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The Race is On – Where Do You Play the Ponies?

by Ray Robinson 31. March 2014 15:31
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Image Courtesy Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Now that Spring has officially sprung, everyone that has a set of wings that they’re pulling out of their T-hangers and taking to the skies. And sure, there are a ton of aviation related events on our calendar, but what about other events. As our office is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and I personally live about a mile from Churchill Downs, one type of event that comes to my mind that comes to mind is horse racing. For my money, you’re not going to find a more exciting gambling venue than being trackside, right up near the action as the thoroughbreds thunder by!

Here is a list of some of the venues to which you may consider flying to experience the thrill of horseracing – airports that are close enough to the track that it’s worthwhile to land there:

Memorial Field Airport (HOT) – If you’re itching to start right away, fly into Hot Springs to hit up Oaklawn Racing. Better hurry though – racing ends halfway thru April!

Bowman Field (LOU) – As I mentioned, we’re not that far from Churchill Downs, and “the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” known as the Kentucky Derby. This is the 140th year of the Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown, and the biggest party you’ll ever find for a horse race. Festivities kick off with Thunder Over Louisville on April 12 with a huge airshow (featuring the Blue Angels this year) and the world’s largest fireworks demonstration.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport (BWI) – The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, is rife with tradition of its own. Events leading up to the Stakes on May 17 include Sunrise at Old Hilltop, the Alibi Breakfast, and a Jockey autograph session. A flight to Pimlico may be in order!

John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – We can’t forget to the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 7. The day will feature a $1 Million Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 6 and a $1 Million Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4. That’s a lot of $100 hamburgers!

There are obviously many more, and you can find many more of them at this link. If you want to win, place or show, these are all winning places to show up!

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Flying | Airports

The Business Mission Drives The Aircraft Mission

by David Wyndham 24. March 2014 15:24
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Image: Gulfstream G650

The Gulfstream G650 and Citation Ten vie for the world’s fastest business jet. But if you need to get an accident victim from the accident scene to a hospital fast, you most likely need a helicopter. Business jets are not designed to land beside the highway and helicopters won't do for a long cross-country flight. I'm stating the obvious, but how many aircraft choices seem to ignore this?

"To execute the corporate mission" is the answer to the business question "Why do we have an aircraft?" If the aircraft is a personal aircraft, the "why" may be "to enjoy flying." What type of flying is fun to one person can be very different from another. In the world of business aircraft, whether the business is high tech, services, hospitality, acute care, etc., the why of the aircraft must be tied into the why of the company. If it isn't, then the aircraft may be a mismatch to the company mission.

The closer the aircraft's mission can be tied into the reason for the corporation's existence, the more secure the aircraft (and aviation employees' jobs) will be. If IBM were having a tough year financially, no one would ever suggest that they get rid of all their computers! How close does the mission of your business aircraft fit into the reason your company exists? If the aircraft went away, would it have a negative impact on the ability of its users to successfully execute the company's mission?

Our own company mission is: The mission of Conklin & de Decker is to enable the general aviation industry to make more informed decisions when dealing with the purchase, operation and disposition of aircraft by furnishing objective and impartial information.

We are much too small to afford a corporate aircraft, but if/when we get there, the aircraft better directly support our ability to "enable the general aviation industry to make more informed decisions." The added value to the business from the person(s) using the corporate aircraft must exceed the costs of having that aircraft. If the leader of a corporation is worth $1 billion dollars to the corporation, and their use of the company aircraft enhances that value, then the $1 million budget for the aircraft should be easily defensible. If the mission of the health services company includes providing critical care to a large community, then the EMS helicopter should be easily defensible.

A company has a written mission statement that is used to guide its daily business. The aviation department should also have a written mission statement. That mission statement should support the mission of the corporation. The aviation department should be part of the corporate structure just as legal, human resources, IT and other departments. Your may not be making widgets, but you are making the making and selling of the widgets easier and more productive.

After that, the next step is developing the measurement criteria for the aircraft to enable management to determine how well the aircraft is at meeting its mission needs. Then, and only then, can you start the analysis of speed, range, payload, cabin, and performance needed to make a wise aircraft choice.

