Legacy Case Study, Feb. 2022: Clay Lacy Aviation uses VOCUS SMS to Further Improve Operational Safety at FBOs

Clay Lacy Aviation provides aircraft management, private air charter, aircraft maintenance, fixed-base operator (FBO) and other services to private and corporate clients. As part of their overall continuous improvement efforts, Clay Lacy relies on their Safety Management System (SMS) to identify safety problems and proactively address them to ensure their employees, contractors, and customers are as safe as possible. In the year just ended, Clay Lacy was able to objectively identify specific areas of improvement that their dedicated SMS efforts positively impacted to help avoid damage, injury, and impacts to on time operational performance.

Pictured: Jay Thakor, Aviation Safety Manager

While always having a strong safety culture, Clay Lacy understands that their environment is dynamic and includes various levels of risk. The key to their sound safety culture is the willingness of employees to report problems without the fear of retribution. Through the leadership of Mark Foschetti, Safety Manager, and Jay Thakor, Aviation Safety Manager, Clay Lacy solidified their SMS program around the use of Polaris Aero’s VOCUS Safety Platform and emphasized the importance of everyone reporting anything they think poses a problem and not ‘just the big things’. 

As a US Navy Study found, and a Boeing MEDA published, ”the contributing factors to low cost/no injury events were the same contributing factors to high cost/personal injury events. Thus, addressing the contributing factors to lower level events can prevent higher level events.” 

“Often times, when someone sees a safety problem, they’ll just fix it and move on,” said Foschetti.  While that’s a good thing, if you don’t keep track of things, you may not come to realize that there are other factors lurking that are the real problems to address.  By encouraging their FBOs to start reporting anything they thought posed a safety problem through the VOCUS system, Clay Lacy was able to identify several key improvement areas:

  • Gate Violations Significantly reduced:  Clay Lacy tracked gate violations to ensure unknown vehicles or pedestrians cannot gain unauthorized access to the secure facility. 
    • Having the objective data helped to substantiate assigning more staff at the gates during certain times and raise awareness across the workforce
    • By tracking these issues and addressing the causal factors, gate violations dropped from 10-15 a month to under 4 per month. 


  • Trip and Falls Vanish:  Safety report tracking showed a rise in people tripping over chocks and other equipment such as tow-bars.
    • Clay Lacy created new policies to ensure unused equipment is moved from the Aircraft Operating Area (AOA) to a secured location after use.             
    • Operational changes enabled their AOA to be tidier and Line Service Techs (LSTs) can now confidently get their equipment from its properly designated locations.
    • Since making the changes, there have been ‘zero’ injuries due to this hazard 


  • Hangar Rashes and Tow Incidents reduced:  Clay Lacy tracked hangar rashes and tow incidents for 1 year.  Investigations clearly showed that pre-tow briefs were not being conducted every time and tail walkers were not used when they were needed.
    • The causal factor turned out to be cultural issues within the LST group whereby no one wanted to wait on wing walkers and just wanted to get the job done fast.
    • Management was able to be proactive in shifting culture back to following procedures consistently by encouraging LST’s to “take delays” and rewarded their LST staff for not conducting movements without proper staff and briefings 
    • Since making the changes, aircraft and hangar damages have reduced by 30% YTD.


“Through the increased reporting facilitated by VOCUS, our safety team was able to identify the issues and put corrective actions in place to avoid having these problems resurface in the future,” said Jay Thakor. Thakor went on to say, “In some cases, the problems were easily addressed through improved training, and in others, specific tasking was added to the job descriptions of key roles in the organization to provide accountability toward maintaining highly consistent procedures.”  

“While we’ve always been extremely proud of our FBO organization’s safety focus, being able to clean up some of these little problems just helps our team achieve an even higher level of safety and maintain that focus in a high paced, high risk environment,” said Mark Foschetti.