Doing Business.

Doing Business.

For a nation of its size, Australia has a proud aviation history. From the solo exploits of Bert Hinkler and the trans-Pacific feats of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith nearly a century ago, this nation has developed a reputation of both safety and innovation. That tyranny of distance that drove the pioneering aviators is still with us, both within our borders and in spanning the world’s oceans. Consequently, aircraft ownership today has much to offer. As they say, “A mile of road can take you a mile, but a mile of runway can take you anywhere.”
An Exercise in Efficiency.
From the importance of face-to-face communications in maintaining critical business relationships, to the convenience offered by a personal aircraft, there are several potential advantages.
Time is a highly valued commodity. Time spent travelling to a destination for either business or pleasure can erode deeply into the very purpose of the journey. This effect can be magnified when the available transport options are run to rigid airline schedules and networks, which do not necessarily meet the needs of the individual.
A private aircraft can significantly reduce the impact of downtime through a variety of means. Firstly, it can allow the user to move seamlessly from one location to another without having to ‘dog leg’ back through a primary airport hub. Even those journeys to a single destination can involve multiple flights, while a private aircraft can travel point-to-point. In business, that can translate into fewer days away from home with reduced accommodation costs, and for leisure, less time in the terminal and more on the beach.
In an active sense, the modern world of private air travel can effectively offer an additional workspace, complete with privacy, while retaining online connectivity. Not to mention that the cabins of modern business jets and turbo-prop aircraft boast all manner of creature comforts.
Tailored to Suit.
Just as an aircraft can tailor a timetable to personal requirements, the aircraft itself can be tailored to the needs of the owner. From intercontinental private jets, to the smallest of helicopters, virtually every task can be catered for. Defining that task accurately is the first step towards fruitful ownership.
Considering the intended ports of call and the distance between them can be a starting point in selecting the correct aircraft. The aircraft must not only have the range to reach the various destinations comfortably, but to do so without compromising the intended load of people and luggage.
Furthermore, runway length and surface are a consideration, as not all aircraft are suited to short or unprepared outback airstrips. That being said, a number of aircraft are designed for this very flight profile and operate safely and successfully with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This ability of an aeroplane to operate from smaller airfields may result in a trade-off for speed I the cruise phase of flight, while inter-capital operations may have no such requirements.
The seating configuration within the cabin can also be widely varied with a range of luxurious appointments available. Face-to-face ‘club seating’, fold-out polished tables, air-conditioning, bathrooms and galleys are just a few of the choices that can be considered when selecting an aircraft. Many of the cabins offer a comfortable means of personal travel or a corporate workspace with universal outlets and internet connectivity. Additionally, many are equipped with an onboard media server that can connect to an onboard device to access moving maps or streaming audio or video.
In turn, there may be a requirement for the aircraft to have an onboard Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) as a source of electrical power and air-conditioning at remote ports that lack the necessary ground support facilities. Some types are fitted with an auxiliary battery system, dedicated to the aircraft’s requirements before flight and through the process of starting the engines. In so many ways, it is important to define the aircraft’s typical ‘mission’ at the outset.
How the aircraft is to be crewed is another pre-purchase consideration. Certain models only require a single pilot, while others call for a crew of two. Many are flown by the owner and some employ professional flight crews.
These are some of the aspects that a potential aircraft owner needs to research prior to making the purchase. The choice of aircraft available range from phenomenally equipped, four-seat single-engined cruising aircraft to versatile turbo-props that can operate across a range of environments and business jets of all sizes. The good news is that an aircraft exists to match virtually every conceivable niche of operations, from beach landings in a helicopter to cruising at near the speed of sound.
Brave New World.
Recent years have seen tremendous developments in private aircraft on many fronts, not the least of which are the avionics suites on offer. The instrumentation and communications systems on offer in these cockpits outclass some of the airliners that inhabit our skies. While the advent of GPS has led to incredible precision in navigation, the instrument displays themselves have made incredible inroads, with a potential flow-on to safety.
