Excellence in Aviation

Aviation flying high with prestigious platinum status

The Aviation Research Group United States (ARGUS) Platinum Award puts Aramco Aviation fleet in the top tier globally.

Aviation flying high with prestigious platinum status

Aramco’s Aviation Department has scooped a prestigious ARGUS award that places it as one of the world’s top aviation operations.


The ARGUS Platinum Award is the highest level award that can be achieved within the ARGUS system.


Khalid H. Al Natour, manager of the Aviation Department, said that the award was the result of a yearlong rigorous aviation industry operational audit, with a special emphasis on safety.


Operational excellence

To achieve the platinum level, an aviation operator must demonstrate adherence to the highest levels of effective policies and procedures that govern and control its flight operations, along with maintaining an exceptional safety record. This is no different than any other company operation and is consistent with the company’s commitment to excellence, according to Al Natour.


Although the Aramco Aviation Department is privately operated by the company, it benchmarks itself against other industry segments, including chartered aviation companies, of which just 5% have achieved this ARGUS Platinum status.
— Khalid H.  Al Natour


Al Natour said that the Aviation Department’s dedicated men and women have successfully shown professionalism at the highest levels, and that is something to be proud of.


“The award is based on a progressive evaluation system, which becomes more stringent in subsequent reviews. Having achieved the highest level challenges enables us to remain vigilant while ensuring our commitment to the safety to our most important customer — our passengers. The 1 million passengers we transport a year can trust that our flights are operated at the highest of industry standards and comply with the most stringent of industry safety and quality regulations and standards.


“The process included a comprehensive review of documents and systems. The final part of the assessment included an on-site verification of systems and procedures compliant with the highest industry standards,” said Al Natour.


Team effort

Captain Yousef H. Bannan, Aviation Safety, Compliance and Operational Excellence Unit head, praised the efforts of all of the teams involved from across the Aviation Department.


“First of all, it was honestly a team effort from everyone within the Aviation Department, from flight operations to ground operations, to maintenance, and their respective division heads with the continued support and participation of all safety team members,” Bannan said.


“Getting the rating after a comprehensive audit is proof that we have a well-established safety management system within the organization as per regulatory requirements and best industry practices,” he stated.


The assessment, Bannan added, looked closely into the four major elements of an aviation SMS program: safety policy and procedure; safety risk assessment; safety assurance; and safety promotion to assure compliance and commitment to safety.


“We proudly operate almost 50 aircraft in the Aramco fleet with a daily operation that supports the transportation needs of multiple departments within Aramco. Our fixed-wing fleet alone operates more than 80 flights weekly, while our helicopter fleet operates more than 350 flights per week.


The ARGUS award is a milestone in the development of our safety management program.
— Captain Yousef H. Bannan



Paul Arpke, helicopter pilot, was closely involved with the assessment and said that the aviation industry is in a constant state of evolution. New methods and processes are being embraced to boost both the capabilities and safety of flight operations. 


“Aramco is no different in this regard,” Arpke explained, “even more so due to our extremely unique operations, which incorporate a robust fleet of fixed-wing and rotor wing aircraft performing multiple types of tasks. Due to the complexity of our operation, it is vital that we are measuring ourselves against the best in the industry. 


“Aviation’s award of the coveted ARGUS Platinum Award is a clear indication that we have the right processes, procedures, and professional personnel in place to safely operate our fleets and provide our customers the highest assurance of our commitment to safety,” said Arpke. 


Caption for top photo: From left are Yousef O Abaalkhail, field compliance coordinator; Mahdi F. Dossary, field compliance coordinator; Paul Arpke, helicopter safety pilot and internal auditor (team leader for ARGUS rating compliance); Yousef H. Bannan, Aviation Safety, Compliance and OE Unit head; Douglas R. Moore, field compliance coordinator; and Rebecca A. Birdsong, field compliance coordinator.


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