REACH Newsletter
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Safety

A View From the Crew

Safety
My team is responsible for the in-service of the aircraft and its continued airworthiness on a day-to-day basis. We also maintain the clinical equipment, and we meet with the pilots each day. We keep a very strict inventory of our parts to make sure we have the parts we need at any given time. It’s a crapshoot—what’s gonna break next? Inventory costs money, and we have to be smart enough to know what the aircraft is susceptible to and base our inventory on that knowledge.

Jeff Cone

Name, Title & Location

  • Jeff Cone
  • Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT 2)
  • Reach 8, Corvallis, Oregon

As a child, Jeff wanted to be…

I knew I wanted to be in aviation. I grew up in a little Podunk town in Ohio, outside Toledo. We were in the flight path of the airport, and I would see the planes fly overhead. I mean every kid wants to be a pilot, right? I think I was born to be in aviation. I just turned 40, and I have 22 years in as an aircraft mechanic.

How did Jeff get here from there?

In high school, I took the ASVAB test (a multiple-aptitude test that helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military) and was told, ‘You should be an aircraft mechanic.’ I could have graduated early, but my school received funding based on the number of students enrolled. So they found this vocational junior college at the Toledo airport, and I enrolled in the aircraft mechanics program at the age of 16. Because I was still in high school, I deferred my graduation by one year to complete this college education, and the state of Ohio paid for it. That was a $25,000 education.

I’ve been with REACH for 6½ years. Coming to REACH was one of the best choices I ever made. It’s a constant learning experience. I knew nothing about helicopters. I was managing and maintaining two corporate aircraft in Corvallis. Josh Kallstrom told me REACH needed part-time mechanics, and he took the time to familiarize me with the aircraft. About a year and a half later, a full-time position opened up, and I just snatched it up!

Jeff on safety

Fatigue is the latest topic. One Sunday not too long ago, I came in and we had some scheduled maintenance items that were due. I took care of those. While I was doing the inspection, I noticed that some backlighting was not operating. Mind you, I showed up at 7am—it’s now 3pm—and now I’ve found a problem that cannot go unresolved because it means the aircraft is grounded. I worked till the eleventh hour, and I found the one wire that was causing the problem. Jerry Sinnaeve could see what was happening to me, he could see the fatigue setting in. But I already had so much torn apart that I didn’t want to stop. Andy Donavaro is very adamant about no more than 12 hours a day. Jerry just looked at me and called it. He said, ‘Hey, you’re a pumpkin. Call it a day.’ I thought it was so great that he could do that. When I think about safety, I think about that moment. It was time to stop, to come back with fresh eyes, with the ability to think clearly.

What do you like most about your job?

Troubleshooting. I really love solving problems. I spent four hours troubleshooting that Sunday job, and I isolated it down to one single wire. Of all the wires in the aircraft, in all the systems, I found it.

In line maintenance, I love that every day it’s something different. I’ve worked the other side, inspections. Being an inspector is more mundane and routine.

What’s the most challenging part of Jeff’s job?

Honestly, I have to say that sometimes I think we don’t fully understand the level of individual talent that’s here. I wish we could truly dissect each individual and use them for their best talents. I think the solution is connecting with individuals. And if Andy’s ideas and personality are infectious, the Maintenance Department will be extremely successful. We’ve got the right guy at the helm. He has the right mindset. He gets to know each person, and he pays attention to the details. It boosts morale. He’s made my job so much easier.

As for the most challenging thing in general, I’d say electrical troubleshooting is probably the most difficult thing for most technicians to understand and process.

Who does Jeff live with?

  • Wife: Kara (My wife Kara is my life. She’s my best friend. I couldn’t be without her.)
  • Cats: Tiger Lily (12? I’ve been with my wife for 10 years. We’ve been married for 7½ years. But for some reason, we can’t figure out Tiger Lily’s age.)
  • Mogull (10. He’s a polydactyl, too.)
  • We’re going to transition into a dog eventually. At one time we had four cats. My wife adopted a 24-pound Himalayan once. Her name was MooMoo. We had to have steps put in so she could get onto the couch.