A necessary skill of a pilot is to interpret their instruments and use this information to mentally visualise their place in the three dimensions. The combination of where they’ve been, where they are and where they are going is known as ‘Situational Awareness’ and is a core element of safe flight operations. The large multi-function colour screens that now inhabit private aircraft make this task more straightforward and with a reduced workload. There is synthetic vision technology to provide a representation of the surrounding terrain, complete with warnings.
Moving maps allow the route to be seen as clearly as any chart, but in real time with weather and airspace overlays. Additionally, the systems are integrated through flight management systems which allow the entry and modification of flight plans with relative ease. Pressurisation systems can offer flight above much of the weather and the increasing availability of Full Authority Digital Engine Control, or FADEC, has made engine handling much more straightforward.
Such enhancements are of tremendous benefit, particularly in a high workload environment, but they are also good news for the owners that wish to fly themselves. Manufacturers have become increasingly aware of owners transitioning onto increasingly sophisticated aircraft and the impressive technology found at the top end of modern fleets is very similar to the displays that can be found in many entry-level training aircraft. Some of these are even fitted with a ballistic parachute system as an additional safeguard.
And for those owners wishing to embark on the journey of becoming their own pilot, they can be supported by advanced ground training systems and even flight simulators. Once qualified, ongoing training support is available, too. In conjunction with quality training, all these elements have combined to make the path from fledgling pilot to owner/operator more straightforward than aircraft design has previously permitted.
Taking Care of Business.
Safety always remains the priority in any form of flight operations. This involves the maintenance of the aircraft, the training and ongoing proficiency of the crew and the compliance with defined procedures at both a regulatory and personal level.
Some owners enjoy this task as part of the role of ownership, while others outsource it to professional agencies. Depending on the size and complexity of the organisation, a company may wish to create a Flight Department within its structure and task its pilots with the responsibility of managing the various aspects of the operation. There are various means of achieving the necessary outcomes, but even when an aircraft is used for leisure, the standard of oversight and operation must be of a professional level to obtain an uncompromisingly high standard of safety and efficiency.
To offset the fiscal burden of a private aircraft, some owners have allowed their aircraft to be used by charter companies, while some have sought utilisation through flying training organisations. The income from these ‘cross-hire’ arrangements can be used against the ongoing maintenance and operating costs of the aircraft.
The tasks in which the aircraft are to be used and the qualifications of those at the helm need to be thoroughly defined and agreed upon in advance. It must also be appreciated that other company’s passengers may not display the same level of care for the cabin interior and that trainee pilots may also equate to higher maintenance costs. Furthermore, flexible, personal use of the aircraft may be constrained by the aircraft’s deployment elsewhere. While these factors may not necessarily preclude gaining valuable utilisation elsewhere, they most definitely need to be assessed.
Fractional ownership is another means of offsetting the costs, and there are various companies established to facilitate this type of operation. There are varying models, but in essence, one purchases a portion or “share” of a specific aircraft and that share equals a particular number of hours you can fly in that aircraft type over an agreed period.
Whether it be cross-hiring to a charter company, a training institution or undertaking fractional ownership, the cost of ownership can be countered to some degree through these mechanisms. Each can be a beneficial arrangement for both parties. However, as with any aspect of aviation, thorough planning beforehand is always recommended.
Doing Business.
The sophistication and comfort available in private aircraft of all categories are at a higher level than ever before. Similarly, the ability for owners and operators to transition smoothly between various types has been made easier through the increasing commonality and simplicity of the aircraft systems and equipment.
The responsibility to operate an aircraft in a safely and professionally is always paramount, however, in doing so, a high degree of flexibility, convenience and efficiency on offer to the modern aircraft owner. Both as an asset to a business and a means of unsurpassed personal transport, there are real benefits to be gained by taking flight when you do business.

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