I was at the 20th NBAA Leadership Conference last week in Austin, TX. I am also on the Corporate Aviation Management Committee (CAMC) and one of our sub-committees is responsible for putting the conference together. This year’s event was a true success. There were over 300 attendees (a record); most of the attendees were the current and upcoming leaders of some of the best flight departments in the country. The quality of speakers and the energy of everyone there was outstanding. Being with the members of these flight departments as well as in our CAMC meeting that occurred before the conference, there is clear evidence that there is an undercurrent of change in our industry and it is exciting. The change is in the mentality of our flight departments and the leaders at all levels within them (being a leader does not mean being the boss).
Our company created an information resource almost fifteen years ago called the Aviation Asset Manager Portfolio. It was a customized report that helped an owner evaluate whether and when to reinvest or transition their aircraft based on how it fulfilled their mission today and what was expected tomorrow as well as evaluating the competitive market conditions. What was revolutionary about it was that it was the first time that I am aware of that anyone in our industry called aircraft “assets”. That shift in thinking has permeated all of our work for the last fifteen years and it is now clear that it is permeating the industry too. When members of flight departments and owners recognize and accept that paradigm shift is exactly when a flight department starts to really add value to the organization they are part of; regardless of whether they are a one pilot, one aircraft operation or a large corporate flight department with lots of pilots and lots of aircraft.
Aircraft will always be cost centers for an organization, but they can and do add value. Aviation Asset Managers (Aviation Directors, Maintenance Directors, Chief Pilots, Line Captains, Line Maintenance, Schedulers and anyone else in the flight department who accept the paradigm shift) are the true leaders of tomorrow. They are forward thinking and proactive. They don’t just fly a trip, land and park the aircraft and then walk away until the next day. They take a little time to clean the aircraft, troubleshoot and fix small discrepancies to keep them from becoming bigger issues later and they update their records and charts without procrastinating. These are simple things, but actually doing them takes a little extra effort although it consistently saves money and help better preserve the value of the asset for when the time comes to sell it. More than just those things, however, being an Aviation Asset Manager means talking to your organization to proactively understand their needs. Are the mission requirements changing today or are they expected to change tomorrow? Are there opportunities to create efficiencies in your operation or better schedule the aircraft that can both save money and also better fulfill your organization’s needs? How will future compliance requirements affect your operation? Will your aircraft still fit the needs of the organization in a few years or will you need longer range or more space? Getting ahead of the game to plan for these required upgrades will allow you to better schedule the downtime and potentially save money. If you will need something different, does investing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more today make sense in the long run vs. starting to work with your organization to think about planning for an aircraft transition? Aviation Asset Managers are proactive and not reactive. They consider these things and they don’t shy away from communication with their principles to help find the best solutions for the greater organization’s needs. Those are attributes that true leaders possess and today’s up and coming aviation leaders embrace them and many others that I will continue to talk about in future posts.
And one final thought about this year’s NBAA Leadership Conference….Congratulations Robin Eissler with JetQuest and Chris Adams with FlightSafety International who were the co-chairs of the event. Thank you for all that you did to make this a success!