By Becky Meyer
Director of HR for Elliott Aviation
In our growing industry, many aviation companies struggle with recruiting top talent. While various challenges and factors exist, the biggest hindrance is attributed to lack of experience in positions, especially maintenance and avionics technicians. According to a survey issued by AIN , they show that 96% of the corporate aviation companies are looking to grow their staff while only 1 percent is forecasting a decline. With such a competitive market, it forces companies to look at many different ways to attract talent.
From a recruiting standpoint, we focus on our history and values. As a second-generation, family owned company, Elliott Aviation has been buying, selling and working on aircraft since 1936. Our values of unmatched quality, uncompromising integrity and unbeatable customer service serve as checks and balances for all of our employees. This simplifies our ability to make key tough decisions. If you come to work focused on those three key values, you are doing the right thing every day.
One of our successful strategies is hiring active and retired military veterans. Hiring from the military has proven to be fruitful for the aviation industry as well as Elliott Aviation. Military personnel bring a strong worth ethic, experience, and positive attitude to the industry. With on-the-job training and experience shown on their DD Form 214, we are able to help them obtain their A & P Certificate. This program allows us to build and retain a solid workforce.
Another pipeline of talent derives from graduates with an Airframe & Powerplant Certificate from colleges throughout the United States. However, location becomes a factor because many of the students attend local colleges to complete their degree. After school, employers battle with trying to relocate potential candidates. This presents employers with the challenge of creating lucrative incentives and benefits programs to attract and relocate talent to a new town.
>p>An area of long-range opportunity is high school students enrolled in auto mechanic courses. Currently, students and academic programs are pushing towards the diesel mechanic or auto mechanic profession without exploring aviation as a possibility. Our HR department connects with local schools to educate students about the possibilities of working in aviation. Additionally, we have conducted presentations and communicated with the Boy Scouts of America for an Aviation Explorers program.
Not only is recruiting key to this industry, but retention is also a priority. Having a well-thought out and educational onboarding program is crucial. Is it impetrative that companies establish a solid onboarding program because it presents the tools to help the employees succeed. Because of this, we are always building and expanding our program. Onboarding covers all paperwork, safety and technical training for the first week of employment. The employee is then assigned to a mentor for on-the-job training to ensure the proper skills and techniques are learned.
Currently our Quality Control Manager is working with the FAA to inquire about becoming a DME in order for employees to take their Oral and Practical testing onsite.
Becky Meyer comes to Elliott with 15+ years of Human Resource Management experience. Her career began working for the first Riverboat Casino business in Iowa where she specialized in Payroll. She then expanded her career and knowledge to the HR field in manufacturing and now aviation.
A maintenance facility recently asked me to explain what duties it may owe to an aircraft owner when the owner leaves his or her aircraft with the facility for service, other than the responsibility for performing repair or maintenance services on the aircraft as requested by the aircraft owner. This situation creates what many states refer to as a "bailment" and it does impose certain additional duties upon the maintenance facility.
So, what is a bailment? Well, the bailment relationship is created when:
- the aircraft owner (the "bailor") delivers the aircraft to the maintenance facility (the "bailee");
- the aircraft owner/bailor does not transfer ownership of the aircraft to the maintenance facility/bailee;
- the maintenance facility/bailee accepts the aircraft based upon an agreement with the aircraft owner/bailor that the aircraft will be returned to the aircraft owner/bailor; and
- return of the aircraft to the aircraft owner/bailor, the aircraft must be in at least the same condition it was in when delivered to the maintenance facility/bailee.
Once the bailment relationship is created, as a bailee of the aircraft, the maintenance facility has a duty to exercise reasonable care with respect to the aircraft based upon the maintenance facilities acceptance of possession of the aircraft and its subsequent exclusive custody and control over the aircraft. The maintenance facility/bailee must ensure that the aircraft is in at least the same condition as it was when it was delivered to the maintenance facility/bailee.
If the aircraft is damaged while it is in the exclusive custody and control of the maintenance facility/bailee and it is damaged (e.g. the aircraft is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed), the maintenance facility/bailee will be responsible for the damage unless the damage occurred in spite of the maintenance facility's/bailee's exercise of reasonable care. And, the maintenance facility/bailee will have the burden of proving that it was not at fault and the damage occurred despite its use of reasonable care.
To be clear, the maintenance facility/bailee doesn't become an insurer of the aircraft under the bailment relationship. However, the maintenance facility/bailee must use reasonable care; the type of care a reasonably prudent maintenance facility would exercise with respect to its own aircraft under similar circumstances which, of course, may vary depending upon the time and place or the custom and usage of maintenance facility.
Additionally, if the maintenance facility/bailee fails or refuses to deliver the aircraft to the aircraft owner upon demand, or if it uses or permits others to use the aircraft contrary to the aircraft owner's/bailor’s instructions, then the maintenance facility/bailee could also be liable for conversion. In that situation, the maintenance facility/bailee could be responsible for the value of the aircraft at the time of the conversion plus interest from that time.
