The Business Aviation Paradigm

Business jets, of course, look really cool and sexy and provide a very necessary service.

But once you get past the “gee-whiz” factor and really look at the systems, structures and management of the aviation business, it is obvious there are serious issues embedded into the business aviation paradigm.

Business aviation’s number one problem, in my, opinion is its corporate “Me Too” mentality.

In my opinion, the direct result of the corporate “me too” mentality in business aviation has created an industry almost completely devoid of creative thinkers and innovators. Most importantly, these administrative “yes men” do not believe in what they are doing. How can they believe in what they are doing when they do not remotely understand aviation? The majority of these administrators cannot even fly a jet, so how can they manage a fleet of jets or even one? Think of the situation in this way. To an uneducated person an “A” is just three sticks. What must a real corporate jet look like to the MBA running a business aviation operation? Duh, really cool and sexy!

The so called best and brightest, the administrators that run today’s business aviation, only know how to operate business aviation in one way…the way everyone else operates it. There is nothing creative, innovative, or believable in that.

The majority of administrators who lead business aviation today are not true aviation leaders, but an inordinate amount of followers and inept corporate yes men. That is what represents the basic structure of business aviation today. This trait not only permeates flight operations, but OEM’s, and in particular, the growing and numerous contrived businesses that are over running operations.

This systemic problem is reducing business aviation to a completely broken system. Add to that, the insane belief by these same administrators that corporate America has so much money that the companies who do use aviation as a tool, do not care about money or aviation costs. There you have it, the “Cowboy Corporate Aviation Paradigm.”

The end result of this toxic brew is that the cost to use jet aircraft is going up at unjustifiable rates. Unlike the government, corporations are not a bottomless pit of money. Corporations have to make profits even if the current aviation leadership does not subscribe to that theory. The use of corporate aircraft is a luxury tool, not a necessary tool to corporations, and historically when costs get too high or business takes a down turn, the first thing to go is the company or charter aircraft. Anyone remember 2008, 2,000, 1991, 1987, 1980, etc.?

Today the situation is far more precarious, Jets do not cost $1 million or $ 5 million like they used to, but $70 million. $70 million is starting to approach the cost of airliners, the only difference is, airliners fly 3,500 hours a year while corporate aircraft routinely fly 350.

Run the numbers on a $70 million jet and the associate support system for 350 hours a year and see what the cost per hour looks like. Do not forget to include the payment or the cost of the money…and do not dilute that number with tax benefits unless you are going to include the recapture. It is getting impossible to justify the cost per hour on those aircraft no matter what screwball numbers you use to lessen the impact.

So we know with 100% certainty that business aircraft are not essential to corporations and costs do matter. Knowing that, one would think people in business aviation leadership roles would be doing everything they can to reduce expenses. But no, it doesn’t work like that.

Investors and hedge funds do not invest in new, creative ideas, or even creative thinkers in business aviation. They want administrative “yes men” who are willing to go along to get along. Therefore the people they bring in to run business aviation are aviation fatuous. There is no way there are going to be any creative ideas financed in business aviation industry without a serious paradigm shift. And without that paradigm shift business aviation will simply pirced itself out of the market place. In many cases it alreasy has.dreamstime-paradigm-shift

Meantime, the administrative “yes men” hired to run aviation companies have to come up with something that looks like they know what they are doing. So instead of real changes we get redundant, ridiculous, and expensive add-on services.

And, of course, the people that develop and sell redundant, ridiculous, add-on services to the aviation community know the weakness of the corporate “yes men” leadership, so they exploit everything they do with the magic word “safety”.

So let’s take a look at what added safety these products and services really offer.

First off, nothing happens in aviation without the sanction of the FAA. The FAA is there to regulate and oversee all aviation activity and operations. Safety is their job. If they approve your operation they not only approve it, they oversee it. They are what counts in aviation, not some audit logo or copied safety manual. If you are approved by the FAA, you are approved. Anything after that is wasted money.

Yet every neophyte leader in business aviation now thinks they need a safety manual and an audit by outside auditors to be considered safe. These things cost thousands and thousands of dollars and do what? Absolutely nothing! Safety manuals and audits are totally redundant to the FAA ops manual your company already wrote and got approved.

Now we have an entire industry being built around writing safety manuals by people that, in many cases, cannot even fly. How do you write a safety manual about aviation if you do not fly?  Simple! You copy the ops manual, the one approved by the FAA, change the cover, and charge $40,000. Then the administrative “yes man” will enthusiastically inform his higher ranking administrative “yes man”…the one he answers to..”Look what I accomplished.” I bought a safety manual about our ops manual. “At which point the superior “yes man” will arrogantly ask the critical question, “Why is dyslexia so hard to spell?”

Additionally you have charter audits for charter operators. You have to pay these guys money or they will not give you their stamp of approval… but then you don’t really need it, the FAA already approved you and over sees your operations everyday.

Who are these guys to slap the FAA in the face implying that their logo means more than FAA approval? Guess what audit guys?  If I had a company with your logo and no FAA manual or FAA approval, I could not even fly one trip. However, if I have FAA approval, with or without the logo, I can legally fly trips all day long. So who are you again?

Like I have been saying, the aviation paradigm is all out of whack and needs to be reset.

So we need to make a choice,. Does aviation grow up and develop a new and workable paradigm based on aviation professionalism? Or does business aviation submit to administrative corporate “yes men”? If administrative corporate “yes men” do succeed, then every five to ten years we can all watch helplessly while aviation collapses again and again until business aviation simply ceases to exist. There still is a choice!

Erudite Solutions for Business Aviation

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