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On-the-Fly Mission Decisions Over the North Atlantic

In debriefing and reflecting on some recently completed missions, the Shepherd Aero team has been looking at the challenges that can arise without warning when operating aircraft across country borders, and the on-the-fly decisions that must be made collectively to ensure a safe conclusion to every flight.

Shepherd Aero recently brought an aircraft back from Europe to the United States via the North Atlantic, and we had planned for Bangor, Maine to clear U.S. Customs, which is a common stop for private aircraft crossing the North Atlantic due to its ideal location in the Northeast USA. However, in the descent into Bangor, our crew was directed to Burlington, Vermont by air traffic control as Bangor could not accommodate our flight. After our operations and dispatch team spent time working with the customs officer in Burlington, we found out they would not allow us to clear there due to COVID-19 restrictions, so we had to make yet another on-the-fly decision to change the destination again.

This time, it was Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, after running the flight profile, Boston was out of range for this particular leg and aircraft, so we had to re-plan AGAIN to make an overnight stop in Quebec City in Canada. There, our crew had a warm welcome from the local facilities despite our last-minute arrival. Ultimately, the extra stop in Canada was very much needed so both our crew and dispatch team could spend adequate time researching where to clear USA customs and ensure no further deviations.

Boston was still the next stop after a rest overnight in Quebec City. Once our crew finally made it to Boston, just when we thought we were in the clear, we had to deal with paying a fuel and handling bill roughly 4-5 times the cost what it would normally run in Bangor. Wow!

Despite all the challenges, the aircraft made it safely to its destination later that day, still on time AND on budget for our client.

All this to say, without Shepherd Aero’s expert team in control of this challenging mission, the end-result could have been much different. Our firm is here to make our clients’ aviation lives easier while delivering unmatched customer service.

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In-Aircraft Training During a Pandemic

“To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.”

Not even a worldwide health crisis can keep aviation from pushing forward. The team at Shepherd Aero has been airborne lately with in-aircraft training for a few of our owner-pilot clients. With proven curriculum, we are the only FAA Part 141 HondaJet pilot training course in the world. Plus, with regular COVID-19 testing of both client and instructor, we are paving the way for safe and efficient training in this new normal.

Whether looking for recurrent or initial type training, Shepherd Aero stands ready to get–or keep–you airborne. Training at your pace, in your aircraft, at your home airport. We offer courses in the Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Textron Aviation Citation Mustang and Citation 525-Series, Pilatus PC-12, and Honda Aircraft Company HondaJet.

Contact the Shepherd Aero team to get a customized in-aircraft training quote and details on what our syllabus entails.

ICAO Publishes Guidance for Continued International Aviation Operations

Here’s some good news and information for anyone operating aircraft internationally… We at Shepherd Aero are very happy to see the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) develop and release guidance on safe operation of aircraft during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As Shepherd Aero has been operating with an internally-developed COVID-19 testing and risk mitigation protocol since early April, the fact that ICAO has identified these very techniques as ways to safely operate in this current environment while reducing risk of exposure to the public further bolsters our firm’s program, and we hope to see more and more countries adopt the guidance provided by ICAO as a way to keep critical worldwide air transport operations moving forward. As the electronic bulletin states, the pandemic has “severely disrupted the global aviation network”, and that “it is critical to take into consideration appropriate risk assessments” to allow continued operations.

We highly recommend reading the bulletin and sharing with fellow international aviation authorities and operators.

NBAA recently noted the following related to ICAO’s guidance in this post:

The PHC [Public Health Corridor] concept is based on the use of “clean” crew, “clean” aircraft, “clean” airport facilities and “clean” passengers, with “clean” referring to implementing measures to ensure virus-free status, to the extent possible.

The PHC applies to operations carrying cargo, supporting maintenance activities and positioning aircraft without passengers. This includes ferrying of new and repaired aircraft and transportation of crewmembers for operational purposes.

The ICAO guidance also includes guidelines for crewmembers at airport; pre-, in- and post-flight; and during layovers, as well as a sample aircraft disinfection control record and a Crew COVID-19 Status Card.

