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Thierry Boutsen’s Formula 1 race driving career was pretty spectacular- but in comparison- the rise of his small Monaco-based business aircraft sales company has been meteoric. World Aircraft Sales Magazine caught up with Boutsen - a quietly spoken- modest man- with a total commitment to business aviation - at EBACE.

Mike Vines   |   1st July 2008
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Boutsen Aviation

The secret to success is in the detail.

Thierry Boutsen’s Formula 1 race driving career was pretty spectacular- but in comparison- the rise of his small Monaco-based business aircraft sales company has been meteoric. World Aircraft Sales Magazine caught up with Boutsen - a quietly spoken- modest man- with a total commitment to business aviation - at EBACE.

The scale and quality of his order book is frankly amazing- with his first customer Airbus ACJ delivered immediately after EBACE concluded. The green aircraft was flown from Hamburg to Jet Aviation’s completion center at Basel- where it will spend the next seven months having its super-luxury interior fitted for an undisclosed customer. A second ACJ is due to be delivered green in September- while Boutsen’s first A318 Elite is set for delivery in June 2009. Not bad for a company that employs around six people- including his wife Daniela.

The company was founded in 1996 and the secret of its success- says Boutsen- is attention to detail. “Buying and selling corporate aircraft is our business. It is a very detailed business and requires a very good understanding of the market conditions- aircraft availability- associated costs- maintenance expectations and all the documentation required to pass title from one entity to another.”

The secret of the company’s success- Boutsen reveals- is offering a completely personalized and tailor-made solution package. “Financing is a very big part of our business and all transactions are different. We save our customers time and money and that is the reason that we have been so successful. In a nutshell – it’s the attention to detail that scores highest with our customers.”

For the ACJ acquisitions his company not only arranged all the necessary services and finance etc.- but gained good slot positions on Airbus’s production line. “Four to five years is the official time quoted from order-” explained Boutsen- “but we can usually work out something much better because of our good relationship with both Airbus and Jet Aviation.” The complex interior of the first ACJ has been designed and refined over the last two years and Boutsen adds that he has also been very closely involved in the process.

His company has already sold 165 aircraft worldwide in its relatively short history - the most startling being a Beech A100 King Air to the “Eskimos” as he puts it. He was of course referring to the Inuit- and explained that this Arctic company needed a reliable twin turboprop as back-up to its tiny start-up regional airline.

“Business comes from all over the world-” Boutsen observed. “We’ve sold into the US- South Africa- Japan and Brazil to name a few countries. Our business is split roughly 50/50 between sales and acquisitions- and the aircraft sales business is split roughly between 40% France- 20% Germany and the rest of the world accounts for the remainder.”

Boutsen Aviation is also Piaggio Aero’s sales distributor for the Avanti twin turboprop in Monaco- Belgium and France. “So far we have sold eight used and new Avantis and have eight more on order. We’re due to get three or four this year with the remainder in 2009.”

Because of his experience in what the customer wants- Boutsen says that he is ‘involved in Piaggio’s projects’. He couldn’t comment further- but says that when Piaggio does go ahead with its next aircraft design it will be different and have that Ferrari flair and ramp appeal. When asked whether it would be another twin turboprop or a twin turbofan he was non-committal- but said that if the Avanti II cabin was lengthened- everything else including engines and wing would have to be scaled up and the current aircraft is just about perfect anyway. He intimated- as indeed have Piaggio board members- that their dilemma in launching a new distinctive niche design is that it would take several years to deliver- and a lot of business aircraft gaps are rapidly filling with new designs from other OEMs.

Background Info
Born in Brussels in 1957- Thierry Boutsen is a trained engineer and owes his fame mainly to 10 years racing in Formula 1. He was three times Grand Prix winner with the Willams Formula 1 Team in 1989 and 1990- with 164 starts- 132 World Championship points- and 15 podium appearances. Boutsen gained experience and success in endurance racing- winning the famous Daytona 24 hours in 1985- the Group C Endurance World Championship for his team in 1986- and was the 1998 USRRC GT1-Champion.

Boutsen admits quietly that he speaks five languages- including Dutch- English- French- German and Italian and has a reason for each; the Dutch and French are due to his Belgian roots- Italian was acquired during his driving time with the Beneton racing team- English because of his racing days with Williams- and German because of his time with BMW engineering - “and also because my wife is German-” he joked.

Currently type rated on Citation Is and IIs- Boutsen uses these aircraft to attend business meetings and still be home in time for dinner. He’s logged around 2-400 hours so far- which includes quite a bit of time on a Learjet 35A- but says that he uses any aircraft in his inventory.

In concluding- World Aircraft Sales Magazine asked Boutsen whether he misses the motor racing scene? “No! I can honestly say that I don’t-” he replied. “It got to the stage where I found myself trapped in the game. It was the same places and the same subjects and I was risking my life unnecessarily.”

However- asked whether he was still getting a kick out of his aviation business- he enthused- “I’m enjoying it as much as anything I’ve done in my life in the past. Monaco is a great place to live and my wife and I think it’s a great place to bring up the children.” With a twinkle in his eye- Boutsen adds- “I’ll never retire- but I might just slow down a little when I’m older!”

More information from www.boutsen.com

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