Safety and professionalism are two hallmarks of any successful aviation operation. Agape Flights is no exception.
Earlier this year, Agape Flights brought consultant Cason Chatham on board, a pilot and mechanic with experience in aviation operations, humanitarian aid and safety.
And in June, Chatham led Agape through its first professional safety audit, performed by Mission Safety International, an independent Christian consulting organization providing services and resources for nonprofit aviation-oriented mission groups.
Chatham explained his role as a safety officer as a broad one, touching nearly every facet of Agape’s operations, including pilots and aircraft, maintenance and finances. “We look at how we make decisions on how we budget for the coming year, for equipment for the aircraft, maintenance for the aircraft, those kind of things,” he explained.
Chatham, 36, has compiled an impressive resume. A pilot as well as a certified aircraft mechanic, he has a master’s degree in global affairs and management.
He spent four years in Central Asia flying and maintaining aircraft for PACTEC, a nonprofit humanitarian organization. He also served as a safety officer for NATO at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan.
“I love flying,” he said, “but the most important thing is to interact with the people we serve on a daily basis, whether it’s the missionaries or the people they directly interact with.
“At the end of the day it’s about relationships.”
The audit, conducted June 18-21, revealed the strengths and weaknesses in day-to-day operations, with the goal of ensuring Agape’s mission is sustainable.
“Agape Flights has come a long way in the past couple of years,” the final audit report said. “You appear to be poised to move to a new level of success and excellence.”
Issues needing attention included improving communications between pilots and maintenance staff, better inventory control, the creation of a crisis management team and developing a formal training program for pilots.
“You have a very good team in place,” the auditors wrote, “and working together in obedience to God’s leading and depending on God to supply all your needs, you will go far in advancing His kingdom and bringing glory to our Lord.”
Chatham said now that the audit has been completed, Agape is implementing MSI’s recommendations on how to conduct flight operations, manage personnel and interact with mission partners, donors and the public.
“On a personal level, I appreciate the challenges presented,” Chatham said.
“It’s a fantastic place to work. I love the mission of what we do. I love working with the people of Agape. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to be surrounded by on a daily basis.”
— Jim DeLa, communications officer