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Recurring Thoughts

by David Wyndham 16. November 2016 11:33
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I have done some reflection on the past year. This was fueled by several conversations and sessions during the recent NBAA convention in Orlando. It has been supported by some of the consulting work I've done this year as well. I come to several recurring themes. I think all combined, they can help business aviation tell, and sell, our story.

Learn the language of business.We need to understand the languages of business as well as aviation.  Acronyms and jargon shorten the conversation for "insiders" but serve to confuse and exclude those not in the group. Aviation leaders  need to be bilingual in understanding the language and needs of aviation and business. An example of this is building the case to replace your aircraft. You need to explain the value of the new aircraft to the business in terms of being more effective and safe at accomplishing the mission. You better brush up on Net Present Value when talking to the CFO about the costs, too.

Run the aviation department like a business.The business aircraft adds value to the effectiveness of those who fly on it.  Your customers are the passengers and the product is the transportation. You are responsible to the shareholders (CEO, Board, etc). You know you need to develop a budget.  Use it like a "profit & loss."  The profit is the increased effectiveness and flexibility the aircraft provides. Take care of your people and look for ways to do a better job with the assets at your disposal. Develop meaningful metrics that tie into the effectiveness and efficiency of using the aircraft. Track and report them.

First, define and agree on the assumptions.This is for both developing a budget and for discussing options for the aviation department. Before you submit your budget, first have the discussion with the users and financial team about what they expect. If the users need 700 flight hours and expect simultaneous aircraft available one or two days per week, then get that agreement up front. Then you can provide the budget necessary to accomplish that mission. You can't do that with one aircraft and two pilots. If your flying is increasing, then it is reasonable to expect that your budget will, too. If the priority is that your budget must be reduced by 15%, then users need to understand how that affects your ability to deliver. If your budget is based on $3.50 per gallon fuel, what happens if fuel costs go up next year? This works for the mission as well.  If we agree that non-stop range with four passengers must be 2,300 NM, that will set up a set of requirements for the aircraft specifications. By agreeing on the assumptions, the discussion then becomes what resources are necessary to meet the obligations.

Use data, not opinions.If you need additional staffing, it can't be based on a feeling.  Likewise, justifying replacing your current aircraft needs to be supported by data. Gather your facts and be prepared to develop and explain the logic used.   If your assumptions are agreed to up front, and your recommendation is fact-based, then the discussion can be handled with reason.  When I consult with individuals and companies about their aircraft, I keep everything fact based. The  person signing the check can use emotion in the aircraft decision, but not me.

Listen actively.

Active listening is a communication technique that requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.  Two tips for you. Remember what mom said, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." Mom was right. No checking your email or multitasking of any kind. It does not work. Maintaining eye contact in a conversation tells the other person that they are important as well as is what they have to say. The second tip is to suspend judgment while you listen. Many of us start  forming our reply while the other person is talking. Talk the time to concentrate on what is being said and how the person is saying it. So often we jump to the conclusion before someone is finished talking and miss their point entirely. Think of listening like a checklist, you take each step in order and confirm that it was accomplished. 

Business aircraft are productive and efficient tools. Their main value is in enabling the face to face communication we humans need in order to understand and be understood. All the above can help us be better in justifying, selling, and communicating the value aircraft add to a business. 

 

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Aviation Technology | David Wyndham | Flight Department

Great Person vs Great Leader

by Lydia Wiff 15. November 2016 10:00
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It’s Election Day as I sit here writing this week’s post.  I imagine all of us have been turning over in our minds the concept of who we would consider a leader or what makes a leader lately.  It does not matter what job you hold—a teacher, a manager, a pilot—you name it, you always be under a leader.  For those reasons, I have decided to discuss a popular leadership theory and research into leadership development.

The “Great Man” Theory

A “great man/woman” theory is probably the most traditional theory of leadership.  Historians have been using this theory for years and famous leaders are characterized by two specific factors:

     1. A galvanizing experience (overcoming some potentially fatal illness)

     2. An admirable trait (persistence, optimism, intelligence, etc.) that is possessed to a certain degree

Individuals such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and others come to mind when examining the “great man/woman” theory.  We read about those individuals and think “If only I could be like so and so!”  It turns out that while these folks really are great leaders, there is a modest relationship at best between intelligence and leadership effectiveness (You are probably rethinking Churchill as your personal hero right now).  

If we examine biographies of famous leaders further, we find our heroes were in a specific set of circumstances that was combined with individual attributes of those leaders.  For instance, Harry Truman led the United States to victory in World War II (WWII).  However, looking back, he was actually thrust into the position of president after the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR).  Here we have a set of circumstances (FDR’s death and WWII) combined with the Truman’s past experiences and individual qualities that had shaped him as a person and a leader before he was prematurely thrust into the position as the leader of our country.

For some reason, our thinking is that someone has to go through some dramatic life story that explains how he or she became this great leader.  We actually see this commonly when leaders write their biographies that tell of their childhood and how they became who they are today.  While everyone loves good story, it does not touch on what is probably more important than a dramatic life experience:  leadership is developed, not made.

