All posts tagged 'Conklin & DeDecker'

The Business Mission Drives The Aircraft Mission

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!

Hire an A&P, Save Money!

With most business aircraft operators us trying to conserve money and cut back on expenses, we get questions about outsourcing maintenance versus having an in-house A&P.  While we deal with aircraft costs everyday, there is also service to consider. 

In general, the major maintenance items require a level of equipment and man-power that only a major service center can cost-effectively provide. Not only for an engine or other component overhaul, but also many major airframe inspections require extensive special tools or access to equipment that the small operator would seldom use. Only a very large operator would attempt such a repair in-house. Even most of the major airlines outsource those major inspections and component overhauls. 

But, for routine maintenance, an in-house A&P can be worth far more than their salary.

If there is a service center at home station and they provide good service, it can be cost effective to simply have the service center perform the maintenance rather than employ a full-time maintenance staff. Especially if that service center operates around the clock, or close to it. If you may have a scheduled trip at any hour, any day of the week, keeping two or three shift coverage for maintenance can be costly. An example of this was a client of ours in the Southwest US. His hangar for the Lear was next to an authorized Lear service center, so he was never more than five minutes away from his maintenance facility. He had high dispatch reliability and reasonably fast response times from them. He also had been based there for 20 years and had a very good rapport with the local service center.

If your service center of choice is 400 miles away, then you have the added cost of maintenance ferry flights to and from the facility. For a turbine aircraft that costs $1,500 per hour, each round trip to the service center can add $3,000 or more to the bill. Plus, on the (rare) occasion that your aircraft is grounded at home, waiting for the A&P to show up can cause an unacceptable delay. At a minimum you need some level of immediate service available. 

An in-house maintenance staff also gives you someone who knows your aircraft intimately. That individual not only goes to school for your make/model aircraft, they also learn the intricacies of your specific tail number. I know aircraft are mechanical devices, but I swear each aircraft does have its own personality. Given the level of options and outfitting, each aircraft does have subtle differences compared to other serial numbers. The notes a skilled A&P makes in the margins of the service manuals are sometimes worth more than the manuals themselves. 

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The response time of in-house maintenance staff is immediate. Think of the in- house A&P like having a fire department close to your home. If your house catches fire, you want the fire department there as soon as possible. If the aircraft has a flat tire, and the boss wants to leave in an hour, you want that tire changed as soon as possible.  In-house maintenance gives you the dedicated response on your schedule and is dedicated to serving just you. 

When it comes to major maintenance like a 12-year airframe or a major refurbishment, having a knowledgeable A&P who works for you monitor the progress with the service center can result in an on-time completion close to budget. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." While a good service center will make every effort to get everyone's job done on time, the personal attention from you're A&P will make that much higher likely to occur. 

I've heard from an operator of a large business jet that their A&P's salary was paid for at the first major inspection. That A&P worked closely with the service center and made sure the work was done on time, and that any questions that the service center team had were addressed immediately. If you are investing in a multi-million dollar aircraft, the $100,000 per year for maintenance staff (and training, etc) is cheap insurance in maintaining aircraft availability and in keeping maintenance costs under control. 

The more valuable the aircraft, and the more valuable the aircraft owner’s time, the more worthwhile the in-house A&P becomes. 

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