Do You Know What You Don't Know?

Within aviation, there are a lot of specific disciplines with highly specialized knowledge: pilot, A&P Mechanic, scheduler/dispatcher, medical examiner, air traffic controller. All these folks have significant education and depth of knowledge within their specialties. But, if you take us outside our area of specialization, it is amazing how much we don't know. 


How does a zipper work?


While we all use them quite successfully, do you understand the mechanics of it?  It is the same with buzz words and jargon. We may use them regularly, but when you dig into it, we me not all have the same understanding. 


"NextGen" may make sense to many as it describes our future airspace navigation and control. But when you ask what getting ready for NextGen really means, we differ in our depth of knowledge.

Psychologists call this the illusion of explanatory depth. We think we know what we know, but we really don't have the depth of knowledge that leads to understanding. This can lead to difficulties when recommending and evaluating aircraft.


The pilot is quite skilled at looking at the performance parameters of the various aircraft. What is the range and payload that we need to carry? Can this aircraft handle icing conditions? How much runway do we need?


The A&P can go into depth about a progressive maintenance schedule and how it might impact your flight schedule. What sort of tooling does the aircraft require? What do you need to stock for spares? 


The scheduler/dispatcher will have a good understanding of what the executives like and don’t like, Will the 6 foot 3 inch CEO will feel claustrophobic in a small jet? Which infrequent traveler still expects to carry a steamer trunk full of clothes on an overnight trip?


Now add in the senior executives, legal and tax folks. How do we acquire the aircraft? What about taxes, depreciation, maintaining trade-in value, leases, management agreements...


In the case for business aircraft, there isn't room enough to go into every instance of how we in aviation misunderstand the Senior Executives and them, us. But, when communicating about the aircraft, its capabilities, and costs, we need to have an understanding of the fact that we may not have all the information about the business to understand why they make the decision that they do. And they don't understand the aircraft as much as we might believe. So we need to do our best to explore the gaps in knowledge and be open to new concepts. Do not assume just because the CEO had an aircraft at their former company that they understand crew rest, maximum range, and sales and use taxes on the plane.

To properly go through the acquisition of an aircraft will require folks with many disciplines. And it would help if you have at lease one person on the team who knows what they (and others) don’t know. 


When we are working with a client regarding their options for an aircraft, or with the aviation department in their justification for a replacement of the current aircraft, it helps to understand not only their measurable requirements such as payload, trip length, etc. but to also understand their culture and depth of knowledge about business aviation.

Oh, how does a zipper work?