Blink’s trained up
Blink has left nothing to chance when it comes to safety: brand new aircraft from Cessna, the world’s leading manufacturer of private jets; highly experienced captains recruited directly from the most successful commercial airlines; and operational directors with proven track records at the highest echelons of the aviation industry. This week the spotlight is on Graham Howard, Blink’s Chief Training Captain.
With over 16,000 hours flight time and 34 years as a British Airways Pilot – culminating as BA’s most senior 777 training captain, Graham has huge aviation experience and knowledge. He has an intimate understanding of Blink’s Citation Mustang avionics – which are in many ways more advanced that those in most modern aircraft. By conveying that to Blink’s pilot cadre, he is equipping Blink’s air taxi service to reach more than 600 airports across Europe.
Why is your role at Blink important and what are its most challenging aspects?
The competence of our pilots underpins the most important aspect of Blink’s mission statement, namely Safety and Security. My job is to ensure that all Blink pilots are competent and are able to demonstrate such competence in their respective roles.
How does your experience in the commercial aviation industry help you in this role?
My many years of experience with British Airways enable me to readily switch between the two essentials of training and facilitation: training in order to impart new knowledge, facilitation to allow the individual to develop skills and behaviours.
How rigorous are training standards at Blink?
Blink pilots undergo the same checking regime as airline pilots. In some ways the training at Blink is superior to that of a pilot in a large airline, as the emphasis is on actual flight rather than simulator testing.
In what ways does your contribution create a better experience for Blink’s customers?
Competence breeds confidence! On Blink aircraft the customer interacts directly with the Flight Crew. The knowledge and confident demeanour of Blink pilots transmits to our passengers, creating an atmosphere of warmth and security, so enhancing the travel experience.
How do the Mustang’s avionics compare with modern jet airliners?
The Mustang’s avionics compare very favourably with those of the airliners that I have flown. Are you aware that only the very latest types, such as the B777, are fitted with GPS as standard? Using GPS, the geographical position of the Mustang can be fixed to within 10 feet! Combine this with the ability to superimpose this position on a terrain map of the Earth, then add in the relative positions of other nearby aircraft and you have a very powerful tool to aid the pilot’s situational awareness.
What is your favourite Blink destination? Where do you like landing the most?
I really don’t have a favourite destination, all cities have their own unique flavour and culture. Home is the best place to land.
Why did you want to become a pilot?
The complex interface between man, machine and the environment fascinates me. I think it probably always will.
If you could fly any plane in the world, what would it be?
As I have flown many “big jets” the Mustang suits me fine.
What is the first bit of advice you give to younger pilots?
Remember what it was like when you were learning to fly.
What do you enjoy about flying that keeps you in the cockpit after 16,000 hours?
The people, the freedom, and the self reliance.
This is the first 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.