Most of the consulting my company does focuses on making recommendations for the getting most cost effective aircraft for the mission. As part of that we look at many different things, all quantifiable. What is the primary, or key mission for the aircraft? What must this aircraft do to be considered successful? We work with the aircraft owner, the major users, and, with input from the flight department, develop the measurements of success.
We translate that key mission into quantifiable measures like range, cabin size, speed, payload, take-off and landing performance and many other measures. The mission (VIP transport, EMS, wildlife management, you name it) defines the criteria. We look for the aircraft capable of meeting or exceeding these requirements. Next comes the financial analysis. We know to look at more than just the cost to acquire the aircraft. We take into account all the costs associated with the aircraft . We look at the operating costs of the options. We estimate a residual value at the end of a predicted ownership term. We may look at new versus used, or leases, financing, and cash purchases. And don't forget the ownership structure and tax considerations.
All this time we work to translate the needs of the customer (aircraft owner) into quantifiable items that we can compare, rank order, and look for a best value option. Some owners state outright that they never lease, or that the aircraft must be in a separate legal entity to mitigate some of the ownership risk. Some will not consider chartering their aircraft while they are not flying. At all times, we seek the middle way between cost and performance.
Business aircraft are business tools whose main return on investment is maximizing the use of time by minimizing the travel time. We look to show the benefits of this "time machine" along with the costs to use it. Sometimes this means a single-engine piston. Other times it can work all the way into a global business jet. Again, the mission defines the requirements which define the aircraft types.
At the end of our analysis, we present a report with supporting documentation. We avoid jargon so that the CEO, the CFO, and the aviation manager can all understand the analysis. The report ends with a summary and recommendation. We always aim to show several options and the costs of those options. Option one may be the most cost-effective aircraft. That aircraft may do what is required, but not a lot more. A second option may exceed many of the performance criteria but at a higher total cost. It feels good when discussing the report to see agreement and nods of approval.
But, every once in a while...
Anyone involved in the acquisition process has seen this. You do the analysis, get the charts and photos and spreadsheets ready. The numbers are clear, Aircraft A is the best option. Aircraft B would be a good second choice. Its all there in black and white. A few days or weeks later you get the news. The owner decided on Aircraft D! In your analysis, Aircraft D was not even a third option. What happened! What did we fail to take into account.
Emotion. Our analysis and recommendations are all based on quantifiable measures that take into account the stated mission of the aircraft. It did not account for how gorgeous Aircraft D looks, especially with that optional interior and paint job! It did't account for the fact that the owner's golf partner has Aircraft A, which is smaller than Aircraft D. Maybe the sales person for Aircraft D really hit it off the with owner. There are many emotional "reasons" that the top choices are not selected. We did our job and presented the facts. I'm not the one writing the check.
Remember, Lola gets what Lola wants.