Oct. 12, 2017

Business aviation flight departments may utilize the results of a recent study – demonstrating that use of a business aircraft is the sign of a well-managed enterprise among the S&P 500 list of America’s most highly valued and well-respected companies – to showcase the importance of their own operations to colleagues and other audiences, panelists said at an education session at NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).

Released on Sept. 25, the study “Business Aviation and Top Performing Companies, 2017” is the sixth completed by NEXA Advisors, LLC on behalf of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. NEXA founder and managing partner Michael Dyment explained the methodology behind these studies with the acronym “UBV,” which stands for utilization, benefits and value.

“Proper utilization of the aircraft drives its benefits to the company, which in turn drives the enterprise value it delivers,” he said. “When business aviation can impact shareholder value positively, it’s why we have an industry. There are many, many anecdotes I could tell you about how certain companies use business aircraft to beat the pants off their competitors, but the UBV framework provides the ability to understand how your aircraft needs to be utilized to drive value.”

That can be a difficult metric for flight department personnel to grasp at first. Presenter Dan Hubbard, senior vice president for communications at NBAA, related a phone call he received several years ago from a frantic flight department manager who had received a pop-up trip request from his company’s recently installed executive team.

“Because it was a last-minute trip, they wound up having to sit for 90 minutes awaiting IFR clearance before departure,” he continued, “and one of the executives loudly questioned, ‘why do we have this airplane plane in the first place if we’re just sitting here?’ The CEO told our guy he wanted an answer to that question the next day, and he needed any resources that NBAA could provide to help him.

“We have a lot of resources and gladly provided them to help him make his case, but it turns out he’d never seen any of those executives before that day,” Hubbard continued. “That’s more than a resources problem; that’s a fundamental problem with the framework for strategic engagement with your company.”

Dyment offered five suggestions for highlighting the value of a flight department:

  1. Flight department personnel should engage with passengers, be it C-suite executives, the board of directors, or co-workers who are most often on business aircraft flights. Each provides important opportunities to showcase the value of a company flight department.
  2. Employ a one-page questionnaire for passengers, to capture the value of each flight as it happens. “There are ways to gather basic information,” Dyment said. “Are they flying to meet with existing customers, or for new business? Or are you transporting employees to another location?”
  3. Demonstrate the flight department’s many roles within the company.
  4. Showcase the flight department’s value to the community by keeping the company’s communications department aware of humanitarian and other missions flown by company aircraft.
  5. Utilize “the toolbox itself,” Dyment said. The No Plane No Gain website provides a multitude of valuable tools and resources to support strategic engagement.

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