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Aviation Thoughts No Comments

The title of the post is an interesting one, in that you really have to consider both of them equally important to be successful.  However, it seems more often than not, the passionate side of aviation takes precedence to the profitable side, which is why so many aviation business ventures fail.  My personal experience is that the “aviation entrepeneur” is so passionate about “airplanes/flying” that they just don’t want to accept any critical analysis to make the business profitable.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do at that point, except watch the business try and extend the glide w/both engines feathered, flaps up, gear up, but with 20 miles to go to the runway!

Although at times the blog may seem negative, the fact remains that many small aviation business entities are in denial that there is a problem.  However, moreso than any other small business segment that is assumed to be in business to make a profitable, aviation seems to be more caught up in the thoughts that it isn’t right to make money in this, is it?  Why that conclusion?  Because when a true evaluation of the business is looked at and realistically pieced together, nothing makes sense.  But what is really cracked, is that when you try and help the aviation entrepeneur move forward and actually build a business…NOPE, lets stop here because I have passion and that will solve the problem.  Except the books don’t look so good, so what is one to do?  The perils of being a profesional aviation consultant is one of peculiar business motives, and bewildering ways of consistent bad business behavior.


Just WHAT is it that motivates people to want to enter GA as a ?business? ? their ?passion? for flying or financial security and reward ? or both ? in that order?

Having been in GA as a business in the thriving years of the 60?s and 70?s (1966-78), when the ?recreational? segment of General Aviation was booming, it wasn?t until 1978 when I learned that my NEED for financial security far ?out weighted? my fondness, notice I used the word fondness for flying rather than passion, for I believed I didn?t have this driving ?passion? for flying; rather a desire to excel at a ?business? and aviation ? in that order.

Yes, I truly enjoyed the ?camaraderie? of fellow pilots, up to a point, but, I had interest in OTHER things; there IS life beyond the airport! And perhaps this is where I learned that I was a young ?businessman? FIRST and a pilot, incidentally, in THAT order. This ?conflict? didn?t seem to be very compatible with the airport ?gang?; WHY would anyone in aviation want to be ANYTHING other than JUST a pilot ? I was ?miscast? ? badly – fire the casting director!

After much independent research study and the equivalent of a Doctorate Thesis in Business?, I?ve concluded that: 1. Business or financially motivated and oriented people are RARELY in any aspect of the recreational segment of GA 2. On the other hand, the investment minded gravitate towards aviation ventures with MAXIMUM Return On Investment/Equity (ROI/E) and MIMIMAL risk ? hence the ?upscale? FBO enterprise rather than the higher risk of ANY business aspect of the recreational areas of GA.

Is this the REASON we don?t see business ?sense abilities? of those entering the recreational side of GA ? and in particular, the ?flight school? – the motive just isn?t financial whatsoever?

And herein lies the dichotomy; can the ?retail? recreational segment model itself with a LESS ?emotional? (business like) motivation for their existence and put the FIRST priority on PROFIT rather than PASSION?

Now here?s where this gets tricky; does the MORE business demeanor of one?s ?recreational? or smaller FBO/flight school lose its social friendly and warm camaraderie and viewed as ?sterile? and cold as a result?

One might ask then: is there a relationship between the ?attitude? of the FBO/flight school owner and the recreational aviation consumer ? I conclude, MOST diffidently!

OK ? here goes; those aviation consumer?s whose priority is the ?exchange? of aviation events and topics, are merely using aviation as a ?magnet? or social engagement ? a meeting of friends and buddies of similar interest. I?ll be careful here ? but how MUCH money are they putting into the FBO/flight schools business checking account?

Wonder why your ?not welcomed? with open arms by your FBO/flight school ? the answer probably lies in the previous paragraph ? is the wall size ?Pilots Lounge Hobbs Meter? the answer for the profit motivated FBO/flight school?

Now I would like to ?pencil this out?. The reality may seem a bit harsh to many, but the Aviation Retail Provider or ARP, my new term for the FBO, etc, will not survive without the aviation consumer $pending money for their products and services ? and in VOLUME ? not the occasional purchase of a sectional or AIM every other year ? but aircraft sales, annual inspections, fuel or upgraded training that translates into INCOME to the ARP!

