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  • Jason Starke, Ph.D.

Balancing Collaboration and Risk: The Key to Effective Interface Management

Updated: Feb 20


In the dynamic world of aviation, interface management has become a critical focus for Part 135 operators, particularly following the FAA's proposed rule-making in Spring 2023. Both the FAA and ICAO acknowledge the significance of effectively managing interfaces, encompassing communication and risk mitigation. This blog explores the importance of comprehensive interface management in Fixed Base Operations (FBOs) to ensure the safety and success of aviation endeavors.


Understanding the Interface:

The interface between flight departments and FBOs can be visualized as the convergence of two distinct circles. The flight department represents the organization responsible for operating flights, while the FBO is an independent entity providing support services. Managing this interface is crucial as it directly impacts the mission of safely transporting passengers and cargo.


Recognizing Risks:

While FBOs play a vital role in supporting flight operations, certain events within their environment can introduce risks that affect flight safety. These risks may manifest as ground incidents, damages, or operational issues that may only become apparent after takeoff. Therefore, proactive measures are essential to address potential risks emerging from the FBO interface.


Comprehensive Interface Management:

Interface management requires a holistic approach that considers risks introduced by FBOs while evaluating the flight department's activities and procedures. Changes made within the flight department can inadvertently impact the FBO interface. Thus, it is crucial to be aware of these potential risks and take preventive measures to ensure safety.


Mitigating Risks:

To mitigate risks at the FBO interface, proactive measures must be implemented by both FBOs and flight departments. FBOs should establish robust controls and defenses within their boundaries to prevent risks from extending beyond their organization. These controls may include fuel quality testing, comprehensive training programs, towing protocols, and wing walker policies. Simultaneously, flight departments must remain vigilant and establish their own defenses to safeguard against potential shortcomings in FBO operations.


Measurement and Reporting:

Measurement plays a crucial role in interface management. Flight departments can establish mechanisms to measure and track FBO performance over time. This includes reporting observations of any deficiencies witnessed at the interface, even if they don't directly impact their own operations. By monitoring vendor performance, flight departments gain insight into the effectiveness of the FBO's defenses and can make informed decisions about collaboration.


Significance for Part 135 Operators:

Interface management holds great significance for Part 135 operators. Collaboration between flight departments and FBOs necessitates effective risk management at the interface. By recognizing potential risks, implementing necessary defenses, and measuring vendor performance, flight departments can enhance safety and ensure the smooth functioning of aviation operations. Interface management serves as a key pillar in maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety, contributing to the overall success of the industry.


The interface between flight departments and FBOs is a critical junction in aviation operations. Managing this interface with a comprehensive approach ensures effective collaboration while mitigating risks. By understanding the potential risks, implementing necessary controls, and measuring performance, aviation organizations can prioritize safety and maintain the industry's highest standards. Interface management serves as a cornerstone for successful aviation endeavors.

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