NAFA member, Tom Mitchell, Executive Vice President of Essex Aviation Group, Inc. highlights what to consider when selecting your aircraft management company.
When acquiring your first aircraft, one of your first decisions will be how the aircraft will be managed and operated. Some owners opt to run their own flight department, but many seek out a third-party aviation management company. These companies have decades of experience managing aircraft of all types and sizes and their purpose is to make your ownership as seamless as possible.
When considering the various management company options available, you can be certain that they are all quite different as to what they can offer. Depending upon your specific needs and requirements, you will find many of the options may not be the best fit for your specific needs and requirements.
Types of Aviation Management Companies
In the private aircraft management industry, there are three (3) primary types of aircraft management companies:
Within each category are differences in the scope of resources offered, and several factors should be considered and evaluated to determine which type of organization is best for your needs. Always assess each management company’s safety culture, research their incident and accident history and learn about and understand their operational experience and reputation.
Aircraft Management Services
Although every aircraft management company offers different management services, there are certain basic services you should expect to receive such as crew recruitment, accounting, flight coordination, and a well-organized charter department. We recommend that clients who are evaluating a management company consider the following:
Things to look for: Make sure you understand the aircraft management company’s key operations, maintenance, crew management and administrative functions. All of these factors will directly impact your relationship with the company and your use of the aircraft.
Also, keep in mind the geographic location where you intend to base your aircraft. Some aircraft management companies may base all the aircraft they manage at one central location requiring that your aircraft be positioned to your desired departure airport for your trips or for maintenance. Other management companies are able to support your aircraft based at any airport you choose that supports your aircraft’s operational requirements.
Your Requirements for an Aircraft Management Company
A good first step is to outline and prioritize your goals as a private aircraft owner, in order to define what would make an ideal relationship. Be sure to allow sufficient time to review and receive proposals from a range of aircraft management companies and compare their differences. If you begin the selection process with an honest self-assessment, the relationship you build with your aviation management company will be that much better.
Things to look for: Chartering your aircraft to third parties can be a way to generate revenue when you aren’t using your aircraft. If you plan to charter, there are many things you’ll require from your aircraft management company. First and foremost, make sure your management company can operate your aircraft under their own Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 135 charter certificate.
Allowing your aircraft to be utilized for third-party charter can generate revenue to reduce the owner’s overall operating costs and can also make your aircraft attractive to outside aviation management companies. You should, however, not get false hopes about covering your overall operating costs. “There’s almost never a break-even point,” said Kyle Slover, COO of Volo Aviation “The better way to think of it is, ‘what does it do to my (the owner’s) occupied hourly rate?’ Discuss with your management provider what the financial metrics are that you are trying to reach.”
If internal or third-party Part 135 charter is one of your goals it is prudent to engage the assistance of an independent and knowledgeable industry consultant or advisor to facilitate the ownership structure.
Private aircraft management companies of varying sizes will provide certain advantages and limitations when it comes to chartering. Regardless of who you choose, you’ll want to be sure they’re equipped to handle all aspects of chartering and aviation management.
- Supporting varying flight destinations and times of travel
- Managing all ground services, details and security
- Negotiating discounts on your behalf
As you make your final selection, be sure to choose a private aircraft management company that can meet not only your current but also your future needs. Whichever company you choose, you can and should expect it to partner with you to meet your travel needs, your budget and any charter revenue requirements.