I spent last week in Atlanta, GA at the NBAA Leadership Conference. One question that I heard repeatedly throughout the week was, “How can we as flight departments be leaders in the discussion of how business aviation adds value to our communities and our economy?” In addition to the successful NBAA and GAMA No Plane, No Gain public campaign, I have started to see a positive trend in how flight departments are answering this question without intentionally doing it. Through their work to find ways to add even greater value to their organizations, they are creating positive ripple effects beyond the borders of our industry demonstrating the value that business aviation provides.
Over the last several years there has been a growing trend changing the role of flight departments, from being autonomous groups at the airport to becoming value-producing business units. Many flight departments are identifying ways to become more integrated into their organizations. It doesn’t matter if they are single aircraft single pilot operations for private owners or large multi-aircraft corporate flight departments, they are interacting more with “downtown” to better understand the current and future travel and business needs. They are identifying ways that their departments can proactively help satisfy their principles’ and organizations’ personal and company growth goals. They are doing this by creating more strategic aircraft utilization plans and longer term fleet plans resulting in better management of the value of their aviation assets, future investments, training and personnel costs and operating costs as well as providing better service to their organizations. Owners and owner companies are recognizing this shift. From my work with our clients whose flight departments are taking these proactive steps, I know that their principles are paying attention and valuing this shifting attitude and positive trend.
As flight departments and aviation related companies are working to change their roles in their own organizations, they are inherently and organically creating a shift in the understanding of the value business aviation provides. This is already developing ripple effects that are stretching beyond the hangar walls and the borders of our industry. Non-aviation members of these organizations are starting to better understand the value that business aviation can really offer. As this continues to happen, I suspect and hope that more people will discuss the value of business aviation outside of their own organizations in their communities further building the positive momentum that our industry needs.