May 21, 2020

Reaching out to mentors and staying optimistic can help aviation professionals get through the COVID-19 crisis. It is also helpful to put today’s career challenges in perspective.

“When faced with a crisis, I always see it as a disaster or an opportunity,” said Taunya Renson-Martin, founder and managing partner of Mach Media, during NBAA’s May 20 News Hour. “We should look at what we are learning from this problem and how we can help others.”

Presenters were bullish about the future of business aviation and professionals’ ability to weather the pandemic. “Don’t panic,” said Mike McCracken, president of Hawkeye Aircraft Acquisitions. “Step back and assess the situation and figure out what you can do about it. Out of change and uncertainty comes the freedom of possibilities.”

In the webinar, “How to Recover Professionally from a Crisis,” McCracken urged aviation professionals – especially younger ones who may not have been in the industry for long – to look for outside solutions. “Your goal should be: How can I make myself more desirable so that others want me on their team?”

“Use your resources, brainstorm with your team and try and engage everyone,” said Cindy Tweedie, a Gulfstream service and logistics manager for the U.S. Air Force . “It’s important to get everyone to support your plan moving forward.” All webinar presenters agreed on the importance of transparency and constant communication with colleagues, mentors and others in the industry.

Tweedie also shared the example of a friend who was laid off from his job, but is using his time to add to his pilot certifications. “Because of the need for secure and safe travel, we hope to see an uptick in the purchase of business aircraft,” she said.

Moderating the webinar, NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown noted the association uses “scenario planning” to deal with operational challenges. “We take a set of assumptions and then build a set of strategies around that,” said Brown. Having a base strategy and then two more – one more optimistic, one less – provides three visions of the future that can be used accordingly as things play out.

JW VanLandingham, director of aftermarket sales in Europe for Textron Aviation, encouraged those just getting started in the aviation industry to stick with it. “There are always a lot of ups and downs in aviation, but aviation is such a rich career,” he said. “It’s not the worst time to get into the industry, even though it may seem like it. There are plenty of opportunities that are only around the corner.”

Renson-Martin agreed, because of the many entrepreneurs, flourishing innovation and creativity in aviation, this is an exciting time for young people to enter the field.

“It’s a chance to determine what the future of air travel will be,” she said. “So if you’re looking to be able to make a difference in an industry, there is no better choice than business aviation – because this is where’s it’s happening.”