keeping ground operations in order
As Europe’s first air taxi operator, Blink manages the largest fleet of Cessna Mustangs anywhere in the industry. Every day, Blink may have a dozen separate flights to plan, file, crew, operate, and monitor. The challenge of keeping pilots, regulators, and not least customers happy throughout every day is complicated because Blink flies to no schedule save that of our passengers. At any minute, 24/7, Blink ground operations needs to be prepared for new requests. Lately the job just got trickier, with Eyjafjallajoekull’s ash cloud unpredictably closing large parts of European air space.
Stephen Pickering, Blink’s Ground Operations Manager, manages this hot spot and tells us more below:
Good morning Stephen, tell us how you came to be with Blink
My career has been forged at the other end of the aviation spectrum, at British Airways, where I spent 30 years in positions spanning sales, terminal operations, safety auditing and operations control. Blink has given me the opportunity to lend this experience to a game changer in the private jet industry.
How does your job at Blink compare to that at British Airways?
Blink and BA could not be further apart in terms of size and scale, and the culture of a multinational organization is a million miles from the entrepreneurial camaraderie at Blink. But we’re still in aviation, and I’m still running ground operations – many of the same rules and challenges remain the same.
What are the job’s biggest challenges and how have you addressed them?
Blink set out 2 years ago to change the rules that have established what can and cannot be done in private aviation. From an operational point of view, that means managing a single aircraft type fleet, showing for the first time what very light jets can do across an unprecedentedly extensive network of airports.
The biggest challenge is also the major motivating force: how to build a reputation for reliability and professionalism around a brand new operation. We’ve gone about that by creating a team that combines aviation experience and a passion for achieving our business vision – an air taxi service for European short haul travel.
And is there time to enjoy life outside Blink?
We’re a 24/7 operation but we’re a close team and it’s a work hard play hard culture. Not that I have a choice – I have two young sons ready and waiting for action the moment I leave the office!
The Interview is the third in a series of interviews with key members of the Blink team. If you have have a question that you would like to ask a member of our team, please contact us.