About the organisation
RVL Group is a specialist aviation services provider, based at East Midlands Airport, in the heart of the UK. We operate our own fleet of aircraft and provide licensed and professional services to a wide range of private and public sector customers.
What challenges were you trying to address?
Broadly it was about giving people comfort that there was a sufficient line of communication available so that their overall anxiety levels were being managed. As well as shifting the way we work as an organisation, which requires most employees to work on-site because of the nature of the work that we undertake. We operate planes, you can't maintain blades at home, and you can't fly them at home either, so there was immediate concern around how we would safely operate, to avoid closing the business down.
What goals or outcomes did RVL Group want to achieve?
Our overriding aim was, is and will be to look after our staff, suppliers, and customers, in whatever way that we can, while making sure that the business remains strong. We are both an optimistic, and a realistic, business. We understand that we must remain flexible so we can respond and react to our customers.
What was your solution?
We put a series of notifications out to all of our key customers and our brokers, which we continue to do, about our capacity and capability internally to move urgent freights. We've done that specifically in relation to the transfer or transport of organs for the NHS and have had to change the way we do things to meet requirements from the NHS.
We have moved to a more versatile fleet, which includes the Beechcraft King Air. This offers better seating arrangements for medical crew and faster transportation of time critical organs because of its improved performance. We have also improved our internal communication and booking systems so that we can respond quicker to requirements and tailor solutions specific to customer need. Lastly, we applied for and were granted approvals which allow certain alleviations for crew when on medical flights. This provides greater flexibility when on specific missions which may change at the last minute.
Supplementary to that we've moved PPE and medical equipment throughout Europe and that's come about through an awareness of our operation to the wider response to COVID-19.
We also set up a COVID-19 taskforce that looked at the government's guidance and applied it to us where relevant, as well as a weekly bulletin for our customers as an information and contact point. It’s a simple one-page production, just to keep in touch and tell people what we’re doing.
For our employees, we created a regular communication guide, including updates as to what was happening and how it applied to the organisation; that communication subsequently morphed into a daily running brief.
RVL is a nimble and professional company, in line with the prevailing culture of air freight, survey, charter and aircraft maintenance. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has demanded the very best from our staff and suppliers, not least because we are also part of the health supply chain. The way that our teams and individual employees have picked up the many challenges, performed at their very best and delivered for all of our customers, is a clear statement about how efficiently and professionally RVL operates at all times.— Dave Connor, Managing Director, RVL Group
How did you roll out your approach?
We've had to be agile and adapt to guidelines as quickly as possible given the nature of the work that we undertake. We involve customers very early on, so we made sure our internal procedures were aligned as far as practically possible with the likes of our customers, for example, our pilots being onboard aircraft with some of the customers for the aerial surveillance work that we do.
We have also had some shifts in our working patterns. Initially we structured our engineering shifts and then as the guidelines matured and became a little bit clearer, we changed our shift times because we knew actually that we didn't need to be as aggressive as we had in terms of social distancing - in order to keep people safe.
We have also incorporated the use of PPE and we held internal meetings to discuss how and when they should be used, alongside adopting what was deemed necessary in respect of disinfecting aircraft before and after flying.
What have the results been?
I think for me the response of our employees has been very heart-warming. Ironically for an aviation company, we're probably in a much stronger position than most, which is really good and employees in the workforce have been fantastic. They've been receptive to the comms; they've been accepting of almost overnight changes that we've had to put in place for our flight crew, and some of our engineers are 'hand up in the air, we can do whatever, whatever you need', whether it's working days off, being open standby arrangements to help the cause.
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to do something similar?
One thing that we found is really important, like everybody else, we've been a little bit seduced by social media as a business communication tool, and it just isn't. LinkedIn will keep you in touch with people, but it's so general and so wide, that I think it's really important to set up your own bespoke specific and consistent communications, which is what we've done, and it's worked very well for us as a company. Communication has to be done person-to-person, not platform-to-platform and that is one of the things that we've really taken on board.