Business Jet Traveler magazine's fourth annual Reader's Choice survey is in their recent issue. They had over 1,200 readers respond, a new record for them. The big take-away from the survey is that things should continue to improve for business aviation. While about half stated their flying would remain at current levels, almost 40% stated they would fly a bit more or much more in the next year. Less than 10% said they would fly less in 2015.
The survey is to be posted online at bjtonline.com/2014survey. if you don't have access to the magazine. Here are my observations of that survey.
Why people fly privately doesn't really change. It saves time and general aviation serves many more airports than the airlines. The most important features people are looking for are range, economics, and cabin. I see that in my consulting. What was interesting in that group was that cabin amenities, product support and baggage were at the bottom of the important features list. I think it is because product support is generally good and everyone expects the cabin amenities to be about the same within categories. Baggage is likely a tertiary item, especially since seats are rarely filled on many trips. Safety is important with over half stating they only fly with operators that have passed a safety audit (I think it should be 100%).
Of the non-owned methods of flying, fractional, jet cards, and charter, all three rated very good to excellent in customer service and cleanliness of aircraft. Concerning choices of aircraft and age of aircraft, fractional and jet cards rated better than did charter. I was surprised at the charter choice of aircraft rating below the others.
When it came to value for the price paid, fractional and charter rated better than jet cards. I think jet cards took a hit there as they also took a lower rating for transparency/explanation of charges.
For the owned aircraft category, BJT separated fixed-wing and helicopters. Since people valued range, economics, and cabin, I looked at those related ratings from the owned group.
For the fixed wing: With respect to cost of maintenance, Embraer came out with the best ratings at 75.1% rating them excellent or very good. None of the other aircraft manufacturers listed had greater than 60% excellent or very good. Gulfstream rated over 99% excellent or very good for reliability. Everyone rated over 90% for reliability. Regarding cabin amenities, both Dassault and Gulfstream rated the best of the group. As both concentrate mostly on the large cabin jets, it makes sense that owners would be please with the offerings of the large cabin aircraft. Overall satisfaction was very good for everyone, but Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream did rate a bit higher then the others.
It looks like there were not a lot of responses from helicopter operators as only Airbus Helicopters (nee Eurocopter) and Bell were represented. Other than reliability, the helicopter manufacturers did not get as favorable ratings as did the fixed-wing. Cost of maintenance was a big knock against the helicopters with no one rating Airbus as excellent and Bell getting only 17.1% excellent ratings for their maintenance costs. I wonder if it is due to generally more complex maintenance requirements of a helicopter versus an airplane, especially with respect to time and cycle-limits on a helicopter's many components.
BJT did ask its reader's that if they could get a year of complimentary flying, which aircraft would it be for various categories of aircraft? Read the article to see what folks favored. For me, they didn't list a P51 Mustang nor an amphibious Twin Otter so my top choices were not there.
I'm hopeful that the BJT reader's interest in flying more in 2015 is representative of business flying in general. We shall see.