Long range ops: Security issues in Afghanistan highlight the important role of ExecuJet’s cabin crew
August 2, 2012:
"The most distant trip I have done was from Fortaleza, Brazil, to Matsapa, Swaziland. It was an 11.5 hour flight with take off at night and landing early in the morning, a true red eye.
Where do I start with difficult trips? Doing worldwide operations we often end up at places that could be very challenging from every aspect of operation. With ExecuJet Middle East I have operated from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, DR Congo, etc.
One of the most memorable flights was from Jaipur, India, to Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Considering security warnings about travel into the region, ExecuJet Middle East took precautions to provide armed security for crew transportation to the hotel. Arriving at the airport that night I found out that the security was not adequate to provide safe passage to the city. Luckily we only had to spend 12 hours for crew rest and ferry back to Dubai. The crew decided to stay on the aircraft and the pilots slept in the forward cabin and the flight attendant slept in the aft cabin – I am sure she was grateful not to listen the whole night to pilots snoring!
On one trip to Kabul and Mazhar-i-Sharif we had a European foreign affairs minister and delegation onboard. Because of the security situation in Afghanistan the company decided that no cabin attendant would be on the flight and that the aircraft could not stay on the ground for more than one hour, so we had to stay at Islamabad overnight. During the flight we pilots tried to provide limited passenger service and this was the time when I realised how difficult a job our cabin attendants do. I returned to the cockpit at top of descent leaving every drawer in the galley full of dirty plates, cups and cutlery. I was so grateful the flight was ending because there were no more clean glasses.
Another funny memory from Mazhar-i-Sharif was of the controller in the tower whose English was below every standard. Luckily it was a clear day so we could fly VFR approaching the airport. Unable to communicate properly, the only thing we understood at the end was “clear to land”. After us was a UN aircraft waiting to land with a young European first officer doing radio work. We were in the cockpit listening to the FO and tower not understanding each other. Finally, the FO got so upset and almost yelled at the controller: “You are the tower controller and you must speak English to us so we can understand.” The poor controller kept yelling back: “But I am, but I am.” Afterwards we met the controller and I managed to ask him where he learned to speak English. He said “Moscow, 1983.”
ExecuJet Middle East does all dispatch and flight planning. Our company has developed good connections with regional authorities that enable us to get permits quickly. I am very proud of our dispatch department that gives excellent service. Due to our clients’ last minute schedules, we often call dispatch early hours with quite demanding and challenging schedules.
For us almost every flight is long range. From Middle East to Europe we are looking at six to seven hour flights on a regular basis. We have seen a significant increase in the Russian market where most flights are to Indian Ocean hot spots (Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius). Also with Russian clients the Far East is popular to destinations like Thailand, Indonesia etc. Flights from the Middle East to US are quite rare due to an inability to make direct flights from KSA, UAE, Qatar to any US cities. Due to fuel stop requirements clients mostly take airline direct flights. For example, the owner of the aircraft that I am flying on now has plans this year to operate regularly from Middle East to the US since his business interest has expanded to the US. It all depends on the client.
It is great to see a growing market again and more additions to our client list and aircraft fleet. ExecuJet Middle East most probably will add more Global Express and hopefully next year our first Global 6000. There are indications that the company will add another large jet – A318 or BBJ – in addition to the Embraer Lineage which is already available for charter." ?i?Darijo Napica, commander/ aircraft account manager at ExecuJet Middle East
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