- 28 years as a business aviation management consultant
- The VanAllen Group helps its clients (major corporations and individuals) understand their unique private air travel needs, identifies the most suitable options, and supports the purchase and implementation of the resources and services
- Specialties: Air Travel Needs Analysis, Aircraft / Service Acquisition, Aircraft Completion Management, Pre-Purchase Inspection oversight, Executive Search, Policy and Procedure Development, Best Practices Audit, Emergency Response Plan Development
- Clients include: Major corporations (85%), very high net worth individuals (14%) and a few royal families (1%)
- 95% of our work is for North American clients
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
- The benefits of business aviation are not always understood.
When you are growing an enterprise the most critical issue you face is revenue. The issue here is knowing how to grow "the top line" as dramatically and as quickly as practical. Time is working against you in that quest. You don't have enough of it. And you cannot be in two places at once.
You save at least three hours, door-to-door, for every place you go, in comparison to traveling on the airlines. And you can go to more places in a day and work en route, in a secure environment.
People who criticize the cost difference between business aviation and the airlines don't understand the cost of time or the power of accelerating and increasing revenue. You cannot save your way into prosperity, but you can sell your way there. And business aviation is the "magic carpet" for getting in front of the customer.
- Business aviation remains an easy target for corporate gadflies and critics who politicize business aviation.
The politicization of business aviation makes it sound like something for the rich and famous or "fat cats." However, only a very small percentage of business aviation's customers fall into that category.
The vast majority of customers use it, not for themselves, but for the benefit of their organizations and are extraordinarily deliberate about it. Far more organizations quietly use their aircraft for community service such as moving child cancer patients for their treatment. They don't live the high life on the stakeholders' nickel.
Consider this: One of your major investments that enables you to go to and from work and run family errands is your personal vehicle. An aircraft is an enterprise's family vehicle and it eats up a much smaller part of the annual budget than your car does.
- The most common source of advice about business aviation is friends and colleagues. The next most common is a salesperson. That is not good enough.
If you see three identical aircraft on an airport ramp, you will find that each of those users benefits from their aircraft use in different ways.
- Your products and services are unique.
- Your market areas and customers are unique.
- And your corporate structure and culture are unique.
Asking an acquaintance about an aircraft or service is a good start. But your acquaintance's needs and expectations are not your own. Turning to a salesperson is a great way to gain specific knowledge of what he or she has to sell.
But, no one will take care of you as well as you will. . . and the person you hire to be your advocate and your source of expert knowledge.
- Senior management teams waste valuable time and energy addressing and readdressing questions about business aviation.
Senior management teams often don’t know how to address questions about business aviation or address challenges to their use of it.
Quite often the executives and the source of the challenge are considering the direct costs of the airlines as they compare them to the direct costs of business aircraft ideas. Of course, the use of business aircraft in that environment is a multiple of the airline costs. What is often not understood, or easily quantified, are the time cost and the opportunity cost associated with choosing to use the airlines versus using business aviation:
Business aviation routinely saves at least three hours per leg of travel time door to door. If you’ve got an executive whose compensation is $1 million per year, then an hour of his or her time is typically $500 an hour. That’s $1,500 added to the airline ticket. Multiply that by two or three passengers at their rate of compensation and you'll discover you can save money on time and travel by making two or three stops in a day in a private aircraft instead of just one using a commercial airline. This leverages the senior management’s time, but it’s hard for them to routinely quantify that.
Most people get wrapped around trying to justify that aircraft use on the basis of savings of dollars rather than revenue dollars they can create with the time they save.
- Most corporations and organizations wait too long before starting to use business aviation services.
Most clients make the decision when they are well beyond the point that they really need it. The majority of potential users of business aviation have a preconception it is too expensive. The result is that organizations are so far past the tipping point when they finally start to inquire about it that the answer is obvious.
- There are plenty of "experts" in business aviation, but not enough expertise.
Decision makers too often get advice from sellers and not from advocates. Whether it is a pilot selling his own future career or a salesman for an aircraft, fractional or charter, they all have something to sell. To them, you can look like a source of revenue and not a customer with a problem.
Even though integrity is high in the business aviation industry, that does not guarantee you are talking to the right people. The question becomes: How do you find an advocate who is going to be truly focused on your well-being and on your outcome?
- The FAA does not assure you of either safety or good service.
When someone gets a pilot's license, a charter certificate or a fractional aircraft operating certificate, they have met a minimum standard on that given day. The FAA does not have enough days in the week – or enough people in its offices – to closely monitor the maintenance of even minimum standards.
That minimum standard is focused on "preventing failure," rather than assuring the best practices outcomes expected by most customers. The fact that someone is FAA qualified or has a Wyvern or AR/GUS Certificate is a start. But you need to do more than trust. You must verify.
- High-budget advertising does not equate to an effective fit for your needs or best practices performance.
There is a good bit of money to be made in selling aviation services.
For instance, there is no certification required for air charter brokers or used aircraft sales. A good web designer, a roll of quarters and an aggressive telemarketer makes it hard for you to tell the real people from the opportunists.
You are about to put your most precious people in the back of a metal tube going 500 miles per hour, seven miles above the ground. The fastest talker or the lowest bidder may not be your best choice.
- Why don't companies consider leveraging business aviation sooner?
- They are familiar with what has worked for them in the past – using the airlines, which was totally appropriate. . . yesterday.
- They finally reach the tipping point where time becomes so constrained that they know there just must be a better way to travel.
- It is an unfamiliar choice. They do not know to whom to turn or who to trust.
- Airplanes look like a large expense compared to much less costly alternatives: The airlines or technology.
Average performers make safe choices.
The decision to consider business aviation has nothing to do with flying. It is all about getting things done. You can be conservative and continue to live with the consequences of losing time to commercial travel and getting less done each week, or you can do what 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies do and use business aviation.
Technology makes a great contribution to the conduct of business, but it does not make business happen. Face-to-face meetings make business happen.
That is why nearly every significant technology and communications company uses business aviation.
- Some customers invest aggressively in hardware and technology, but under-invest in the people it takes to do the job.
Flying is extraordinarily safe, but you should still seek a standard of safety that is at least as good as that of the major airlines.
Seventy percent of accidents are human-sourced. The mitigation of the risk of human error is:
- Two highly-qualified and experienced pilots who are trained twice each year in full motion simulators.
- Applying best practices policies, standards and practices.
Anything less raises your risks.
If you choose to own a mid-sized aircraft or larger, include a technician in your staff. This is the only person who can more than pay for him or herself in reduced costs, reduced aircraft down time and higher retained asset value.
If you choose to own a super-midsized aircraft or larger, include a cabin safety attendant in the crew. It is a matter of safety and care for the aircraft. Service is a nice byproduct and your privacy can still be maintained. Otherwise, frequent passengers should participate in annual rigorous cabin safety and systems training.