Developing Leadership

You may have heard the popular quote “A leader is born, not made”.  While there are individuals out there who are more prone to becoming good leaders, there is research that points towards developing leadership as opposed to developing leaders.

David Day, an Industrial-Organizational psychologist, made a distinction between the concept of “leader development” and “leadership development”.  A leader develops individual knowledge, skills, etc., while development of leadership focuses on developing the leader-follower relationship.  This includes an environment that a leader can build these relationships in that will enhance the cooperation of individuals and an exchange of resources.  To develop as a leader, you would focus on skills, knowledge and other individual attributes.  To develop your leadership, you would focus the interaction between leaders and followers.  Day describes this relationship between followers and leaders—a social exchange—as the essence of leadership. 

Day further argues that to develop leadership, the single most important “ability” that will create leadership opportunities is that of interpersonal competence.  Interpersonal competence is comprised of the social awareness and skills that tie back into his theory that the leader-follower relationship is a social exchange.  Day seeks not only develop leadership in the individual but also encourage a leader to create a group that that can work together to embrace changes in addition to creating and implementing them. 

While Day is not focused so much on the training and development of leaders (what we would most likely consider development), he uses training and development as a backdrop instead of the forefront.  However, Day does not completely rule out individual attributes and agrees they are important – without them, a leader would be unlikely or even unable to develop the leadership within a group.  Day simply argues that leadership should not stop at the individual – the development needs to take into consideration the ultimate success of the organization and how the group contributes to that as a whole.

When it comes down to it, someone using Day’s theory of leadership development would ask, “’How can I participate productively in the leadership process?’”.

Leadership Development in Progress

I realize that I have a variety of readers here, so I will not presume to say I have leadership development all figured out – in fact, I know I do not.  However, I am a firm believer in taking the opportunities presented to me, whether they were intentionally offered or not.  This might seem a little vague, but just recall group projects from classes past, a task from your boss, etc.  Whether consciously or not, there are many opportunities to develop your leadership, formally or informally.  The most important thing is that we continue to develop our leadership, instead of focusing on just our individual attributes.

As John C. Maxwell once wrote Everything rises and falls on leadership.

 

References

Landy, F. & Conte, J. (2016). Work in the 21st century (5th ed., pp. 154-157). Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.

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Lydia Wiff

Top 5 Interesting Airport Facts

by Tori Williams 1. November 2016 20:30
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This semester has been one long lesson into all things airport operations related. When I am not at school taking such classes as Airport Operations and Aviation Administration Decision Making, I am at the Lexington airport soaking up knowledge from my airport operations internship. I have never had a semester where I felt I experienced and could apply the material I was learning in such a way as this. I have been extremely blessed with my internship and the amazing professors at Eastern.

In a strange way, my lessons outside of the classroom have lined up perfectly with the lessons in class more times than I can count. For example, we had a lesson about airport wildlife management at school and then during my time at the airport that day we encountered birds, deer, and checked the wildlife traps. My coworkers are very good at turning things we encounter into learning moments, so I have heard countless stories and gotten hands-on experience with a lot of things my classmates are only reading about.

During this awesome semester I have learned a few airport facts that truly surprised me. I gathered my top five to share here.

1. Airports make an enormous percentage of their revenue from parking

I was surprised to find out that of the overall revenue that airports acquire, non-aeronautical revenue accounts for nearly half of the total. This exact number of their non-aeronautical revenue is 44.8%, according to one study. Parking and transportation alone contribute to 41.2% of the total revenue, putting it in a category of its own. This is one of those facts that make sense if you think about it, after all airports almost always charge for parking and thousands of cars come through every day. Several major airports also contract out parking. Companies will bid on a parking contract and whoever wins is in charge of parking at that airport. This seems to be efficient for both the airport and the parking companies.

2.TSA is under a microscope

Nobody particularly enjoys going through TSA, and it often seems ridiculous to have to remove your belt and shoes to not be a threat to national security. However, one fascinating thing I have learned is that TSA often gets tested themselves. The TSA inspector will occasionally send volunteers, usually new airport employees who have not been seen by TSA yet, though the TSA security line with explosives or other prohibited items stashed in their carry-on. In some cases, they will even strap the prohibited substance to the bodies of the volunteers to see if the TSA screener can find it that way. The supervisor on shift is made aware before testing begins so they will be prepared and not let the screener call airport police on the volunteer. Thankfully Lexington has been extremely successful in their testing, but other airports have not been so lucky.

3. Airports send birds to The Smithsonian

Whenever there is a bird strike and the airport cannot discern the species of bird, they must send DNA to The Smithsonian. That can be feathers, a sample of the bird guts, or both, depending on the state of the animal when they are found. The Smithsonian then analyzes the DNA to accurately identify the species of bird, and returns that information to the airport to include in their wildlife strike report.

