June 2016 Aviation Articles

The Intern - Part 1

If you’re hoping to get a review of the movie, you’ve come to the wrong place.  I’m not exactly a Robert De Niro, nor do I work in the online fashion store business.  However, I do take notes from De Niro’s character in the movie and how he really embraces the opportunity to work for the online company and learn – no matter how old or how young.  

How does this relate to aviation?  Well, I recently started an internship for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) – a corporation created by the Minnesota law in 1943 to manage Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the six other General Aviation reliever airports in the Twin Cities area.  I currently work in Airside Operations at Terminal 1 at KMSP and have the privilege of getting to see pretty much the entire airport.

The People

I don’t remember much of my initial interview, but I do remember one of the staff commenting on my statement about being a hard worker.  He said something like “we only hire slackers here” and I knew that I would enjoy working in Airside Operations.  Like anything in life, jobs often require hard work, but I value the ability to have fun.  If you really enjoy your field, you’re most likely to have fun in your job and it doesn’t always feel like work.

The folks at the MAC and in Airside Operations have proved to be just that and whether we’re sitting in meetings, out on the airfield, or in the office, we’re guaranteed to have a laugh at some point.  My fellow interns, Whitney and Kristina, are proving to be good friends and colleagues already in the just these last two weeks.  It’s awesome to see them passionate about their careers along with those at the MAC and I know this summer is going to be an awesome one.

The Place

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that I really am working at my favorite airport in the country.  KMSP has been the jumping off point for so many adventures all over the country and the world and being able to see the inner workings over the last few weeks has been amazing.

I’ve gotten to see some amazing aircraft such as a C-17 from the Royal Air Force, a brand-new Airbus 330-300 for Delta, and many more.  I’ve also got to participate in airfield inspections, educational courses, and testing the friction value on runways.  Additionally, I’ve gotten “lost” in the terminals, taken the Light Rail, and “nerded” out over the whole airport in general.  The best part is that I can see myself working here sometime in the future and that is my next goal.  Anyways, there are three University of North Dakota graduates working in Airside Operations, so maybe I picked the right school after all (haha).

The Passion

Quite possibly the best part about being with the MAC this summer is the opportunity to pursue my passion for aviation and airports specifically.  After only two weeks here, I realize just how much I love airports and working at them.  The hustle and bustle, the aircraft, the people and seeing all the learning I’ve done translate into my job has been amazing.  

One last thing I remember from my interview with MAC was the answer to my question of what they hoped interns would take away at the end of the summer.  They want students to have their career choice confirmed through their experiences with the MAC – to know that airport management, operations, etc., is indeed what they want to pursue.

Until Next Time…

While I’m just two weeks into my internship, I’ve already learned a lot.  It’s been amazing to see KMSP from all sides, meet the people that work there, and experience the passion they have for their jobs.  It’s also been great to see how much I’ve learned in the classroom translate into everyday tasks.

Stay tuned over the summer and I’ll be back with more updates about my adventures with the MAC at KMSP!


FBO Mergers and Acquisitions What Next?

Not unexpectedly, the subject of FBO mergers and acquisitions was one of the many talking points at this years’ EBACE, the annual European Business Aviation Conference and Expo, held at the end of May in Geneva, Switzerland.

The BBA acquisition of Landmark Aviation at the start of the year and subsequent rebranding as Signature Flight Support took many by surprise. Having divested itself of six Landmark locations, Signature still find themselves with 199 worldwide stations.

EBACE hosted the “Big is Beautiful” consolidation discussion with Mark Johnstone, Managing Director, EMEA region, BBA Signature Flight Support, Laura Pierallini of Studio Pierallini, Patrick Hansen, CEO of Luxaviation Group, Greg Thomas, President and Executive Chairman of PrivatAir and myself representing Global FBO Consult. Moderator was Taunya Renson-Martin. Looking at business aircraft management, the FBO sector and charter operations it became clear quite quickly that there was agreement among the panellists that mergers and acquisitions in the FBO sector will certainly continue for some time. Consolidation in the sector offers advantages of branding, purchasing power and economies of scale. For the smaller FBO chains or independents finding themselves sharing the ramp with a new or rebranded, well-funded competitor, it is not good news and can lead very quickly to a price “race to the bottom”.