Ten Questions to ask Your Prospective Ferry Provider

Need to get an airplane moved across the globe? Don’t entrust your multi-million dollar machine to just anyone. Consider asking these ten questions to your prospective ferry service provider. Because at Shepherd Aero, the answer to all the below will always be a “yes”.

  1. Do you provide RVSM/NAT-HLA/RNP/ADS-B LoAs?
  2. Are you a bonded importer?
  3. Is export service included?
  4. Do you have a 24/7 dispatch team?
  5. Do you offer flight following to track and support flights in real time?
  6. Is ALL fuel included or do I have to provide full on departure?
  7. Is survival equipment included?
  8. Are you insured?
  9. Are your crew members COVID-19 tested?
  10. Are your crew members provided business class flight accommodations?

Contact Shepherd Aero today to get a quick-turn quote for your ferry needs.

Shepherd Aero Still Flying

Shepherd Aero is proving private aviation does not have to stop amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Our firm has continued operations by way of an internally developed Safety Protocol for our team members, and at the heart of it is COVID-19 testing.  We have our crew members tested both prior to and post flight missions, and record of testing is kept with them at all times in a custom created booklet.

This has, in part, allowed Shepherd Aero to ferry aircraft across domestic and international borders the past 30 days and get clients’ aircraft where they are critically needed.

Further, as we have testing available for our team members AND clients, we are able to safely conduct in-aircraft jet training, meaning Shepherd Aero training clients do not have to go sit in a public-use simulator; rather, they get to train in the safety and comfort of their own aircraft.

From Global Aircraft Ferrying and Training to Trustee Services and Aircraft Management, Shepherd Aero is here to demystify aircraft ownership.
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About Shepherd Aero:

Founded in 2008, Kenmore Crew Leasing, Inc d/b/a Shepherd Aero provides bespoke international aviation logistics solutions to the broker, manufacturer, and operator segments of business aviation. The firm also offers a complement of services for aircraft owners, including Trustee, Ferry, Training, Management, and entry-into-service programs. With operating bases around the contiguous United States, Hawaii, China, India, and South Africa, Shepherd Aero resources are strategically located to serve clients anywhere on earth. | +1 360 719 5805

The North Atlantic Non-Radar Paradox for Light Jets

Travis Holland

Aug 9 is a big day for the @80days80stays around the world in a @HondaJet. Starting in Halifax, the route will take us up to Goose Bay, and then over to Narsarsuaq Greenland and then to Keflavik Iceland.

The ocean works a little differently then over land. Because there is no radar coverage across the oceans, and also no radar coverage in the entire southern half of Greenland, aircraft have to be separated by time and altitude rather than by radar observations. Instead of planes being 5 miles apart at the same altitude, they generally must be 120 miles apart in open oceanic airspace for planes not going the same direction.

For the hundreds of airliners that cross every day between 32,000 feet and 37,000 feet altitude, this means to them they might have to cross at an altitude a little lower or higher than they want, but that is the extent of their inconvenience.

The HondaJet (like most modern business jets and all light jets) wants to fly between 37,000 feet and 43,000 feet altitude, above the airline traffic. If forced to fly lower, jets consume around 50% more fuel per hour at 30,000 feet than at 40,000 feet.

Which is no problem in radar airspace. But a big problem when we want to descend into southern Greenland for fuel on our westbound trip. Because we have to be kept 120nm from any airplane at our altitude going the opposite direction, and because mid-day Greenland time coincides with the daily airline rush-hour traffic west-bound across the North Atlantic, it is practically impossible for ATC to descend you through the thicket of airplanes.

And the reason we are stopping in Greenland in the first place is because we don’t have enough fuel to hop over it, even at 43,000 feet where the best fuel economy is. This is the light jet paradox over the North Atlantic. You are stopping because you don’t have the range, and ATC realities mean you lose 1/3 of your range due to flying at such a low altitude.

So, experience is that 29,000 feet is the most common altitude to be offered for a Narsarsuaq involved (S Greenland) North Atlantic Crossing. Which reduces the useful range of most light business jets to not too much further than the 670nm distance between Goose Bay and Narsarsuaq and Keflavik. I normally push as hard as I can for minimum 31,000 feet, but only with mixed success.

