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Toot Your Own Horn: Bizav Operators Tell Their Own Stories

The value of building a proactive internal campaign to support your flight operation.

Business aviation is often misrepresented in the mainstream media, cast as a villain for the sake of a soundbite. Are you prepared to share the value your flight department brings to the company and the community, whether to principals or shareholders?

Long-time business aviation professionals shared with Business Aviation Insider their business aviation “whys” and also offered suggestions on how to build a proactive internal campaign to support a flight operation.

Be Prepared With Objective Data

Keep an eye out for news coverage about business aviation that doesn’t present a balanced argument and be prepared to share the flight department’s message with executives and others on the team. Do your homework ahead of time so you understand the concerns your principals or even the public might express to you and have data ready to make a strong case for your flight operation.

Environmental concerns are a key challenge today, but the negative perception of business aviation still lingers in some circles in the wake of media criticism in 2008 of automakers flying company aircraft to Washington while seeking a publicly funded auto industry bailout.

Here’s where data comes into play: Although business aviation is portrayed as an environmental villain, it actually contributes less than one-half of 1% of man-made global emissions.

Although the news media often portrays business aviation as a toy for CEOs of major corporations, the reality is only about 3% of the approximately 15,000 business aircraft registered in the U.S. are flown by Fortune 500 companies. The remaining 97% are operated by a wide range of organizations, from government entities and universities to charitable organizations and large, medium and small businesses.

In your environmental discussions, reinforce that business aviation has adopted the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“We actually have a good story about the environment. Business aviation is on the forefront of mitigating carbon emissions, using more efficient routing, adopting SAF [sustainable aviation fuel] and more,” said Mark McIntyre, CAM, director of flight operations at Mente LLC. “Make sure your principals, public relations and environmental teams know what your flight department is doing to mitigate its environmental impact.”

“Business aviation provides productivity, efficiency and quality of life that is unmatched by other forms of transportation.”

David Salvador Vice President of Aftermarket Channel at Gogo Business Aviation

Data analytics allow for more streamlined maintenance, resulting in more efficient maintenance schedules and fewer ferry or maintenance flights, according to David Salvador, vice president of aftermarket channel at Gogo Business Aviation. Today, more connectivity systems in an aircraft can be updated over the air rather than being replaced outright, resulting in less equipment in a landfill and fewer flights to maintenance facilities for those updates.

Salvador also explained that efficient routing is a simple but potentially effective way to reduce carbon emissions. In-flight connectivity also contributes to sustainability efforts by allowing pilots to fly more direct flight routes in weather diversions.

“Today we’re taking advantage of more efficient routing. East Coast routing now allows us to fly at higher altitudes for a longer portion of the flight while decreasing the overall distance of the trip. That results in lower fuel burn,” said Eric Canup, chair of NBAA’s Domestic Operations Committee. “Business aviation has also led the way in adopting SAF where it’s available and when it becomes more prevalent, you’ll find many business aviation operators will be keen to buy SAF.”

Business aviation also utilizes aircraft design to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Airlines are operating aircraft that were designed in the ‘80s or ‘90s and are far less efficient than most of the business aircraft flown today.

Track SAF purchases, book-and-trade arrangements or carbon offset participation as well as data on new routes that save your company time and money while saving carbon emissions. Ask your OEM for data on aerodynamic and engine improvements that make your aircraft more efficient than older aircraft and add that to your campaign information.

As a counterpoint to executive toy arguments, explain how organizations of all sizes use business aircraft to transport middle managers and other team members to expand their companies and interact with their customers. Many companies also use their aircraft in charitable and humanitarian missions.

Although business aviation might be seen as a luxury for the wealthy, companies – small and large – rely on their business aircraft to provide privacy and security in their business transactions.

“Business aviation provides productivity, efficiency and quality of life that is unmatched by other forms of transportation,” said Salvador, who has seen the industry evolve in his 14 years in after-market equipment. “Years ago, people wanted to be offline on purpose on airplanes, then as smart phones and tablets came online, they wanted to be online. A connected business aircraft is unmatched in productivity potential.”

While the argument about traveling to five or seven cities for customer meetings or to open new store locations, then sleep in your own bed that night, might feel like an overused anecdote in the industry, it’s a reality for many companies that utilize business aviation but still unknown or inconceivable to the general public.

“Over the years we continue to get stories from customers about operating aircraft more efficiently while meeting the demands of business aircraft. Airlines just can’t accommodate that like business aviation can,” said Salvador.

Today’s airline challenges, including flight cancellations due to crewmember shortages and scheduling system failures, further demonstrate the value of business aviation, as does the safety that business aircraft provided to those traveling for business during the pandemic.

“There’s not a better, more reliable way to get your people around the world to see clients,” Salvador added. “Doing business continues to excel with personal contact and business aviation is much less disruptive when there’s a challenge. Just look at the productivity lost when stranded at an airport for hours or even days.”

Communicate Early and Often

With any membership changes among your management, marketing, PR or environment teams, reach out early to share the benefits your flight department provides to the company and explain your flight department’s environmental initiatives and productivity value. If your organization’s leadership has been in place for a while, reach out regularly to form a partnership that supports the flight department. Even if they are frequent users of the aircraft and might understand the value you provide, they might face the same perception challenges you do. Arm them with the right information to make a good case.

“We’re an easy target, but you have to be able to tell the story of productivity and increased efficiency. Business aviation leads to a better quality of life,” said Canup.

“Each flight department has different needs and different resources to create and tell its story.”

Mark McIntyre CAM, Director of Flight Operations at Mente LLC

Advocate, Advocate, Advocate

Have an “elevator speech” ready to go about the value of business aviation. The parent sitting next to you at your kid’s soccer game might be on the city council that oversees the local airport or might be part of a local environmental group.

Be ready to talk about the jobs and other economic advantages business aviation brings to your region. You might learn something about the migratory pattern of a rare bird while sharing how business aviation follows noise abatement policies around wildlife preserves.

“Help remove the mystery of business aviation and show value to the community, whether describing humanitarian and charitable activities or sharing the positive economic impact on the community.”

Eric Canup Chair of NBAA’s Domestic Operations Committee

“Help remove the mystery of business aviation and show value to the community, whether describing humanitarian and charitable activities or sharing the positive economic impact on the community,” said Canup. “It doesn’t necessarily offset the environmental impact but we have to look at the practicality of it. Business aviation provides an incredible number of jobs and vital services to small communities.”

“It’s time for the industry to meet the argument head-on. If we don’t explain the value of business aviation to our principals or the public, who will?” Canup added.

“Each flight department has different needs and different resources to create and tell its story,” McIntyre said. “You need to evolve over time as challenges and resources evolve. You can’t write this once and be done.”

Learn more about business aviation’s value to companies and communities at

Have These Tools Ready to Go

Put together a few resources for your media and environmental teams, as well as your company leadership, to reference if questioned about the value of business aviation. Consider adding these to your company’s toolkit:

  • An overview of business aviation data – demonstrated increased productivity, the industry’s very small contribution to global carbon emissions, use of business aircraft in humanitarian efforts.
  • A white paper with data specific to your company – gallons of SAF purchased, miles or fuel saved by using more efficient routes, sustainable aircraft design features.
  • A short “elevator speech” script on the benefits of business aviation.
  • A list of talking points to be referenced in shareholder meetings or elsewhere.
  • A list of references for more information, including NBAA’s website and No Plane, No Gain resources.

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