And BBA are not the only movers in the FBO market place of late. Just a day ahead of EBACE, Dubai based JetEx announced that is has secured a tender from the Moroccan National Airports Authority to establish five new FBOs, the first such facilities in the North African country. It has already begun business aircraft ground support at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport, Marrakech Menara and Rabat-Salé, where Swissport was also chosen to provide handling services. At the seasonal destinations of Agadir-Al Massira, and Dakhla, Jetex was named as the exclusive ground services provider. Jet Aviation, a General Dynamics company, seemed to be strongly hinting on their stand at two new locations to come very soon!

Luxaviation Group, new owners of well-established Execujet, Unijet (France), MasterJet (France), Abelag (Belgium), London Executive Aviation (UK), sound very bullish, so we can expect them to keep up the momentum for a while yet.

In the week following EBACE, French company Sky Valet announce it has completed the acquisition of JetBase, Portugal’s leading FBO network. JetBases’ ten FBOs, situated at the main Portuguese airports of Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Cascais and Beja, on the islands of Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde and in central Africa in Mozambique and Angola, will now operate under the commercial name of Sky Valet. This move follows on from the acquisition by Sky Valet in Q2 2015 of Gestair, Spain.

The addition of these new destinations consolidates Sky Valet’s international expansion strategy, which aims to create a network of FBOs located in the most iconic areas. The company already provides ground handling support services at Madrid, Barcelona, Gerona, Valencia, La Coruna, Santiago de Compostela, Palma de Majorca, Ibiza and Malaga airports. Dominique Thillaud, chairman of the management board of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur (ACA) and Sky Valet, commented, “This acquisition allows us to expand our expertise across a new attractive area of the Iberian peninsula with a reach that even extends to Africa.”

Last April, Florida based Sheltair Aviation announced it had given its FBO network in the Sunshine State a major boost with the purchase the Tampa International Jet Center.

In the same month there were further notable indicators pointing to the continuing trend of aviation fuel suppliers actively expanding their services and branding across the industry, working closely with independent FBOs.

Skylink Services, the lone ground handling service provider for business aircraft at Cyprus’s Larnaca International, became the 52nd Diamond Service member of the World Fuel Services (WFS) Air Elite Network, the international group of FBOs established in 2011 from the remnants of the Avitat network.

WFS and Deer Jet Group expanded their eight-year relationship by signing a memorandum of understanding for the former to provide global aviation support solutions for Deer Jet’s eight FBOs in China and business aircraft handling subsidiary Honor Aviation.

Under the agreement, World Fuel Services will allow Deer Jet FBOs and Honor Aviation to accept its Avcard charge card for payment. More than 30,000 aircraft operators and pilots use Avcard worldwide for aircraft purchases such as fuel, ground handling and maintenance. Avcard is accepted at more than 7,600 locations in more than 190 countries.

If you consider the known facts, talk to key personnel, listen to the rumours, filter out the uninformed comments, you will get a broad sense of how the FBO sector will evolve over the next five to ten years. I believe mergers and acquisitions will be accompanied by co-branding, strategic partnerships and franchising. Realistically the worlds’ capitals and most major cities are fully populated by FBOs, restricting expansion for those not already present in these centres, with many airports restricting the amount of FBO licenses they will issue compounding the problem. Other factors to be considered are the forthcoming sale of a number of airports (France, Germany for instance) and the issuing of new FBO franchise agreements by governments (Morocco just completed, Oman in the process and many more in the pipeline). Right now Africa, Central and South America, India and some of the Pacific Rim countries are getting a lot of attention, maybe it will be from these regions that we will see the next exciting developments emanate!

Interior Refurbishment with Resale in Mind

By Adam Doyle – Paint and Interior Sales Manager
Elliott Aviation

Whether you are purchasing an aircraft or thinking of selling your current aircraft, a little bit of interior refurbishment can go a long way. Potentially, partial refurbishments can dramatically affect the look and functionality of your aircraft interior so that it not only fits your short-term mission requirements, but will be more attractive for the next buyer of the aircraft.

Choose Colors Wisely
If you are not planning to own the aircraft for very long, make sure you choose colors that would benefit resale. Keep it clean and bright. Be sure to use neutral colors. If you do want to add a splash of color, make sure it’s something easy to replace such as an accent strip, curtain or pillows.

Most Dramatic Change
A partial change that is likely to have the biggest visual effect would be your seats and carpet. These items see the most traffic and ultimately get the most wear and tear. They trap a lot of dirt, odor and can become discolored.

