Site Visit: Advocacy Visits Small Air Carrier at Fairbanks Airport
By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel
The SBA Office of Advocacy stopped by Everts Air Cargo during its recent visit to Alaska and met with Robert Ragar, its vice president of contractual business. Everts Air Cargo was formed in 1995 as an air cargo company and is affiliated with Everts Air Alaska, a passenger carrier that operates both charter and scheduled flights. The company is located at Fairbanks International Airport, which serves as its primary base for maintenance and charter operations. It has additional scheduled flights operating out of Anchorage where large volumes of mail and freight are received. The company provides freight service to 14 hubs in Alaska and charter and flag stop services to any city or village where suitable runway conditions exist.
Mr. Ragar discussed the challenges of operating in Alaska, particularly the volatile weather conditions and the difficulty of flying to remote rural destinations. He also discussed several burdensome regulatory issues concerning the transport of cargo. He feels the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on flying oxygen cylinders as cargo, unless they are wrapped in fire resistant materials, is unnecessary; any extreme heat in an aircraft that would effect oxygen cylinders would have the aircraft in immediate peril due to such a fire. He advocates for fire detection and suppression systems, so the flight crew can land the plane quickly in such an emergency in case of a fire. He also stated that FAA should allow the transport of lithium batteries as long as they are charged no more than 30 percent, and he believes safety would be well served if these shipments were prohibited if the charge has been changed within 24 hours.
Following this discussion, Mr. Ragar took Advocacy on a tour of their hanger and maintenance area, which was the highlight of the visit. Everts operates several older and vintage aircraft, including C-46 and DC-6 aircraft which he said are especially well-suited for the many shorter, unimproved gravel or ice runways in Alaska. Everts’ fleet consists of one C-46, four DC-6, three DC-9, two EMB 120 freighters, three MD-80’s, one Boeing 727, two Pilatus PC-12, and two Cessna Caravan aircraft. The company employs about 320 people, including pilots, technicians, cargo handlers, and administrative staff.
As the tour concluded, Mr. Ragar introduced Advocacy to Mr. Sammy Wiglesworth, Everts’ director of safety and security. They discussed the company’s safety management system, which they said permeates all aspects of the company’s operations. Mr. Wiglesworth explained the four pillars of the program: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion. He said it was one of the aspects of his work that he was most proud of.
Advocacy was in Alaska for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables July 9-11.
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Bruce Lundegren is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose
portfolio includes safety, transportation, and security. Lundegren can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The company’s corporate name is Tatonduk Outfitters Limited, established in 1978, doing business as Everts Air Cargo under FAR 121 rules, and as Everts Air Alaska under FAR 135 rules.