Responsibility. What the hell is that? That means it's my fault when stuff goes sideways, or when stuff doesn't get done.
Most of the time my official title is a convenient one, a way to explain to the random pilots I meet on the road that I do paperwork as well as fly. During audit time, it means a whole lot more, and less. It means it's my fault if our pilots don't fill out their paperwork. It means it's my fault if a pilot under my care and control requests a long landing and ends up off the end of the runway. It's my fault if the catering is late to arrive, and it happens to also be my fault if there's a lunar eclipse and it somehow results in departure delays of thirty-five minutes on a charter. Just to clarify, and in case our insurance broker is reading this, none of this stuff has actually happened - it's just a way to illustrate my point.
And the funny part is I'm just this guy. I work hard, and I have a brain, but it's not like I was bestowed supernatural knowledge about how to manage operations. There is no training school for this, no "Paperwork" type rating and no memory items that will carry me through. Hell, half the time I feel like I'm about to give a speech in front of the whole school and I forgot to wear pants. At least I am lucky enough to learn quick and that helps a little - it means that for every rookie mistake I make, I learn not to make that particular mistake again.
I just wish there weren't sooo many different kinds of mistakes to make.
Sometimes the operations side of things feels like like taking a competency check ride every day, every day. If I lose, I'm done. And if I pass, my reward is that I get to do it again tomorrow.
For a charter from Toronto to Teterboro, these items have to be completed or I can be fined or punished criminally:
1.Check weather and get printout of said weather, proving the trip is safe
2.file flight plan
3.call customs initially with details of flight
4.go to homeland security website and enter a million details about each passenger
5.fax our FAA supervisor with our flight itinerary
6.fill out Gen Dec forms and fax them to customs
7.make sure pax (and crew) fill out Gen Dec cards in addition to aforementioned Gen Dec forms
8.make sure all pax have valid passports
9.make sure predicted / updated arrival time is communicated to customs, no matter what
10. When returning to Canada, repeat steps 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 but with a Canadian official.
That's 10 steps, and that's just stuff I can go to jail for, that's not including stuff like "make sure passengers have limos waiting" or "make sure de-ice is available at destination airport" or "make sure coffee is always hot and magazines aren't old" or "make sure fuel on board is above minimum required but not above maximum allowed" etc.
All that being said, at least I got to fly today and that helped remind me of why I do this job - it was awesome. The plane behaved, I got to see some really cool sights, and I greased my landing in 35 knot crosswinds, which was a rare and welcome event.
And I guess after all my bitching, that's what it's all about. Flying a jet is the best job on the planet, and I'm lucky to be here. I just have to really keep that in mind for the next while, at least until all our audits are done.