If your base components are in good shape, you can make minimal changes that will make a big difference. For instance, if your seat foam is in good shape, you can potentially reuse your current foam and just re-cover your seats. If your seat leather is in good shape, a deep cleaning may make a dramatic difference. Depending on if the seats have been previously dyed, another option may be dying the seat leather.

There are many expensive hand-tufted carpets, but there are also many high-quality, durable machine tufted carpets. Although machine tufted carpets have a reputation of being lower quality, that is not necessarily the case. Many machined carpets offer similar quality at a lower price.

Cleaning Can Make a Difference
In addition to the carpets and seats, a deep cleaning can make a big difference. There are several tips and tricks we’ve covered in previous articles to clean woodwork, ultra leathers and more.

Potential Problem Areas
There are some areas in your aircraft interior that are potential problem areas and will not be resolved with a quick, inexpensive solution. The main areas would be popped, cracked or cloudy veneer, scratched laminate and plating.

When a veneer is popped, cracked, or cloudy, it has to be replaced. Many times, problems in veneer stem from when the original coating was applied. If the coating was applied too thick or was not given the proper drying time or conditions, major problems arise. The stresses an aircraft undergoes in a short amount of time, including major temperature and pressure changes, ultimately expose a veneer that was improperly coated.

Laminate is just a decorative layer of plastic. Since the printing on the laminate doesn’t go all the way through to the bottom, deep scratches can be very visible. The good news is that, for the most part, laminate tends to be very durable and is less likely to show minor scratches over other materials. Plating is one item that can be very expensive to replace. Unfortunately, there are very few options to fix plating other than to replace it completely.

Keeping the Resale in Mind
Keep in mind that your aircraft is competing with many other aircraft. It is not only competing within a particular make/model/year, but with many other aircraft makes and models in its class. The better you keep it looking and the more universal appeal it has, the better off you are when it comes to attracting the right buyer.

Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation, Adam has earned many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.

Ideas for the Ultimate Aviation Wedding

Love is certainly in the air! Photo by Kendra Lynne Photography.

It’s no secret that my life would be completely different if I had never gotten involved in aviation. I would not have been to so many places, met so many great people, and I may not have met my soon-to-be husband! A little over two years ago we met at the airport when he flew in and I was working as a recruiter for my flight school. I saw his handsome guy getting out of his Stinson 10A and asked him if he was planning to go flying any time soon. We took a short flight and immediately felt a connection. He asked me out on a real date for the next weekend, and our relationship grew through many adventures, flying and otherwise.

He asked me to marry him last October and it has been a rollercoaster planning for our August wedding. I never should have underestimated how many decisions and small details go into planning a wedding. When both the bride and groom are pilots that are very passionate about aviation, it’s only natural to have some elements of that world on your big day. I have been researching this a lot lately and I would like to share some of the best ideas I have come across.

Location – You can’t get much more aviation themed than having your wedding at an airport. Hangars make the perfect venues, with their large open space and proximity to beautiful airplanes. Another option is to have it outside at a grass airfield, with chairs and a tent set out for guests. I know of a few hangars around the area that specifically rent out their space for big events and weddings, but there are also plenty of privately owned hangars and airfields that it would be worth seeing if you could rent for an evening.

Invitations via Design4Eternity, LetterBoxInk, and Tulaloo.

Invitations – One of the first things your guests will see that reflect your wedding style is the invitation. There is a plethora of sites out there that sell wedding invitations, but Etsy is a particularly great resource for aviation themed invites. Their styles range from a simple airline silhouette to a full on replica of an airline ticket. Guests will love seeing these unique and beautiful invites in their mailboxes, and it will set the stage for your aviation wedding.

Decorations – Arguably one of the most important parts of any big event is the decoration. They help transform a normal place into something magical by creating an atmosphere for the guests. Brides and grooms who pay attention to the details will love adding a few nods to aviation in their decorating. Pinterest is full of great ideas to elegantly decorate, including champagne glasses with airplanes etched into them and "pilot/copilot" signage. You could ago get more DIY with your decorations, such as using a logbook for the guest book.

Via Southern Weddings and Rock N Roll Bride.

Accessories – If there is anything a pilot knows about it is accessorizing. Aviator sunglasses, "remove before flight" key chains, and watches with fancy flight computers can often be seen at your local airport. If you aren’t quite ready to make the whole wedding aviation themed, subtle accessories can help tie in your passion to the big day. What about a pair of high altitude chart cufflinks? There’s always the option of wearing a striking pair of airplane heels.

