Smoothing the journey from A to B
Published: 08 Aug 2017
Steve Barker is specialist services manager for global flight support company Flightworx, making sure every detail is in place for clients, from fuel and landing permits to hotel bookings and ground transport.
How did you get into aviation?
I’ve always felt passionately about aviation, but it was joining the Air Cadets that really triggered my life-long interest in aircraft. I joined the Air Training Corps when I was 13 years old, experiencing flying and gliding. After leaving school I intended to follow a career in aircraft engineering, but instead I opted to join the Royal Air Force as an assistant air traffic controller.
Your career so far?
Before Flightworx, I spent 22 years in the Royal Air Force, initially as an assistant air traffic controller, before being selected for air traffic controller training, completing tours at Terminal, Area Radar and overseas units. Each day produced different challenges, whether working as the duty tower controller, controlling multiple circuits and aircraft types at once, or as the London military allocator, overseeing a large area of UK airspace, integrating and co-ordinating the needs of military aircraft with those of our civilian counterparts. More than anything, the role taught me the importance of teamwork, communication, forward planning and to always expect the unexpected.
What is Flightworx?
Flightworx offers complete worldwide flight support solutions for private, commercial and specialist operators. We look to provide efficient, smart solutions for our clients, with services including flight planning, delivery of overflight and landing permits, commercial ops and management, ferry flights and delivery. Our neutral and independent fuel comparison and procurement service, Flightworx Fuel, negotiates best-inclass prices for Jet A1 and Avgas. Our ATOL- protected, 24-hour travel agency, Travelworx, accesses competitive prices for all aspects of travel, including booking hotels, ground transport and concierge services for your passengers and crew.
What does your role at Flightworx entail?
I started working for Flightworx in 2008 in the operations department as specialist services manager. My role is in specialist flight planning and trip support and sees me and my team of 25 operations colleagues dealing with unique and bespoke requests from clients on a regular basis. Such requests range from planning long-range ferry flights for all sizes of aircraft, to obtaining clearances for landing a helicopter on a private yacht.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
It can be a challenge to satisfy every client request since my job is so variable. It’s important to be challenged at work and some clients’ requests are more complex than others. For example: planning flights and obtaining permissions for widebody aircraft with limited airworthiness and very specific trip requirements; smaller, single-engined piston types conducting multisector trips around the world; and obtaining clearances to some rather unusual destinations. It’s also important to keep up with technological advances, as well as the ever-increasing development of airspace and regulatory changes. Of course, we are fully prepared for when we receive a more unique request and the team works hard to ensure that every request is met with the high standards of customer service and industry expertise that are expected from us.
Where next for your career?
As we see more and more special projects each week, I look forward to developing our specialist services department, as well as focusing on those clients who demand specific skill sets when planning their trips, and providing them with experienced staff to meet their requirements