What you then end up with is measureable criteria that can be used to evaluate the aircraft choices. Each of those criteria stem from the assigned mission of the aircraft. The assigned mission of the aircraft is directly supporting the mission of the corporation. Thus, the answer to the question of why do we need eight seats and 2,400 NM range, is to support the corporate mission.

A caution here is that in some situations, supporting the senior leadership can be mistaken for NOT supporting the corporation. There are no easy answers to the “big boss uses company jet for private retreat” headline. But, that personal use of the corporate aircraft better be documented and reported.

Business aircraft of all types can be used to further the successful mission accomplishment of the corporation. These missions need to be in writing and clear enough so that the justification of the use of a business aircraft can easily be done.

What is your mission statement? Does your choice of transportation reflect it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Business Aviation & NextGen, Part II: Upgrade, Sell, or Do Nothing?

by Sarina Houston 15. March 2014 17:30
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Image: Creative Commons/SempreVoldano

For aircraft owners, there are still a lot of issues surrounding the FAA's NextGen program. Determining what you should do to remain compliant without drowning in the high costs associated with the new avionics involved is challenging, to say the least.

Last month, in part one of our NextGen series, I discussed avionics equipment and mandates associated with the NextGen program, including what equipment is already mandated, what will be mandated come 2020 and what could potentially become required in the future. These scheduled and proposed mandates have become an important factor to consider for aircraft owners, especially when it comes to deciding whether to upgrade their aircraft's avionics or upgrade to a new airplane altogether.

Here's a rundown of what some aircraft owners have experienced, including how much cash you may need to shell out to get up to speed:

The Trends:
While some business jet operators have a little bit of time to think it over, others are already finding it necessary to upgrade their airplanes to ADS-B and FANS-1/A for international operations. And others are choosing to upgrade early to get it over with and avoid the consequences of not being ready for the 2020 ADS-B mandate.

"What I'm seeing is people using the cost of NextGen to justify an aircraft replacement sooner rather than waiting," says David Wyndham, President and Co-Owner of aircraft consulting firm Conklin & de Decker. "They are fearful of the cost of the upgrade on their older aircraft, or having an older aircraft with little resale appeal if they don't upgrade."

The resale value of an old airplane is one thing. The cost of new, mandated equipment exceeding the cost of the aircraft itself is another reality that aircraft owners must face.

But not everyone shares the opinion that upgrading now is the best option. Some aircraft owners are willing to wait it out with the preconception that the FAA won't be able to meet its own mandate in 2020, and with the hope that the cost of equipment will decrease as more manufacturers put their solutions on the market and better options start to emerge than exist right now. This plan could backfire, though: According to Duncan Aviation's website, as the deadline approaches, the cost of ADS-B will likely go up and aircraft owners could find themselves on a wait list for installation, and, ultimately, grounded.

The Challenges:
Equipment upgrades for NextGen have become a bit of a headache for aircraft owners, as much of the newer technology isn't compatible with what's currently on board aircraft, especially aircraft older than 10 years.

Jeremy Cox, Vice President of JetBrokers, Inc says there are problems at the manufacturer level when it comes to compatibility. "The main problem with ADS-B compliance…is that both Collins and Honeywell are still working on their FMS modifications to enable the ADS-B functionality."

"Worse, there will not be any weather depiction through most of the large aircraft FMS units, as they will not support the frequency," Cox says.

Add to this the possibility of STCs and required waivers for some equipment upgrades, and aircraft owners are experiences delays and down time for expensive equipment that they didn't want to begin with.

The Real Cost:
There are numerous options to consider when it comes to upgrading an airplane for NextGen, which is why every aircraft will be different when it comes to determining the cost of NextGen upgrades.

International operators will be hit the hardest, according to Cox. A full NextGen-compliant upgrade for an international, long-range business jet could likely mean numerous equipment upgrades, such as a new GPS, NAV system, FMS, transponder, Multi-Function Display (MFD), SATCOM, cockpit voice recorder (CVR), or a datalink printer.

Some owners will have additional options to consider, like whether to install ADS-B In along with ADS-B Out equipment. (As of now, the FAA is only mandating the use of ADS-B Out.)

