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Business Aviation & The Boardroom - Aircraft Charter 101 (Part 2)

We previously studied the many benefits offered by aircraft charter in return for minimum investment from the Board. This month Dave Higdon considers the potential of the private cabin and how to select the right one for the mission.

Dave Higdon   |   1st July 2011
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Aircraft Charter 101 (Part 2):
The Space-Time Continuum
We previously studied the many benefits offered by aircraft charter in return for minimum investment from the Board. This month Dave Higdon considers the potential of the private cabin and how to select the right one for the mission.

Properly paired expectations and hardware help business travelers arrive relaxed- refreshed and ready for business. Consequently- it is essential to understand that aircraft vary- and that those variations may help or hinder group work and rest time en route. You can avoid a cabin configuration conundrum by considering a few key points.

The arrangement of cabin seats influences the convenience of a group meeting. Therefore- some regularly- used terms are worth remembering when sourcing the correct aircraft to charter:

Club Seating: Four seats- arranged to face each other – often around a common table or flanking a pair of tables – which means two of those seats face backward.

Double Club: Two of the above- one after the other.

Individual Seating: No club arrangement. Usually seats can swivel to face the aisle.

Sofa/Divan: Side-facing sofa or divan-style seat against one side of the cabin. These may be limited in use for take-off and landing.

Galley/Refreshment Center: May or may not have hot-food and hot-beverage capabilities in larger aircraft. These could be nothing more than a few insulated drawers and an ice chest in smaller aircraft - so if catering is important for your travel plans- check before booking.

In addition it could be worth checking whether the prospective aircraft offers a lavatory for convenience en route.

A mission that sends only two or three persons out for the average trip – 500 to 750 miles – generally produces 90 minutes to two hours of cabin-time. Most modern aircraft capable of handling the range and capacity required will have at least one club-seating area conducive to the group meeting.

Smaller light jets won’t lend themselves to standing or moving around – other than moving to (or from) the lavatory or galley. So getting away from the group could be a challenge in most Light Jets (like Cessna’s Mustang or CJ1+- Hawker 200 or Learjet 40).

Most Medium- and virtually all Large-Cabin Jets offer space for four to work together- as well as adjacent seating close enough for a fifth- sixth- even a seventh or eighth passenger to participate in the discussions if desired. Larger aircraft (for example Bombardier’s Challenger or Global models- the Hawker 750 or 800XP- or Cessna’s Citation Sovereign among others) also have the height to allow comfortable movement in the cabin.

Essentially- the ability to meet privately and securely and also to rest appropriately lasts only as long as the flight itself. It should go without saying that you should not try to plan a three-hour meeting into a flight of only two hours or less. There’s no rule against continuing to meet on the airplane after it lands- but it will all reflect on your bill.

In a club seating arrangement with adjacent seats supporting four to six- you can allow the meeting to start the instant your fellow passengers sit – as long as everyone can accommodate restrictions in place for take-off and landing: seatbelts fastened- seatbacks upright- and any storable tables tucked away. (Passengers may also need to secure today’s common electronic devices- but usually only through the initial climb and during the approach.)

Planned right- the correct airplane- and a realistic en route plan of action from the company for the trip will offer excellent work time or rest time - and there will be no screaming children or pushy fellow passengers to disturb you or your privacy.

Cabin-size means the most on longer trips. When the group size warrants- picking something with lots of headroom is easy; when it does not- time spent aloft becomes a factor.

Employees will need to stretch- move around- sit in a different spot and converse with others. Few of us want to sit for two- three- four or more hours in any aircraft cabin – even one offering first class comfort- so consider ways to maximize comfort on longer-legs. In the end- picking a bigger cabin for work may offer benefits beyond the simple time-equation benefits: time to work- produce and still arrive fresh- relaxed and prepared.

The bottom line rests solely upon the business you’ll need to conduct on board the charter- the number of passengers needing to fly and the length of the trip. If you factor these elements correctly- you should have a workforce arriving at their destination both refreshed and prepared to represent your company to the standards expected of them.

Do you have any questions or opinions on the above topic? Get it answered/published in World Aircraft Sales Magazine. Email feedback to Jack@avbuyer.com


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