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Managing Business Aviation

As more corporations are accepting Business Aviation as a normal travel option- aviation professionals have responded by expanding their management skills and integrating their flight departments into the firm’s organizational structure- observes Jack Olcott.

Jack Olcott   |   1st August 2012
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Possibly the world’s most recognized advocate, if not expert on the value of Business Aviation,...
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Managing Business Aviation
As more corporations are accepting Business Aviation as a normal travel option- aviation professionals have responded by expanding their management skills and integrating their flight departments into the firm’s organizational structure- observes Jack Olcott.

About a decade ago- an associate and I queried a group of aviation professionals about their basic approach to managing the company’s business aircraft. One Aviation Director insisted that he spends a fair amount of his time actively avoiding involvement with corporate management. “We keep our airport activities to ourselves-” he proudly asserted. “Those folks downtown just don’t understand us- so we keep to ourselves and just do our jobs—flying aircraft safely and catering to the boss’s needs.”

Another participant in our discussion took the opposite approach. “I work overtime educating the managers at various levels within the company about the value of the company’s aircraft-” he outlined.

“Our aviation department is a business unit within the corporation- and as such we are expected to embrace the same business practices- such as budgeting- reporting and administering to personnel issues- as do other business units. I find that this approach- which applies to all the company’s managers- works well.”

Several months following the discussion- my associate and I learned that one of these Aviation Directors had relocated and the other continued to hold his position within his corporation. You can guess which person stayed with his employer and which one moved on. Independence might have been an important— possibly necessary—attribute for leading a flight department in earlier times- before companies fully appreciated the value of managing their travel needs holistically and a company aircraft was the boss’s special carriage. Today’s Aviation Directors- and those who aspire for a role in flight department management- are expected to be trained managers as well as competent aviators.

While colleges now offer programs in aviation management and numerous Executive MBA programs exist- professionals engaged in Business Aviation often have neither the time nor the funds to return to academe. To address the need for relevant education in management- the National Business Aviation Association offers a comprehensive set of courses within its Professional Development Program- better known as PDP. Courses address business and management subjects that an aspiring Aviation Director is expected to understand as Business Aviation blends into a corporation’s infrastructure.

Board Members should examine hiring policy for their company’s flight departments- seeking- wherever possible- those personnel with the best balance of aviation and management skills.

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