A Different Viewpoint

By Michael France, NATA Director of Regulatory Affairs

I began my career in aviation working on the ramp at a mid-size FBO in the Washington D.C. suburbs. As an individual who had always been fascinated with airplanes and aviation (I used to beg my father every weekend to take me to Dulles Airport to watch the planes take off), I knew I had found my home. Within just a few months, I found myself promoted to a supervisory position; and within two years, I was running the line service department. Soon after becoming the line services manager, my company sent me to an NATA Line Service Supervisor Training Seminar. Up to that point, my entire career in aviation had been based at one airport with one company, creating a rather limited viewpoint on the breadth of our industry.

The first day of the seminar was eye opening (I think that’s the way most people describe their first reaction to hearing Walter Chartrand speak. Don’t worry Walter, I mean that in a good way!). Even before the first speaker had said a word, I learned more about the nature of FBO operations around the nation than I had ever known. I spoke with line managers, supervisors and operations managers from FBOs and corporate flight facilities around the nation. For the first time, I was able to view my own company almost as the owner did, and it forever changed my outlook and my approach to my job. I went home focused on making my company successful but also understanding far more about the industry of which I was a part. I now had contacts who worked at other companies with whom I spoke regularly, giving me the opportunity to learn from their challenges and successes, and they from mine. It was during that first seminar that I made the decision that general aviation and FBO operations were more than just an industry, they were my industry.

Next month, NATA will host our third annual Spring Training event. Spring Training is a combination of three independent seminars in one location: the Line Service Supervisors Training Seminar, the Safety 1st Trainer Seminar and the Environmental Compliance Seminar. All three provide tremendous innate value for attendees, but I wanted to use this blog to see them from a different vantage point, that of the supervisor or manager you might be sending. My experience has shown me that FBOs (especially small or mid size) tend to be built around a few key dedicated staff members who love what they do. Cultivating that attitude and allowing it to grow can be one of the best means of motivating those individuals. NATA Spring Training provides the opportunity for key staff members to see their own importance in your business as well as in the industry at large. Equipping your most valuable employees with a sense of empowerment as well as importance is, in my opinion, one of the greatest, but maybe least considered, values of training events like NATA’s Spring Training.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a presenter again this year at Spring Training and I look forward to the opportunity to meet your company’s valued staff!

For more information on Spring Training Week, please visit www.nata.aero/springtraining.

Visit or return to NATA site: www.nata.aero

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