As chief operating officer, my job at Flight Safety Foundation is like making sure the airplane is on its flight plan — that is, that the Foundation is on the proper business path for successful operation. As happens aloft, sometimes you encounter turbulence despite your planning. That is where the Foundation finds itself at the moment.
All of the Foundation’s ongoing programs and initiatives require some type of financial support. In addition, CEO Bill Voss and I usually field at least one new safety project idea each week. These ideas, many of them good, are offered by organizations and individuals that are passionate about their respective causes and the need for the Foundation to get involved. Unfortunately, however, the idea usually isn’t accompanied by a funding source.
The money that funds the Foundation’s operating budget comes from three primary sources: membership dues, seminar revenue and funds generated by technical programs. Most of our general and administrative (G&A) expenses — salaries, rent, the electric bill — are covered by membership dues, and are essential to provide you, our members, and the industry with the services and support to which you have become accustomed.
As mentioned in a previous column, we have restructured our seminars over the past 18 months with an eye toward providing greater value and relevance in content and geography without increasing costs. We have decided not to hold a conference in Europe in the spring of 2013 for fiscal reasons, but we have plans to offer more precisely targeted events in fast-growing regions. Seminars and other events require a year or more to plan and sometimes mind-boggling advance cash outlays, but we know they are important and the money they generate allows us to continue the seminar programs. Your attendance shows your support and makes future events possible.
In terms of technical programs, we have an excellent technical department of two. That’s right, two! Jim Burin and Rudy Quevedo do an outstanding job leading and facilitating a variety of safety initiatives and programs, working with regional safety groups, making presentations, providing safety data and facilitating the Foundation’s committees. Some of these initiatives contribute financially to the Foundation, some do not.
One of the technical efforts that contributes to the revenue stream is BARS, our Basic Aviation Risk Standard program run by Managing Director Greg Marshall from our office in Melbourne, Australia. BARS provides a valuable audit service for operators in the mineral and mining industry, and is expected to show a positive return on investment in 2013.
We are careful stewards of the Foundation’s funds. Earlier this year, we restructured internally to make sure our costs are in line with our revenues. On the horizon is the prospect of an exciting new data sharing program that could provide a significant influx of work and funds, and which will benefit the Foundation and you.
Your support through your membership dues makes a difference! I ask you to please renew your membership in its new redesigned category today.