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Now Is The Time:
Three ways to prepare for a recovery.

The recent NBAA Convention did not set any attendance records. However- from our perspective (and that of many other exhibitors) it was a good show with renewed interest in aircraft. The US actually recorded a modest economic growth in the third quarter. While we have not turned the corner - jobs are still hurting - now is the time to start thinking of the recovery.

As anyone who has gone through a sports injury can tell you- once you start feeling better- you can't just return to full activity - there is a period of rehabilitation. Muscles and joints have been weakened and flexibility may be limited. Attempting to return to regular activity without any adjustment can lead to further injury.

I think aviation is close to the ‘rehab’ phase- in which case- following are three things that will help you move forward:

Now would be a good time to update your aviation strategic plan to account for a recovery. I can't stress enough that you need to have a strategic plan for your aviation function. It needs to be kept updated.

Now is a good time to reassess your aviation capabilities and to look forward. Missions change- new people may have joined your company- or departments may have been combined. How does your aviation function fit in with the ‘leaner’ company? How well are you prepared to meet the changes in your company's air transportation needs?

Ask yourself: Will flying pick up? If so- how much- and when? Has the mission changed? Is now the time to update- upgrade or replace aircraft?

Updating your aviation plan also needs to take into account any new regulations and rules coming in the future. This is especially important for international operations as issues such as CO2 offsets- updated avionic requirements- and increased regulations for commercial operators are all a part of international flying. Address this in your aviation department's strategic plan.

Review your current capabilities- staffing- and finances: Advance preparation starts with knowing where you are. Many aviation operations have reduced staffing. If flying picks up next year- will you be ready to support that demand?

There are a large number of well qualified aviation professionals looking for work right now. The best usually get (re)hired first. Will there be budgeted money for any increased flying? Be proactive in preparing for activity to pick up.

If you are a not-for-hire operation- reorganizations within your company present opportunities for new people or departments to start using the aircraft. Market within your own company as you can to continue to inform and educate folks as to the business tool that is the aircraft.

For hire operators will need to look for new clients and new growth industries within their region of operation. Are there emerging companies that will grow and require your services? You have probably lost some clients- but there will be new clients emerging.

In preparing for the eventual recovery- do not forget the lessons learned from this current situation. Whether it is local - convincing the boss to use the airplane again; regional - airport and airspace access; or global - fuel costs- taxes- fees- we will all be facing new challenges and new opportunities.

Conklin & de Decker is working with several companies and individuals who are acting now for their future growth. These clients weren't just lucky- they were smart and prepared as best they could for the changes they could anticipate.

Have a plan that is updated; a budget that is realistic; and keep an eye on the horizon for long-term opportunities.

David Wyndham is an owner of Conklin & de Decker. The mission of Conklin & de Decker is to furnish the general aviation industry with objective and impartial information in the form of professionally developed and supported products and services- enabling its clients to make more informed decisions when dealing with the purchase and operation of aircraft. With over 1-800 clients in 90 countries around the world- Conklin & de Decker combines aviation experience with proven business practices.

More information from www.conklindd.com; Tel: +1 508 255 5975 

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