Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
I’m Tor Banton and my title is Cabin Service Manager for Centreline. My role entails looking after cabin service but most important, safety. I was brought on board to write what we call Part CC, which is the regulatory term for Cabin Crew provision. Most corporate operators have flight attendants or in-flight service providers (IFA’s), an on-board team member who takes care of all the cabin service but who is not responsible for any of the safety or crew related duties.
Back in 2019, Gus Paterson (Centreline COO) was very keen to start this Part-CC process. The rationale behind Part CC was to maintain workload management for the Flight Crew in the event of an emergency or abnormal situation whilst ensuring the cabin was secured and safely managed. It was therefore essential to have a trained third crew member on board to take care of this responsibility. I was approached by Centreline due to my years of experience in Airline operations and training and also my connections with the corporate aviation world.
In 2021 during the Covid_19 Pandemic I had left British Airways and had begun some freelance IFA work for Centreline when the conversations around Part CC were discussed once more. With my experience in management and recruitment, I was happy to assist establish the beginnings of the project but there was much work from a regulatory standpoint to gain the required approvals from the CAA. Not long after in January 2022 Centreline won the tender for what is now our MoD Command Support Air Transport (CSAT) contract. This required the management and training of the Air Stewards who would be operating under our AOC. The time frame to complete the Part CC project became short and intense but with many hours writing manuals and many meetings with training providers and the CAA we were granted Part CC approval. My role then was to give the team the training and the crew attestations to do that. Beyond this our in-house fleets of Super Mid-size and Large Cabin aircraft have been added to our Part CC approval to provide our owners and customers with the level of safety and the Cabin Crew role out continues today.
How did you get into Aviation? And why did you choose to become part of the cabin crew?
So, my background in aviation startedwith Virgin Atlantic in 1998 and I worked my way through the ranks there. As I started my career as cabin crew and thought about all sorts of things I really fancied doing. I liked the idea of being an air traffic controller and spent a day in the London Air Traffic Control Centre (LATCC) also, I wanted to be a pilot so I decided to gain my Private Pilot’s Licence, and that is how I met my other half. Then I had this realisation of where am I most happy, I realised this was in the cabin looking after the customers & crew working as part of a team.
After a spell running my own business outside of aviation I joined to BA in 2012 as direct entry Cabin Services Manager and that was the start of my development in aviation management and also the training side of the job because they gave me the opportunities to train and gaining the experience you need to be able to do what I’ve done for Centreline. It was quite a shock going from managing a big team onboard a wide body airliner to only having three crew including Flight Crew, but being able to work with the RAF and CSAT has been an incredible opportunity to make it my own and develop the crew in a positive way.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and where do you see yourself going in the industry?
The most enjoyable part of my job is working with the team and training. I love training. I enjoy taking the team and imparting my knowledge and my experience and seeing the results as the team develop. Watching some of the CSAT guys who have come from those large fleets in the RAF back to the small 14-seat Falcon Business Jets is quite a challenge, so working with them is a really enjoyable part of my role. When I take my training hat off and go flying I love looking after our customers and enjoy doing what I started in this industry and have a passion for. I think it is just being with people, and I am very much a people person.
Where do I see myself? I guess I probably can’t fly forever, so I see myself going into that full-time training role, possibly working with the CAA, and looking at regulation using my experience to help others in the industry grow.
What aircraft do you enjoy flying the most and why?
The aircraft I have loved flying and working on most, I unfortunately I don’t fly on it anymore which is the mighty Boeing 747, Queen of the Skies. She was just an incredible feat of aviation and amazing every time one took off that it even got off the ground! My present favourite would have to be equal between the Dassault Falcon 900LX and the Embraer Legacy 500. As an operator, I enjoy flying on the Legacy because it is just a lovely aircraft to be on, but the Falcon is always exciting due to the nature of the work we carry out and the people I work with is a great honour.
What is a flying day like for you?
Well, it is normally a very early start! It’s normally a 3-4am drive from home. Then once at the aircraft and all the security checks are done, it’s getting stuck in with the team preparing the aircraft ready for the passenger’s arrival. Normally they are long days which could look like going from Bristol to Malta which is my next duty. When I’m flying as Cabin Crew and not checking other colleagues, everything is down to me, from the catering to doing all the safety checks and making sure everything is clean. During the flights my main duties are liaising with the flight crew, conducting the cabin service and keeping the passengers happy and of course making sure our customers get where they need to be safely. No two days are the same, which I think is so appealing about the job. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself you’re looking after VVIP clients that travel with us and a little bit, ‘wow, I can’t believe this person is on board our aircraft!
What advice do you give to people wanting to get into the industry?
I would say take every opportunity. It is not an easy industry to break into and you almost commit your life to aviation because you miss birthdays, Christmas’s and other life events but the reward is you are not sitting in an office every day looking at the same desk doing the same thing. You get to see the world, and culture and it opens your mind and heart to everything. I would 100% absolutely say if you can do it, go for it!