How WYVERN is Making Private Aviation Safer


Thanks to decades of international cooperation and legislation, commercial airline operations are the safest form of travel. However, by its very nature of flexibility and accessibility, it’s commonly believed that private and air charter aviation can never be as safe – or can it? WYVERN has worked with the aviation industry for over 30 years to ensure private and air charter operators deliver the same level of safety as commercial airline operators. Through its Wingman Certification Program, WYVERN assures passengers and other stakeholders that their private and air charter operators meet the same international standards as the globally respected air carriers do. CEO Sonnie Bates takes us on a journey with a would-be client to show how WYVERN can help you make any private jet trip an enjoyable one.

Suzy, from Breezy, California, was looking for private aviation options for her family’s next adventure to Thailand. Among her options, she noticed that some private operators were certified by WYVERN, the world’s first private aviation safety certification company. She was determined to make an intelligent decision, not just on quality and price but also on safety. So, she called WYVERN, where she was connected to Patti, the Senior Director of Membership, to learn more about how WYVERN ensures safety in private aviation.

Patti explained that certified WYVERN Wingman operators are assessed by highly experienced aviation safety experts and must demonstrate adherence to a comprehensive set of international safety standards to gain and maintain their certification. She also told Suzy that she could verify this with the operator or a WYVERN broker by demanding a Wingman Pilot and Aircraft Safety Survey (PASS) report. This report ensures that both pilots are appropriately qualified, trained, and experienced in the aircraft. It also ensures the aircraft is approved to fly commercial flights by the regulatory authorities, which reduces the risk of illegal chartering, a significant global risk.

Suzy noticed that some operators identified themselves as WYVERN Registered and asked the difference between that and Wingman. Patti explained that WYVERN Registered operators are not certified but share their safety data with WYVERN so the passenger can run a PASS report to ensure they meet WYVERN’s Registered safety standards, which is a significant step up from “legal.” Nevertheless, they are not assessed and certified by WYVERN.

Suzy weighed her options with a broker and asked for PASS reports for Wingman and WYVERN Registered operators. After reviewing the cost for each of these options, she decided to choose the Wingman Operator since they were certified by WYVERN, and she was traveling with her family and wanted to ensure their safety. However, then she realized they planned to charter a helicopter in Thailand to tour the beautiful countryside. “How do I know these operators are safe? Are they WYVERN Registered or Wingman”?

Suzy called WYVERN and asked for Patti again. Patti explained that the helicopter operator in Thailand was neither a Wingman nor WYVERN Registered. However, she told Suzy that they could validate the operator with a Mission Audit and provide Suzy with a report on the operator’s safety risk profile. Suzy agreed that this would be a good idea and was relieved that the fee for such service was very reasonable and could be conducted within a few days.

The WYVERN team went into action to conduct a virtual audit on the Thai helicopter operator where they validated the crew, helicopter, operator, the specific mission profile, terrain, and a variety of environmental, human, organizational, and technical risk factors. WYVERN provided Suzy with the Mission Audit report that indicated the operator posed a significant risk in several areas by utilizing only one pilot. The pilot did not hold the highest possible pilot rating and lacked requisite experience compared to industry best practices and operated only single-engine piston helicopters. Based on this information, Suzy worked with a WYVERN broker to locate a helicopter operator in Thailand that met WYVERN standards.

Suzy contacted WYVERN again and asked, do you have any evidence that Wingman Standards for helicopter operators make a difference? Patti explained to Suzy that the NTSB database shows over 2,000 helicopter safety events since 2008. When these events are filtered for the Wingman Standard (two pilots, the pilot-in-command has the highest possible rating (ATP), twin-turbine engines), it leaves only five events, all of them being offshore oil platform operations with no injuries. With this data, Suzy knew she was making a smart decision by putting her family on a Wingman Certified jet operator to take them to Thailand and booking with a Thai helicopter operator who operated to Wingman standards, although not yet certified.

Three months later, Patti received a postcard from Suzy thanking her and the WYVERN team for their friendly and valuable service. The adventure was a huge success. Safety was never in question, and Suzy and her family have a new group of friends at WYVERN who are standing by to assist her again on a future quest.