Cox says the cost could add up to millions for business jet owners. "A Gulfstream IV will cost about $1 million to comply. A Falcon 900 will cost anywhere from $1.1 million to $3.5 million. A Challenger 601 will cost more than $1.5 million. Add to this the cost of in-flight SATCOM data that will always be turned on when operating within FANS and CDPLC airspace."

The Silver Lining:
If there's a silver lining to the cost of NextGen equipment, it's that the safety and efficiency that comes with these upgrades will benefit everyone who participates.

While the initial installation is no doubt costly, some people (depending on the type of ADS-B equipment used) will get satellite weather and traffic information at no cost. For those used to paying fees for satellite weather and GPS subscriptions, the high initial price of ADS-B might be worth it in the long run.

And still others see the value in NextGen overall. Pilots are all different when it comes to what they find necessary or valuable in avionics, and many see ADS-B and other equipment upgrades as a welcome and necessary part of the flying world.

Aircraft owner Neal Clayton says the technology is worth it. "I am not a weekend-afternoon local flyer. If I fly I'm going somewhere, at least across state lines, maybe at night, maybe in IMC, or maybe both. So things like synthetic terrain, weather display, and GPS steering are more than toys to me."

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Aircraft Sales | Aviation Technology | News | Sarina Houston

Report From the 25th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference

by Tori Williams 13. March 2014 16:40
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photo by Andrew Zaback—record attendance to hear Eileen Collins speak at the Luncheon on Friday, March 7 at the 25th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference

On the weekend of March 6th 2014, over 4,500 people attended the 25th annual Women in Aviation International conference held at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was fortunate enough to find myself able to attend for my first time this year. Although I was not sure what to expect, I left the conference with unforgettable memories and a true love for Women in Aviation International.

I was determined to get out of my comfort zone and make the most of this experience, so on my first day I made a beeline for the volunteer booth to sign up to help in whichever area they needed me. I was told by the volunteer coordinator that they had over 300 volunteers signed up for the conference. She said that the success of the conference really had so much to do with volunteers, who help with every aspect from registration to article writing for the Daily newsletter. I shared a resort room with fellow aviation writer Sarina Houston, so I was nudged towards volunteering in the press room and had some great learning experiences with the women working there.

On the first day, after attending a New Member breakfast and meeting tons of great people, I was sent to the exhibitor hall for my first volunteer assignment. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, a large time capsule was filled during the conference and will be reopened in 25 years. I was asked to talk to each of the 133 exhibitors individually and pick up their time capsule items. Many were unsure as to what they should put in the capsule, but I assured them that a pamphlet or business card would work. Simply a way to say “I was here.” The capsule will be opened at the 2039 conference.

It was invigorating to hear some true aviation legends speak at the conference. On Thursday night attendees were treated to an inspiring speech by SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul. After flying 212 combat missions as a USAF fighter pilot, Shul was shot down and so badly burned that he was given a very slim chance of survival, and next to no chance at a normal life. After spending 2 months in intensive care and an additional several months in physical therapy, he made a full recovery and was able to return to flying. He presented a stunning collection of rare photos he took after his recovery, during his time as a Blackbird pilot.

Attendees were invited to a special luncheon on Friday featuring a speech by Eileen Collins. Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and has the distinction of being the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. It was unreal to hear her causally talk about her training, and describe in detail what it is like to feel a space shuttle takeoff. She chuckled and told about when she looked out the window and it hit her that “wow, the earth IS round!”

Of the thousands in attendance, a large percentage had come for the job opportunities. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United Airlines were all present at the conference, taking resumes and conducting short interviews with applicants. Sharply dressed pilots flocked to their booths and it was fun talking to some of the energetic young job searchers.

I’m in a great spot for attending this conference, because I am graduating high school and beginning the rest of my flight training in a few short months. I tried to make a point of visiting every flight university and hearing about what makes them special, and how they are conducting their training of the next generation of pilots. I lingered at the Bristow Academy and Whirly-Girls booths, envisioning my life as a helicopter pilot. There are so many scholarships and opportunities available for an education in aviation, it is simply a matter of knowing where to look.