Jeff shares a surprising personal factoid

  • When I come home, I’m a totally different person. I’m a huge softie.
  • I’m an amazing cook. The guys can’t believe I can swing a wrench and come home and cook the things I cook. Cooking is my sanctuary. My favorite dish is lamb.
  • I like music, too. My top three are Mike Ness, Billy Currington and…I’m kind of an REM geek. Music is mood.

How does Jeff feel about the company?

  • I really appreciate that we’ve maintained the REACH culture. Also, in the past, I’ve worked where there’s a repair station mentality. You fix it, you get it done. It’s not like that here.
  • As far as REACH employees, if you weren’t good at what you do, you wouldn’t be here. Personality is what makes the core of REACH, but talent is what makes it shine.

Fatigue…

We are working in an environment that is a perfect recipe for fatigue. As an air ambulance provider, 24/7, 365 days a year, we all know that the phone can ring at any time and that same phone can ring all day. We all need to be alert to the risks and dangers involved with work place fatigue. An important step in dealing with workplace fatigue is to develop a basic awareness and implement steps to correct it.

Increased awareness of fatigue will lead to a way of measuring the impacts and effects it has on each of us. Fatigue Risk Management Systems are put in place in aviation and other industrial work environments. FRMS should be designed specifically for each operation. This is not a “cookie cutter” format to be used by multiple agencies. An effective Fatigue Risk Management System requires input from everyone involved. Once implemented, improvements in employee safety, personal wellness and health as well as reduced costs from incidents will be able to be tracked and measured by comparison. Taking personal responsibility for the problem, and using the FRMS properly should reduce work place fatigue. It is your individual efforts that will make a difference overall on the success of the FRMS.

Certain things have already been put in place to maintain our level of fatigue to acceptable, like duty time limits, work schedule, crew safety naps. Proper sleep patterns, diet, and physical exercise are key items that will help mitigate fatigue. Education on how an FRMS is to used must motivate employees to modify any poor personal choices made at work and at home.

It’s also a good idea for all employees to read and understand the company SOP on Crew Fatigue Mitigation. This information can be found in Part 3 of the Standard Operating Procedures under the general section. Know that calling the crew Out Of Service (OOS) for fatigue is non-punitive “if to the point that the crew is unsafe to perform their assigned duties.” It is your responsibility to review this policy and use it when required. The pressure “to take JUST one more flight” isn’t worth the risk.


Congratulations to REACH for Certification of FAA Level One SMS!

What is SMS?

SMS (Safety Management Systems) is the formal, top-down business approach to managing safety risk, which includes a systemic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountability, policies and procedures.

An effective safety management system lets us manage both the risks and the challenges of introducing new technology into the National Airspace System… Practically speaking, SMS is as important as the new technology itself.” Randy Babbitt, FAA Administrator

Why does it matter?

SMS Processes help us have a clearly defined framework organizationally for safety and risk.  Having a monitored SMS system shows REACH adheres to process controls and documented procedures for how we run our business day to day.

Committing to the SMS Journey should provide REACH:

  • A structured means of safety risk management decision making
  • A means of demonstrating safety management capability before system failures occur
  • Increased confidence in risk controls though structured safety assurance processes
  • An effective interface for knowledge sharing between regulator and certificate holder
  • A safety promotion framework to support a sound safety culture”

How does it change my day to day at REACH?

Right now – it doesn’t – meaning Level One was REACH getting all our processes together in a structured manner and committing to moving forward as prescribed by the FAA.  Likely the line will see more structured feedback and drills to make sure we are adhering to safety as a company – not as individual regions.

What’s next?

In January of this year REACH exited Level 1 of 4 levels of SMS.  This shows our committment to a robust, transparent safety and risk management process.  As we move forward to Level 2, the development and implementation phase, manuals and documents will be updated, report structures will be modified to include a risk and safety component.

The four components of SMS are:

  1. Safety Policies – Senior management’s commitment to continually improve safety, define methods, processes and structure needed to meet the goals
  2. Safety Risk Management – Determines the need for and adequacy of new or revised risk controls based on the assessment of acceptable risk
  3. Safety Assurance – Evaluates if we effectively implement risk control strategies and identifies new hazards.
  4. Safety Promotion – Training, communication and other actions to create a positive safety culture at all levels of the company structure

For more information about what SMS is and what it means – you can visit:

https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/sms/