4. Airport record keeping is insane

One thing I instantly noticed about working in operations is that there are dozens of large, thick binders filled with papers that they are constantly referencing, updating, and archiving. The airport is required to keep certain records for up to two years. That means that even if someone hasn’t worked at the airport in a year and a half, they still have a massive binder dedicated to them with all of their training records. Other binders include the unofficial version of the airport certification manual, dozens of maps of the airfield, badging applications, and many more that I have not yet seen. Someone could easily spend days reading these binders and not see half of the material the airport keeps on hand.

5. Airport expansion is very complicated

Commercial and GA airports alike face a number of challenges when it comes to growth. Many communities do not understand how great aviation can be for their local economy, so they oppose runway expansion projects and even the simplest changes to the airport. I found it particularly interesting using Lexington as a case study, as their airport is surrounded by horse farms owned by some of the biggest names in horse breeding and racing. It would be extremely difficult for them to expand because of the value of the land around them. Airports constantly have to balance growth with community relations, far more than several other industries.

I hope that you have learned at least one interesting fact by reading this article, and I can’t wait to learn more as I become more knowledgeable on airport operations! It is a whole world of intricacies and innovations that I am lucky to be part of!

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Airports | Tori Williams

Trade Show? I Think You Mean Fun Show!

by Lydia Wiff 1. November 2016 10:00
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Growing up, I always remember my dad attending trade shows for the different companies he worked for.  Now, he was an engineer, so I always assumed they were pretty boring (sorry, Dad!).  It didn’t matter if he came home with all the trade show cool swag like pens, pencils, reusable bags, hats, or stress balls (to a kid, those things are like gold).  Several years later, I have learned that trade shows, aviation ones of course, are tons of fun and the opportunities to network and learn are endless!  This post will cover a few that I have had the chance to personally attend as well.

Air Venture

What summer would be complete without a trip to Oshkosh, WI for the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Air Venture?  I know, people don’t really think of it as a trade show, but have you really looked around when you’ve been there?

Icon is giving demos of their recreational aircraft (you can fish from it!), Cirrus is writing up orders for their new jet, and general aviation is absolutely thriving during this aviation extravaganza.  Hundreds of companies tote their wares all week in the hope they will meet new customers, see their current customers, and really just get their name out there.  9am-5pm are the show hours, but networking goes on for hours after the show is closed.

Companies like Cirrus, Piper, Pilatus, Kodiak, and many other woo their customers and new clients with cookouts, dinners, and more.  New products get shown over dinner and deals get sealed by the time the dessert menu gets passed around.  Additionally, this “trade show” features class acts from aerobatics pilots, showcases military aircraft from every era of aviation, in addition to the biggest pyrotechnic show you’ll ever see at an airport (actually, it’s probably the only one at an airport). 

I love going to Oshkosh when I have the chance and even if you aren’t working with a company, it’s a great place to network.  Just sitting at lunch one day this summer, I met a pilot who flies for SkyWest – now, tell me that Air Venture isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have at a “trade show”. 

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

The second trade show I’ve had the opportunity to attend is that of the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas in November 2015.  This particular trade show caters to any type of business with a corporate flight department in the United Sates and all over the world. 

I had the opportunity to attend last fall with a group from the University of North Dakota (UND).  Since we were students attending, we got a huge break in the conference fee and by that I mean it was so affordable even for a poor, college student!  All we had to do was take care of meals, flights, and lodging.  I found some fellow students from Purdue University who were members of Women in Corporate Aviation which proved to be a great networking opportunity in and of itself. 

Additionally, there were many universities that had their own booths at BACE including any company you could possibly think of.  I actually sat on one of the shuttle buses with a gentleman from Italy who worked for Pilatus – I told you it was a worldwide affair!  I also had the chance to meet those from other companies at the different booths in addition to after-hours functions.  A fun memory was going to the Las Vegas Executive Airport and looking at all of the static aircraft displays.  Gulfstream had many different aircraft on display, which is one of my favorite business jet manufacturers.

Lastly, NBAA BACE was a great way to faces to names.  I actually got to meet the owners of Globalair.com and those that had given me the blogging scholarship that year.  If I wasn’t so busy with classes, I’d be back this year promoting the scholarship!

Why Trade Shows?

You’re probably sitting there wondering why you should go to trade shows in general.  Besides the FUN aspect of trade shows, it’s important to continue to network even though you might currently be a student, or even if you are well into your career.

Last year, I had a professor that really pushed students to attend NBAA and to network in general.  In fact, many of my professors, including my adviser, always push students to get their names out there.  It doesn’t matter if it’s introducing yourself to a guest lecturer, meeting alumni, or attending trade shows.  I guess what I’m getting at here is that you never know what’s around the corner and growing your professional network only builds your contact list in addition to the possible jobs that could arise from it. 

Plus, going to these events is a great way to catch up with alumi!  I love running into people I know at these events – it makes the event that much more memorable and we get to talk about aviation (I mean, who doesn’t?).


Remember, NBAA BACE is just around the corner!

November 1-3, 2016 – Orlando, FL

Visit the Globalair.com booth – Booth 4936!

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GlobalAir.com | Aircraft For Sale | Lydia Wiff | NBAA | UND



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