Oct. 16, 2018

Aviation managers often face questions about the importance of their flight department and its impact to their company’s bottom line. An Oct. 16 education session, sponsored by NBAA’s Business Aviation Insider magazine, “Communicating the Value of a Business Aircraft,” offered tips and tools to assist them in explaining how business aircraft contribute to their employer’s success, competitiveness and growth.

NBAA Senior Vice President, Communications Dan Hubbard noted examples over the past 10 years in which the nature of business aviation has been questioned, sometimes publicly and often in a negative manner, most notably in the early days of the 2008-2009 recession.

“Think back to the infamous incident with three auto executives flying their jets to DC to ask for a taxpayer bailout,” he said. “Our industry suddenly found itself with a real perception problem. On Capitol Hill, there were sound bites coming every day, from members of both parties, about business aviation as excessive. On the late-night comedy shows, there were lots of jokes about the use of business aviation.”

That led to the February 2009 creation of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and NBAA. The initiative utilizes such targeted efforts as focused advertising. “You won’t see our ads during the Super Bowl,” Hubbard said. “They run during the public affairs shows and on DC cable channels we know policymakers and opinion leaders are watching.”

Another important part of No Plane No Gain is commissioning reports, studies and surveys highlighting the many noteworthy contributions from business aviation. Most recently, a survey conducted by The Harris Poll reaffirmed that business aviation offers safe, efficient transportation to companies of all sizes, particularly those located in smaller communities with little to no commercial airline service.

“On average, the main reason for business aircraft use is the scheduling flexibility,” said Harris Insights and Analytics Senior Consultant David Krane. “Further, business aviation missions often involve multiple destinations, and employees tell us they’re being very effective and productive while onboard.”

The survey also showed most users of business aviation are small companies employing 500 or fewer workers, and that passengers spend an average of 63 percent of their time on board business aircraft engaged in work, compared to just 42 percent when traveling commercially.

“This is the real face of business aviation,” Hubbard added. “These are the airplanes they use, the airports they fly into, the passengers onboard and the destinations they hit on a given trip. It demonstrates how it makes not just companies more productive, but how these activities also benefit communities across the country.”

Lee Blake, chief pilot and corporate shuttle manager for Cummins, offered real-world insights from the perspective of a busy and diverse business aviation flight operation. The Columbus, IN-based manufacturing company flies three Gulfstream G280 business jets for executives and staff, as well as a dedicated Embraer ERJ135 employee shuttle.

“For the majority of executives flying, we are a time machine,” Blake said. “Consistent communication allows us to hear about {what] value they believe we add to the company and address any concerns they may have.”

Review the Harris survey.

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