What does safety mean in aviation catering?

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29 January 2015 by bizavcatering

Aviation has always been very exposed to Security & Safety concerns. Being on the age, safety & security have early been incorporated in all aspects of the everyday work of this very specific industry. Unfortunately, in the context of terrorism Western countries and France are currently facing up, we all have to go further by being more focus on it than ever.

As previously explained, as catering is one of the potential vector of risks, being delivered straight to the aircraft, you must consider food on board differently.
Your passengers are important influencers, they are a possible target of terrorism…

For this reason, you have to stop ordering your food from a down town restaurant or a simple catering, even if it is a famous brand name. Place your food order to an aviation catering because it is approved by the country’s authorities in charge of aviation and audited by your FBO. Therefore, everything is safe and under control.

But let me explain you what a safety & security approval is made of to have a better overview of the field covered…

1-    Safety program
A safety program is a file recapitulating all aspects of safety from raw food delivered from the supplier until the delivery at the aircraft, including all the production process. This very extensive document is mandatory and describes in details all processes whithin the kitchen, all accesses, all security tools (alarms, restricted areas,…), how the aviation catering must hire staff, trained them,… how to check is safety is always maintained.

This program is updated whenever needed : when comes a new safety regulation or if failure in the process happens. This document is of course, not only a file stored on a shelf but strictly followed on the everyday basis.

Being confidential, only have access to this document the French Civil Aviation Authorities, the people in charge of safety & security in the in the aviation catering company and the external safety company helping and auditing to maintain safety at the highest level.

2-    Staff
In an aviation catering company, where a safety program has been set up, staff is also one of the critical focus.

Hiring staff is not something easy.
a)    The new staff cannot have police record of course ; can you imagine a guy previously in jail cooking for your VIP passengers ?!!
b)    When the new staff is selected, the aviation catering company must fill out a file and send it to the authorities. An investigation is made by a few services from the government to approve (or not) the this new staff to work in the aviation catering.
c)    Once incorporated to the team, this new staff is trained on safety to be be aware about dangers and to warn in case there would be to worry about.

3-    Restricted area
An aviation catering production unit is restricted to whom can go/work in only. It means it cannot be openned to anybody but the staff only : each of the staff member have a pass linked to its name with access only to where he/she is suppose to go. All the in and out accesses from the kitchen staff are recorded on a system, kept as a record, to maintain alertness.

Production is only opened to approved staff with access cards. If part of the staff is not supposed to a specific area, this staff will not have access in order to keep the highest control and lower risks.

Going into details, if your aviation catering partner is parking cool trucks, highloaders… in a closed wharehouse, it also brings you more security than if parked outside. You never know what can happen at night : people can identify a delivery van as the one delivering to a aircraft targeted and fix anything on it to reach your passenger…

4-    Tracking process
Tracking process is an other major ingredient of the hygiene & safety program. When an aviation catering company is preparing your order, cooks are producing it following hygiene methods integrating the safety processes. All information around your order preparation is recorded in order to keep record of each of single dishes in case of a problem.

In this tracking process, all aspects are taken in account, even a simple washing up or a sealing process to avoid as much as possible failures in the process. Safety seal on a dish or on a delivery van is one of the many easy but efficient tools protecting you…

5-    Audits
Audits are the last ingredient of the safety process but not the least ! Audits are made by 3 different entities with 3 different aims :
a)    French Aviation Authorities to check if the aviation catering is working respecting the highest standard of safety ; in case of major problem, the aviation catering can loose permit to work on tarmac, they also make sure the aviation catering is following the new security regulations,
b)    An external safety company to check if the aviation catering company is properly working. In this case, the aviation catering company is audited on very critical aspects of the process to make sure safety is first,
c)    FBO’s audit, to check the production process is on the aviation standard. Sometimes, companies like Rockwell Collins keep pressure on their supplier by sendind more audits on different aspects AND maintain contacts all year long adding behavior charts,… to make sure the supplier selected is the best and remains the best.

Ordering food from your aviation catering company is a hard process to go through where safety & security are seriously considered. And on top of it, do not forget that the aviation catering have to keep control over the best hygiene as well. It is a concerned on an everyday basis, reason why, as a FA, you have to consider less and less ordering from a downtown restaurant and select an aviation catering respecting these many regulations… At the end, your passengers should be kept safe whatever happens in these dark days.

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