Bottom line here; the aviation consumer who doesn?t support their ?ARP? is not doing the GA industry any favors ? frankly, if you?re not willing and able to financially afford flying in any capacity then you may best find another hobby ? Medicare hasn?t become ?Aviacare? ? not yet anyway!

For ?recreational aviation? to survive for the working/middle classes who feel that their being squeezed out do to shear economics, i.e. inflation, etc and high entry or lasting cost of flight training or aircraft, best band together to find communality where they can, with limited disposable income, find a cost effective solution to their plight.

One is the ?co-op? small private airpark concept, I feel this has many possibilities – but, again, it will take MONEY. Perhaps, thought done by a large volume of shareholders and memberships ? and outside of major populations, may succeed.

So for future general aviation business ?entrepreneurs?, if making a lot of social ?friends?, being popular and subsidizing your FBO/flight school venture from income from your $200K ?day job? is your thing, I wish you the best.

But for those who are SERIOUS about being profitable, and ALSO having new friends, start with this; can I step back a minute, without emotion or passion for flying and ask ? does this make any CENT$ as a business or do I just want to become a ?social director? after all?

Then you?ve answered the question rationally; is my motive ?Passion or Profit? ? or ideally, both!

Turbocharged piston engines ? a few thoughts.

Aviation Thoughts 25 Comments

About two weeks ago I was in Lincoln NE to deliver a Super King Air B200 for a new interior.  It is an airplane we purchased for business, it has the Pratt & Whitney PT-6 latest -61 engines, synthetic vision G1000, BRL winglets, wing lockers, aft strakes, every option known to man.  I will get some photos and experience write-ups once I get the airplane back.  Nevertheless, while walking across the ramp, a pilot with a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza was having problems getting the engine to start, so I thought I may be able to help, being that I have about 3,000 hours behind IO-520/IO-550 Continental engines.  The pilot had cranked the engine to the point that I knew the starter probably was in trouble, and obviously the engine was flooded so I was unable to get the engine to start…best thing to leave it alone for 30 minutes, as the Continental engines are most difficult to start when they are half cold/half hot. Read More

Aviation Business – Why so little growth?

Aviation Thoughts 2 Comments

Owner Assisted Surgery ? Would you agree the outcome would be questionable?

Interesting topic, sure we know what the anatomy of the hand might be, but do we really want to get in there and fix it ourself if it is broken? I think this is what many small aviation business owners attempt, and it usually results in amputation to save the rest of the body.  Why so negative, my last comment about aviation and the ?next sucker please?, but seriously, we need to start looking at the problems we face in this industry, and figure out a better way to do business…and making money in aviation isn’t a bad thing, especially when you are working hard to develop your business and offer the best product for the price. Read More

Aviation Business ? Next Sucker Please?

Airplane Business 2 Comments

What a title for a discussion about the ?Law of Supply and Demand?, but we have to be realistic in assessing why there has been millions of dollars invested in this business, with absolutely no return for the money.  Whether AOPA wants to admit it, GAMA, the NBAA or other aviation organizations, the fact is there is a limited amount of real demand for this product.  This is the most crucial element that the flight school, FBO, or Aviation entrepreneur doesn?t consider when they approach this business and therefore the rational for operating in this industry is all emotion.  Read More

Piper Aircraft Corp., if you are looking for a few ideas ? How to sell more than the competition

Aviation Thoughts 3 Comments

Aviation seems to have a way of heartache over common sense business rules that lead to further development of the product, and profitable operations.  This is mainly due to the low volume that most aircraft are produced, and it takes a lot of capital to develop and certify so the stakes are high.  This being the case, you would want to make sure you understood the aviation market, and were certain that the product being developed would sell.  It seems that there are aircraft designs that never get off the ground, and whoever thought they would, should read my definition of incompetence. (People too stupid to realize they are dumb).  An example would be the latest flying car, which when you sit down and look at the project as being practical, the answer is obvious.  Yet there are people out there investing in something that has no practical way of working, on top of that, demand for something like that just isn?t available no matter how smart the engineer was/is. Read More