Globalization requires greater mobility – particularly on the part of executives of global companies. According to a study by Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI), a US provider of maintenance services for business jets, the business aircraft sector is currently experiencing strong growth. Major corporations cut back on business flights during the financial crisis, but with the recovery under way, more and more companies are using the service again.
Frankfurt-Egelsbach business airport
Rather than taking off from international airports, many business jets use smaller airports such as Frankfurt-Egelsbach, Germany’s busiest business airfield. It is located in the heart of the Rhine-Main region, one of Germany’s major business centers.
Here, VIPs such as the Dalai Lama or board members of DAX blue-chip companies are driven straight to the jet in their limousines. While nearby Frankfurt International Airport focuses on large aircraft, charter and scheduled flights, business jets and smaller airplanes use Frankfurt-Egelsbach as a more convenient and cheaper alternative – and managers get to their meetings just as fast from here.
AAV and Allianz insure airports of all sizes – around the globe
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty provides the insurance coverage for Frankfurt-Egelsbach Airport, among others, through Airport Assekuranz Vermittlungs-GmbH (AAV), the in-house broker of Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport. AAV’s portfolio also includes international airports in Varna and Burgas, Bulgaria; St. Petersburg, Russia; Antalya, Turkey; and even Lima, Peru. As a result, the broker can draw on specific airport know-how, which also benefits the regional airports.
In terms of liability cover, AAV and AGCS place a high priority on reviewing mainstream environmental protection measures as part of their risk assessments. In the process, Harald Wüsteney, Liability Risk Consultant, and Annette Kinzer, Senior Underwriter Liability, visited the “Public Airfield Frankfurt-Egelsbach.” Using checklists developed specially for airports, AAV and AGCS gain insights into the risk situation of all airports in AAV’s portfolio.
The airfield at Frankfurt-Egelsbach operates 14 hours a day, 365 days a year and currently has 21 employees. As a result, each employee has to perform several jobs – a relatively common situation for airfields. On average, Frankfurt-Egelsbach records more than 70,000 aircraft movements a year. The runway was extended in 2003/2004, and the airport is scheduled to be expanded further, achieving an instrument-supported landing and takeoff process.
A challenge – even for proficient pilots
As the airport is close to Frankfurt International Airport, a technically well-equipped tower with a dedicated staff and good pilot training are particularly important. Frankfurt-Egelsbach is located in a separate sector in the control zone of Frankfurt International Airport. Therefore, landing and takeoff procedures are rather complex and require a high degree of alertness and precision on the part of pilots – partly to avoid unnecessary noise pollution and negative effects on traffic movements at Frankfurt International Airport.
A variety of airplanes take off and land in Frankfurt-Egelsbach – from relatively slow power gliders to much faster business jets. So air traffic control focuses on separating these diverse types of aircraft movement.
Five different aviation clubs and associations are based here. Seven commercial aviation schools, as well as various maintenance and service companies, operate on the airfield as well. Frankfurt-Egelsbach even features a restaurant of famed German chef Alfons Schuhbeck.
Environmentally conscious risk management
Harald Wüsteney knows airfields inside out. Over the past few months, the building services engineer, who has specialized in environmental technology and quality management, has visited more than 20 different airfields across Europe. The airfield in Egelsbach still impresses him, though. He says: “No matter where you go, the situation is always different – in spite of the international standards of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). That’s exactly what makes my job so interesting…"
The key aim of an environmental inspection at an airport is to assess risks related to tank farms and operational discharges, for example from airplane washing units or deicing. The airfield at Frankfurt-Egelsbach has developed a pragmatic solution: the planes and runways are simply not deiced. When aircraft take off in winter weather, the takeoff strip is cleared. The planes themselves leave the hangars just before takeoff and do not have to be deiced as a result. This is a major environmental advantage because the airport operator would have to make substantial investments in infrastructure to prevent the deicing liquid from contaminating groundwater or surface water.
At this airfield, one of the risk expert’s first questions concerns the bullhead, a threatened fish species that lives in the creek running alongside it. Under the new environmental liability law that was implemented as a result of the EU Directive 2004/35/EC in 2007, both private and public instances of damage involving biodiversity are subject to legal action (see “Liability for environmental damage” on page 18). For this reason, the AGCS liability experts will scrutinize any potentially critical aspects even more closely. With the renaturation of the creek at Egelsbach, however, the airfield has ensured continued growth of the fish stock so that there are no grounds for concerns here. In addition, the AGCS engineer inquires about residual environmental damage, with a particular focus on the airfield’s tank farm and oil tanks. The recent modernization of these facilities also underscores the airfield’s exemplary approach in this area.
Another interesting aspect with respect to environmental cover is the potential risk of bird strikes at airfields. Frankfurt-Egelsbach has addressed this risk with a bird strike monitoring system that was installed to prevent birds from disturbing air traffic.
According to AGCS’s risk engineer, the airfield at Frankfurt-Egelsbach operates a sound and proactive risk management system. The environmental risks associated with its facilities are limited. The multiple functions carried out by employees require a comprehensive organizational framework and well-regulated processes. In the context of the risk dialogue, relevant aspects are repeatedly addressed to add to the client’s own view. This provides AAV and AGCS with better insight into the airfield’s total exposure.
The risk engineer, the underwriter and the broker all agree on one thing: first-hand insights into the risk object greatly facilitate discussions of comprehensive coverage and necessary risk management measures, because all parties involved have a better understanding of the insurable situation.