However, the duty to return the aircraft is qualified: a maintenance facility/bailee may condition return of the aircraft upon the aircraft owner proving that the owner has title or right to possession of the aircraft, so long as the maintenance facility/bailee then does, in fact, provide an opportunity for the aircraft owner/bailor to present proof of title or right to possession. This rule is intended to protect the maintenance facility/bailee from being placed in the difficult position of risking a suit by the rightful owner of the aircraft for converting the aircraft when the maintenance facility/bailee gives the aircraft to another person who claims to be the owner of the aircraft. If the maintenance facility/bailee does not receive such proof, the maintenance facility/bailee will likely not be liable for conversion.
Unfortunately, this can potentially leave a maintenance facility/bailee in the unenviable position of having to decide to whom it should release the aircraft and to suffer the consequences if its decision turns out to be incorrect. In situations where the maintenance facility/bailee may be presented with multiple bills of sale or documents indicating security interests held by creditors, it may be difficult to figure out which party has the right to delivery and possession of the aircraft.
Another situation that may impact the decision to deliver the aircraft may arise if the maintenance facility/bailee has no been paid for its services. Depending upon the state in which the maintenance facility/bailee is located, it may be necessary for the maintenance facility/bailee to retain possession of the aircraft if it wants to assert a mechanic's or artisan's lien against the aircraft to secure payment of the amount owed for the work it performed. Retaining possession of the aircraft to perfect the lien would excuse the maintenance facility/bailee from complying with the aircraft owner's request for return of the aircraft and, as long as the lien claim was valid, the maintenance facility/bailee would likely not be liable for conversion of the aircraft.
So, what can a maintenance facility do to protect itself from potential liability under a bailment relationship? For starters, the maintenance facility should ensure that it is, in fact, exercising reasonable care with respect to the aircraft in its custody. Maintaining custody and control of the aircraft and taking reasonable precautions to minimize the opportunities for damage to aircraft will go a long way to avoiding claims.
Another option is to include language in the work order or service request signed by the aircraft owner that limits the maintenance facilities liability for negligent damage to an aircraft. This may include exclusion of damages for loss of use or diminution of value and it may cap or limit the total amount of damages for which the maintenance facility could be liable. Other language may be included to require that the aircraft owner carry certain minimum insurance and that the maintenance facility be protected by the owner's insurance.
In the end, when the maintenance facility accepts an aircraft owner's aircraft for service, in most cases a bailment relationship will result. Maintenance facilities should understand the duties and liability to which they may be exposed as a bailee in that relationship. With proper procedures and contractual planning, maintenance facilities can comply with their duties and limit their liability exposure in the bailment relationship.
|When comparing aircraft costs, understand what costs are included, what costs aren’t, and how the costs are calculated. If you don’t take all three into account, you can end up with cost data, that although technically correct when viewed alone, is an invalid comparison.
Let’s take an easy one. Fuel How much do you spend on fuel? We did this for a benchmark client, asking what their cost per gallon was for fuel at home and on the road, as well as their annual fuel budget. Seemed straightforward until I started looking at the results. At home, several operators reported fuel costs of less than $2.50 per gallon. This was when then national average was over $5 per gallon. I was able to follow up with the operators and I found out two things:
1. These operators had their own fuel farms.
2. The cost of fuel to them was the wholesale cost when the truck pumped the fuel into their storage tanks.
These operators correctly and accurately reported that their fuel cost at home was less than $2.50 per gallon. The cost of the installing and maintaining the fuel tank and operating their fuel truck, as well as the taxes and fees were all excluded from their cost of fuel. Those costs were in the cost of the hangar and grounds throwing that benchmark off as well. So my intent was to arrive at the “Total cost of fuel inclusive of every cost of every item needed to get the fuel into the aircraft tank.” But without a lengthly definition and explanation, how is an operator to know exactly what I need?
When comparing costs, you need to be clear and consistent in what costs are included and how those costs are calculated.
Another area where costs can be reported in disparate ways is maintenance. “What is your cost of maintenance?” is such an open, and loaded question. Do you get your aircraft maintained at a service center? Do you have in-house maintenance staff? Do you have inventory and how/where does that cost get recorded? Did you record the costs as an accrual or as they occurred?
As an example, take a major airframe inspection due every six years on a large business jet. The cost of that inspection is $240,000. As an answer to “what is your cost of maintenance?”, it could be:
1. $240,000 this year as the inspection was done this year ($600 per hour if flew 400 hours)
2. $40,000 per year accrual for six years (or $100 per hour is flying 400 hours each year)
While in our costing we look at the $100 per hour as the cost of the above inspection, neither accounting is incorrect. When comparing costs, we stress using an accrual method. This way the cost of something is allocated over the time it took to accrue that cost.
If budgeting, then you need to look at the timing of the cost. Comparing costs by looking at a budget can be helpful as it shows not only what the costs are expected to be, but when they are likely to occur. If you are evaluating the acquisition of a used aircraft, when the major airframe inspection is next due can be important. So while Both Aircraft A and Aircraft B can have a similar budget, Aircraft B may face that major inspection sooner than Aircraft A. This information is good to know.
Comparing aircraft costs should be done using a fair and consistent method. The timing of major costs should also be considered. While no one method is the best method, the comparison should be done on an “apples-to-apples” basis and then relative differences are what adds meaning to the comparison.