Cobham Aviation Services is the largest provider of contract aviation services in Australia, employing 1100 people nationally to conduct border surveillance and search-and-rescue operations for the Australian Government, and closed charter passenger and freight services to remote mining, oil and gas projects.
Through its National Jet Systems division, Cobham has also operated QantasLink’s 20 B717 aircraft for the past 15 years, predominantly on regional routes. But in May it was announced that National Jet Systems would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Qantas Group.
To help address the dual impact of COVID-19-related stand-downs in the aviation sector, and the change in ownership of National Jet Systems, the company dramatically ramped up its internal communications.
Cobham has held an average of two managed teleconferences a week through Redback Connect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to provide staff updates and enable employees to participate in a Town Hall-style Q&A, with as many as 600 people on each call.
Callers are asked to state their name as they dial in, then Redback operators transcribe it onto that caller’s line. The lead operator provides an intro and outro for the presenters, moderates the Q&A, and provides a participant list and recording at the call’s conclusion.
According to corporate communications manager Meilin Loi, the teleconferences reach multiple pilots, cabin crew and support staff from a variety of bases across Australia in different time zones.
“When you’ve got a mobile workforce, it suits us to have a call where staff can dial in from wherever they are at the time, and the fact that it’s managed means you don’t have to worry about the tech,” she says.
“A call is far more personal than an email,” Meilin says. “You can convey messaging and you can give context that doesn’t really come across in written communications and on a facilitated call there’s an opportunity for real-time Q&A, which provides that important feedback loop.
“When you’re going through these sorts of issues, things can change quickly. I’ve called up Redback many times and changed the date of a call,” she says.
“The team at Redback is very flexible. It can be a stressful experience when you are managing multiple communications channels in a short period of time, and they help alleviate some of that stress, which is great.”