Building Your Aircraft Acquisition Team: Flight Department Manager

When buying or selling a private aircraft, it is important to have the right people at your side to lead you through an extremely complex process. René Armas Maes concludes his overview of the key team players with a focus on the Flight Department Manager.

René Armas Maes  |  06th May 2024
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    René Armas Maes
    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international...

    Include your flight department manager in aircraft acquisition talks


    It can be easy for discussion of aircraft acquisition teams to center around the broker, legal professionals, finance specialists, etc., but overlook the essential input and preparation work your Chief Pilot and/or Flight Department Manager can provide.

    But it would be a mistake to keep them out of the loop since it is their job to ensure a smooth incorporation of the aircraft into the Flight Department and that both the aircraft and the Flight Department are ready and able to perform the missions the incoming jet has been bought to achieve.

    A Flight Department Manager establishes the procedures for maintaining high standards of operational safety, productivity, reliability and regulatory compliance for the aircraft. They’re also responsible for the plans, policies and procedures governing your Flight Department’s operations.

    They will have their fingers on the pulse of several different areas of operation, understanding the aircraft acquisition from some unique perspectives.

    Flight Department Manager: A Wider Perspective of What’s Needed

    If you are establishing an in-house Flight Department to manage the newly acquired aircraft, it would be a good idea to install the Flight Department Manager before moving ahead with the acquisition.

    They will manage the process of advertising for, interviewing, evaluating and selecting pilots, mechanics and flight attendant applicants as necessary, based on the projected usage of the aircraft.

    For example, the Flight Department Manager will advise on how many pilots should be hired, based on the type of aircraft needed, the number of hours you anticipate flying annually, and where.

    They may also recommend appointing an in-house maintenance manager, depending on the MRO support currently available for the aircraft at the home airfield(s) under consideration.

    Likewise, they’ll also estabish the best place to base the aircraft – accounting for support services, hangarage, fuel prices and more.

    If you already have a Flight Department, the Flight Department Manager will assess if pilot and maintenance training is needed to enable the existing team to upgrade their skillsets and manage/operate the aircraft as required. This will undoubtedly be a requirement if you are moving into a different aircraft make/model.

    And a preliminary discussion with the Flight Department Manager will arm you with information about potential aircraft makes/models that would be a good fit for your evolving mission requirements before you even speak to your broker and refine the search.

    An existing Flight Department is likely to have a stock of spare parts and equipment that supports the existing aircraft. The Flight Department Manager will be integral in identifying new equipment that a new aircraft would require and sourcing a suitable pool of spare parts as necessary.

    Moreover, they’ll oversee the sale of the existing equipment and parts that are no longer required. And from ensuring the Flight Department is thoroughly equipped for the new acquisition, the Flight Department Manager will create a Minimum Equipment List (MEL) and submit it to the relevant authority.

    Of course, the preceding areas are just the tip of the iceberg of what a Flight Department Manager will do to ensure a smooth integration of a new aircraft into the organization. But they highlight why the Flight Department Manager should be a part of the aircraft acquisition/sales team from the very beginning, sharing their valuable perspectives.

    Required Experience and Personality

    If you need to appoint a Flight Department Manager, then a strong candidate will have at least five years’ experience of managing within a flight operation, be a pilot with a current instrument rating, FAA Airline

    Transport Pilot Certificate and meet FAA Director of Operations FAR requirements (or equivalent). Moreover, they should be able to demonstrate they are adept problem solvers.

    You will be entrusting a multi-million-dollar asset and key personnel within your corporation into the hands of your Flight Department. It is vital that the Flight Department Manager adheres to the highest ethics and integrity in the way they manage the operation. What is their attitude to implementing and enforcing safety policies, for example?

    How do they plan to identify, hire and build the strongest team, with diverse skillsets and perspectives to achieve a common goal? And how do they intend to motivate and incentivize the team to achieve excellence with the handling, operation and management of your new acquisition?

    The culture within your Flight Department should flow from the top down. The Flight Department Manager should be a proven leader, an excellent communicator (as comfortable communicating with pilots as with leading executives within your organization) and an exceptional strategist.

    Those same skills and personality traits will provide you with assurance that they are an excellent asset to your aircraft acquisition team, or when the time comes to replace an existing aircraft your sales team, too.

    HAVE YOU READ - Building Your Aircraft Acquisition Team? Read HERE

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    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes

    Editor, Buyer Strategy & Finance

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international aviation consultant and experienced C-Level professional. He has built a successful track record for developing and delivering Business Aviation strategies for Fortune 500 companies, Venture Capital firms, and HNWIs.

    René is a regular columnist for Bloomberg (financial), America Economia (business) and a speaker at aviation conferences worldwide.


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