After passing by and lusting over an Abingdon watch a few times, I went to some of the education sessions. I learned tips and tricks for publishing my own book, and listened to a panel of female airline pilots. There were dozens of other educational sessions happening, and I only wish there were more of me so I could have attended more of them!

Seeing thousands of people who are passionate about aviation and are enjoying their careers in the field was extremely inspiring. I highly encourage anyone who is serious about aviation to look into attending the next Women in Aviation International conference. I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference myself and reunite with some of the great girls I met last weekend.

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Tori Williams

Selling Your Aircraft? Get More Inquiries

by Ray Robinson 13. March 2014 12:14
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FSBO

The other day, a gentleman selling Cessna 172 called our office. It seems that the first time he placed the aircraft on our site, he got several inquiries from potential buyers. A couple of them even made offers. However, he held out for better offers since it was getting a lot of action. Maybe that was the right decision, maybe not. Regardless, after a couple of months the inquiries started to slow, and ultimately stop.

He wanted some advice on getting the response he was receiving initially. I figured that if he wanted these tips, several sellers out there could use this advice. I sat down and compared 25 aircraft that have received the most inquiries – not just views – to see what they have in common with each other. Here are a few of the things I found.


Photos, Photos, Photos!

Take a look at this Cessna 182. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of detail included – but there ten photos of the outside, the interior and the panel in the Image Gallery. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an old adage for a reason – short of seeing the aircraft in person, nothing comes as close to putting potential buyers in cockpit like a series of clean, clear and bright photos. More photos also tells buyers that you have nothing to hide from them!


Summarize Thoroughly

Imagine you only have ten seconds to tell someone everything about your aircraft. Can you do it? You had better figure it out, because that is about the maximum length of time a person will look at text when they’re skimming. We live in the Age of Instant Access, so make sure you can attract buyers instantly.

Here’s a good example of a summary that’s making an impact – this 1978 Sundowner. They touch only on specific value-added items, plus appeal to the ease of taking this aircraft to the skies. Everything about this aircraft screams “turnkey and ready” – no wonder it has received over ten inquiries in three months!


Highlights

Speaking more towards the fast-paced society that we experience, sometimes you only have a few words to get out before that potential buyer moves on. The shiniest object in the room gets noticed first. This is where the Highlight tag (also known as Teaser Text) comes in handy.

Highlight Tags

When you drill down to a specific aircraft type, next to the photo on GlobalAir are a few words highlighted in red. Imagine this time that you only have two seconds to define the aircraft you have for sale. This should be a statement of value, such as “Only 130 hours SMOH” or “Price Reduced”. Also effective are things that make your aircraft a rare find, such as “Totally Rebuilt” or “Millennium Edition”. Even something as simple as “One Owner” or “Always Hangered” speaks to someone. The biggest crime here is leaving it blank, as you’ll be surrounded by aircraft that “speak louder” than yours.


Vote Early, Vote Often

While everything I’ve listed so far speaks to creating the most effective ad for your money, this tip speaks more to your continued involvement. The worst mistake you can do is believe your aircraft will “sell itself”. It doesn’t matter if you have the most pristine, low-time and/or cheapest aircraft on the market – if you’re not actively pushing it, it will take longer to sell.

So how can you be more active in getting your plane in front of the passive buyers (the ones that wait for the right deal to present itself instead of going out to find it themselves)?

One of the easiest is with your social media pages. At the top of every page on GlobalAir.com you will see quick links to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ - log into your social media account, click on the link, and post your ad to your personal page, and encourage your friends to share it. You already do this when playing games or sharing funny cat photos – may as well use your friend network to spread the word!

Feeling aggressive? Another option is a broadcast GlobalAir sends twice a month called Plane Mail. Imagine your aircraft e-mailed to over 50,000 aviation professionals and enthusiasts at once! Even if they aren’t buying currently, they probably know someone that is. And it’s an astonishingly inexpensive approach!


So what is the ultimate takeaway from this list? It boils down to 1. Set your ad up right, and 2. Stay involved in promoting it. If you think that’s too much to do, be prepared to have that aircraft for a while the go-getters snag all your potential buyers.

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