The Cake – One of the ways that I am sharing my aviation love on our big day is through the cake. The bride’s cake topper features a biplane silhouette and the groom’s cake will be an edible replica of the red biplane we often fly. I have seen cake toppers of the couple in an airplane, and cakes decorated with runways running down the sides. If you get a great cake designer, there’s no limit to the cakes you could amaze your guest with!

The Getaway – I think it almost goes without saying that a licensed pilot could do one of the coolest getaways ever. Imagine having all of your family and friends watching as you fly away into the sunset with the love of your life. This was a huge plus to me when I was considering having our wedding at an airfield. Leave your guests with an unforgettable ending to their night and show off your piloting skills at the same time!

I hope that some of these ideas have inspired you in any wedding or event planning you have. There are thousands of resources out there to help, and you should take pride in showing off your aviation-filled life!

You Know You're A Minnesota Pilot When...

Being a huge fan of Minnesota (born and raised, ya sure, you betcha) I’m pretty sure that Minnesota pilots are a special breed.  As summer is just around the corner, I’ll be highlighting some Minnesota-type flying activities that you’re sure to find those Minnesota-inclined pilots heading too when the days get longer and warmer.

Your Saturdays Consist of Coffee, Donuts, & Safety

Let’s face it:  safety should be our #1 focus in aviation.  While we may not all practice what we preach, there’s a long-time tradition of mixing coffee, donuts, and safety all into a fun Saturday tradition in the Twin Cities area.


Several years ago, my old boss from Inflight Pilot Training, LLC, started weekly safety seminars at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (KFCM) located in Eden Prairie, MN.  What started out as a handful of seasoned pilots based on the field with donuts and coffee, this event blossomed into nearly 100 pilots every week attending seminars featuring various safety topics such as weather, medical issues, maintenance, new technology, and much more.  Now, AirTrekNorth, a flight schovol started in Lakeville, MN, carries on the tradition in their KFCM location.

While you may have thousands of hours, or you’re just starting to fly, the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has turned to a creative way to approach many safety topics affecting pilots today.  They also have the WINGS program which allows you to get credit for the training you complete online with organizations such as AOPA and the FAA through training, such as the Saturday seminars.

After the seminar, you will find pilots milling about for hours talking flying (if the weather is bad), or they inevitably go to their own hangars and get their aircraft ready for a spin in the beautiful Minnesota weather.

You Fly to the North Shore

While Minnesota doesn’t have the ocean to boast of when referring to great scenic flights, we do have the North Shore – a.k.a., the shores of Lake Superior which is one of the largest, freshwater lakes in the country. 

Flying to the North Shore in the summer can be a great way to beat the heat.  Some great destinations include Duluth International Airport. Sky Harbor Airport (near downtown Duluth), Two Harbors, and many more.  Many of these small, North Shore towns boast spectacular views of the lake including great restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the Twin Cities. 


If you’re considering making a weekend out of it with family or friends, head to Duluth International Airport and find a rental car or courtesy car from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO).  There are several great hotels in downtown Duluth on the shore or further into the city.  There’s an aquarium, museum, and much more to do in town.

Flying north of the Twin Cities to the North Shore gives you a great flight to experience Minnesota and is a great way to get your Minnesota flying friends together for a day – besides, building cross-country time is always a bonus. 

You Go to the WOTN Air Expo Every Single Year

Another great aspect of Minnesota flying is the Wings of the North (WOTN) Air Expo held every year at KFCM.  What started as a non-profit organization in the late ‘90s, designed to preserve and present aviation history, it has blossomed into a Twin Cities aviation fixture.

Their museum is located at KFCM and WOTN hosts the Air Expo every July featuring many aviation organizations in the community with sponsors from Sun Country Airlines, Minnesota Flyer magazine, UTC Aerospace Systems and more.  WOTN also brings in many static displays from public and private collectors from all eras of aviation including World War I (WWI), WWII, and more. 

This great family event is a fun way to connect with those in the community and meet other pilots from the area as they all come flocking to this annual event.   It’s also a great way to support a local non-profit whose mission is to preserve aviation history. 

Overall, Minnesota is really a great place to be a pilot.  With all of the seminars, fly-ins, local airshows, cookouts, and destinations, it can be hard to find the time to actually get it all done!  As a pilot, we’re always looking for new places to go, so start your wish list now for Minnesota and start checking those boxes off.

Remember, you only have so much summer to get it done!  Happy flying!

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