NAFA member, Peter Antonenko, Chief Operating Officer at Jetcraft, discusses the business of business aviation.
I’ll come right out and say it: I love airplanes, I love flying, and I love the business of business aviation. The combination of short-field landing capabilities, range and speed make private aircraft a perfect corporate tool. But something that’s often overlooked is how business aviation has an exceptionally broad range of utilizations, particularly in times of crisis, supporting air ambulance, cargo, and governmental missions.
Many industries have done an excellent job pivoting to meet the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic – distilleries making hand sanitizer, fashion brands stitching surgical masks and car manufacturers producing ventilators. At Jetcraft, we are proud and privileged to be part of a sector that was ready to act when needed.
For example, aircraft cabins configured to carry the same life support equipment found in trauma centers have been used widely to transport patients, especially during this crisis. The variety of these specially equipped business jets gives people access to larger hospitals regardless of how small their local runway is, or how far they need to travel. This medical capability was true before Covid-19 and it will remain true long after.
Medevac operations are not the only use for business aircraft during a pandemic. Throughout this crisis we have seen private jets previously used for corporate missions being offered for cargo – in particular, transporting personal protective equipment, ventilators and medications. Efficiency is a must at times like this, as outbreaks spike at different rates around the world and needs are constantly shifting.
Statistically, 40% of air cargo is transported in the belly hold of passenger aircraft. With a significant portion of the world’s airline fleet grounded, a pinch point to move supplies occurred. Business aviation stepped up with owners and operators taking on some of the critical capacity needs.
A focal point of air transport, business or commercial, has been putting people in front of one another with great speed. Video conferencing is helping fulfill the role of in-person meetings in the short term, but the need hasn’t been replaced. In this regard, business aviation has been instrumental in the fight against Covid-19, as governments and agencies use private aircraft to fly scientists on fact-finding missions and reposition medical staff to areas with a shortage.
As for corporate owners, these jets have proven more useful than they may have ever imagined. Business aircraft are making it possible to move employees during a time when airline flight options are minimal, and allowing key individuals to be where they are needed to keep supply lines running smoothly.
Business aviation has long been a tool designed to fit around people’s needs, and it is also worth mentioning the select group of people who make these missions possible. It is thanks to the pilots, mechanics, ground crews, line technicians, and staff at the manufacturers, FBOs and MROs across the globe, that staffed, flew and maintained these aircraft so they might complete their missions. To them, we share our greatest thanks for their hard work in enabling our sector to support Covid-19 relief efforts, and for their continued dedication to our industry now, before, and in the future.
This article was originally published by Jetcraft on May 27, 2020.