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TracPlus superior in remote operations — Security Aviation, Alaska

Jeff McMillan is the Chief Pilot at Security Aviation, a premier air charter company based in Anchorage. 

Security Aviation runs a LearJet 45, four Cessna Conquest turbo props, and two Piper Navajo’s. They fly all over Alaska, the USA, and Canada carrying freight or fisherman, doctors who’re harvesting organs from an organ donation or Australian oil company staff. Their missions extend from medivac and air ambulance to conservation response. No one day is the same for Jeff and his team.

Alaska is synonymous with aviation. The largest state in the US, roughly a third of Alaska's population is discoverable only by boat or aeroplane. Pilots and skippers provide a lifeline to those in the state, and many locals rely on aircraft to get around.

On almost any day, you can peer into the sky and find small planes weaving through the woods and mountains. Harsh weather, rough terrain, size and the diversity of the landscape sets Alaska apart from almost anywhere else. Because of this, Jeff finds himself jet-setting to some extremely remote spots on some extremely interesting missions.

We spoke to Jeff about why Security Aviation made the switch to using TracPlus. 

Why did Security Aviation make the switch to TracPlus?

We were having issues specifically with communication, including text messaging via our old tracking unit. As pilots, we could not be sure that text messages were being reliably sent or received by our dispatcher. So we needed a more reliable system.

What TracPlus features are most important to Security Aviation?

We especially like the reliable text message/email capability from the RockAir units. A lot of our flights in Alaska are to areas with little to no weather reporting (out the Aleutian Chain for example). We are able to receive prompt and reliable updates of weather reports that our dispatch may receive by either satellite phone or weather cameras. 

alaksa tracplus

Why is quality tracking and communication vital in Alaska?

Because of the expansive and rugged mountainous layout of much of Alaska, it is imperative to have reliable satellite tracking of all our flights wherever they may be headed. The fact that we can text back and forth to dispatch makes things a lot easier for both pilots and dispatchers alike. Some of our Government contracts require that the flights are able to be tracked internally by their own offices – we provide them with the TracPlus webpage and they are able to track the flight in real time from their desk!

How do you use the two-way messaging system?

We predominantly use the text function between the aircraft and our dispatch office. I have used the text function to contact dispatch to have them close a flight plan when I’ve landed at an airstrip that has no other communications – we do carry sat phones on these flights, but the RockAir text feature does away with 80% of our Sat calls.