Departing Greenland, where the same problem occurs, I actually have Gander Oceanic on my phone’s speed dial and call them first and negotiate, before calling the control tower to request clearance.

Very careful planning is needed to be safe on this route. A few years back a Piaggio P-180 ran out of gas flying to their alternate after finding weather at Narsarsuaq to be below landing minimums. Compounding the risk is the high mountainous terrain all around the Narsarsuaq airport, including a chunk of granite rock rising to 1100′ directly on the 3 mile final for the airport.

N108GF crash near Kangerlussuaq — AIB Denmark

For our flight, we have an alternate route planned, via northern Greenland where there is one airport with radar, so desents/climbs from high to low altitude is possible. Kangerlussuaq (know as Sondrestrom or Sondy) is a few hundred miles out of the way, but if the weather is not fantastic at Narsarsuaq before we leave Goose Bay, we will accept the 30 minutes extra flying time and go via a northern route.

The southern route across the North Atlantic is particularly hazardous to light jets because of the unwritten ATC procedure to not clear aircraft stopping in Greenland to normal light jet altitudes. The risk can be mitigated, but easy to stumble into disaster if not mitigated effectively.
Fly safe everyone!

10 Things to Take on a Trip Around the World

Travis Holland

Although we spend a lot of time on the road at Shepherd Aero, this is a longer than normal trip, @80days80stays. Correct, this isn’t just any trip, but a private jet adventure in the brand new @HondaJet with a very advanced light aircraft perfect for adventure touring.

With the support of @HondaJet and @80days80stays we get to tag along and help make sure everything goes smooth.

Not even mentioned are the basics like eye-shades, travel pillows, international power plugs, worldwide phone plan on your mobile, travel wallet, and laptop and/or modern tablet for computing. In support of a trip around the world, here are a few extra things we are bringing in our flight-bag…

1. USB charging hub – good for up to 5 devices extra fast, this is a life-saver in the hotel and also useful in the @HondaJet with it’s AC power outlets on board. Charge-hub is our favorite.

Enough charging power for everything and the kitchen sink. OK, not the sink

2. Lots of cables and spare batteries – got to pack them safely, but cannot go wrong with plenty of Re-trak cables and a few small universal batteries to charge devices we forgot to charge on-board the aircraft.

3. Second passport – a trip around the world requires a few visas, some of which only get issued for a few days duration. So have to have a spare to send out for visas issued down the road a couple weeks.

4. Battery powered printer. This will print flight plans, weather briefings, even rental car confirmation or letters for signature in blue ink. 5lb of bulk, but invaluable when needed. We use the Canon ip110 in our bag. Spare printer paper, printer cartridges, SD card reader. Printer is no good without means to use it in a pinch.

Printer and spare cartridges and goodies

5. Extra bag of documents. Separate from the main identity documents, and even from the second passport, is a pouch with an expired passport, my APEC Business Traveler and NEXUS identity cards, and a previous drivers license. The combination of these is a backup plan for a bad day in the field.

6. Extra bag of little money. Near the extra bag of documents is $20-$100 worth of local currency from a dozen countries. Not enough money to do too much, but money for a coffee or a taxi fare can be a godsend sometimes in foreign countries.

7. Bag of backup credit cards. Credit cards get cancelled on the road way too often. ATMs eat debit cards. So a couple spare company cards, a couple spare personal cards are must-haves for a long trip away from home.

8. Health insurance credentials. Not only do these have important phone numbers to call in an emergency on the back, the card itself sometimes helps with entry requirements in countries you might not even be able to locate on a map.

9. Bag with instant breakfast cereal. Sometimes late at night, sometimes in the morning a little instant breakfast from home brings comfort in the field.

10. Swag! We cannot bring enough microfibers, pens, hats, hand-warmers, and stickers to a trip of this duration. We want to give something to all of the hundreds of folks that will help make this trip a success, and it becomes a challenge to carry enough stuff in our bags. Rest assured we are bringing a pile. 🙂