Blog about aviation & marketing

The Icon5 – can it make it into the marketplace?

Airplane Business 3 Comments

So here we are, after the concept, the design and engineering that goes into building a prototype, ironing out any bad tendencies during development, it is now time to manufacture.  From the initial prototype that was finished in 2008, we have another eight years of updates and development to bring the airplane to market.  All things considered, eight years is a long time, the worlds fastest airplane was designed and built in 26 months by Lockheed Skunkworks. This leads to my question – will the A5 survive the marketplace.  Time is money, lets explore the realities of aircraft design! Read More

General Aviation Forecast 2017

Airplane Business 6 Comments

With the election over, it is time to take a look at what the new administration is going to set for the business of general aviation.  Typically I won’t spend time on something like this, but this new administration brings to the table a lot more business related experience, along with being successful at running a business – unlike a politician who, for the most part, doesn’t know how to run anything at all.  Am I a Trumpster?  I would have to admit that I like his approach as being an outsider, and I am not alone.  Whether you want to admit it or not, America voted for Donald Trump regardless of popular vote Vs. Electoral College numbers.  So what can we expect?  I think we are in for an economy that is going to grow at a pace not seen in many decades, which will benefit general aviation significantly.  Along with less regulation, the guy gets it, business needs to be able to use capital to bring new products to the market, so lets look at how this is going to work. Read More

No matter how much you love airplanes, business is still about selling the product!

Airplane Business 5 Comments

Working with flight schools has taught me one thing about aviation, and that is most of these small business entities don’t understand the simple fundamentals of building a profitable business.  Most completely IGNORE the fundamentals, and are so simplistic in the approach, they just can’t understand why they are failing.  In fact, when AOPA tries to figure out the 80% + washout rate of student pilots, they attribute it to FAA regulations being too cumbersome.  How naive this is, when the reality is – the industry if full of engineers and highly skilled people, what it truly lacks is someone with SALES SKILLS!  Hello! Read More

Selling new airplanes – maybe we need a better business model

Airplane Business 3 Comments

The price of a new airplane is very expensive, seemingly getting more and more out of reach as volume stays consistent.  Airplanes have always been expensive, they are hand built and the market is relatively small, so to stay in business, you have to price the product to cover expenses and to make a profit.  I get that!  However, what I have noticed about most aviation manufacturers, is that they simply want to sell you a new airplane…if you show up with the dough to buy one.  Some manufacturers will discount the airplane as an enticement, but that can only take you so far in the road to the sale.  What is severely lacking in this industry, is an aggressive sales approach to double the unit sales AND to sell as many airplanes as possible.  It seems the industry takes the stance that “this is aviation” therefore this is the way we do things.  I 100% believe that is why the manufacturers are declining in new production airplanes AND they are not maximizing their potential! Read More

So you want to start your own airplane company – a few thoughts

Airplane Business 5 Comments

Will general aviation ever see another upstart aircraft manufacturer, or is building and certifying a new airplane just too complex for reality?  It used to be easier to certify a new airplane design, which brought about many new designs and choices into the single and multi-engine piston market. Some of these include the Wing Derringer two place twin engine airplane, the Mooney M-22 Mustang, the first piston single airplane that was pressurized, and as another example, the Grumman American single engine airplane line, that was actually quite successful.  Since the mid 1980’s, there have been several attempts to bring a new airplane to the market, such as the Adams 500 centerline thrust twin, the Eclipse 500, with design attempts to certify single engine jets like the VisionAir Vantage jet.  Each one of these design prospects brought an interesting design element, however, none of them sold very well.  Lets look at two successful designs, and find the elements that make an aviation manufacturer a possibility for long term viability. Read More

The classic piston engine airliner – what an era for the airline growth, and why the jet airplane took over so quickly

Airplane Business 5 Comments

I had purchased a book by Bill Yenne titled “Classic American Airliners” for a friend as a present for the Christmas Holiday season.  When the book arrived, it was in rough shape from the trip, so I set the book aside and ordered another book that would replace this one, and kept the Bill Yenne book to read for myself.  After Christmas, I set down and started to look through the pages, and was romanced by this era of airline travel, when piston engines were it! I enjoyed reading about the Martin 4-0-4, the Convair 240, the development of the DC-4 from the military C-54, etc.  It was about an era when airline flight was being developed, and a time when less than 50% of the population of the United States had ever flown on an airlane.  The 50’s era airplanes represented the continued development of the piston engine airline, and how the booming economy of the 1950’s, drove the technology for bigger and better airplanes. Sure, the jet airline with a faster cruise, higher altitude operation, and double the passenger loads meant convenience and reliability.  However, the classic piston engine airplane used by the airline industry still has a unique place in history.  We will discover how technology AND the economic factors drove the piston engine airliner to extinction in less than 15 years. Read More

A five time speed record holding airplane that was never built – part 5, the last of the series

Airplane Business, Aviation Thoughts 15 Comments

There are very few airplanes that don’t make it into the marketplace if they are an exceptional performing airplane.  The last airplane we will analyze in this series, is an airplane that when it was first one to be built, set five speed records in the first two years of it’s existence.  It is an airplane that not only had exceptional performance, but was in the hottest category of piston aviation at the time, and that was the six place high performance category.  At the time, Beechcraft was turning out Bonanza A36 Bonanza and the V35B, Piper was building the Piper Lance II, while Cessna was selling the Cessna T210.  They called them “King Kong Singles” because they all featured the largest piston engines at the time, they had six seat with the exception of the V-tail Bonanza, and had performance that was very close to most of the light twins of the day. You won’t believe the performance of the airplane we are going to examine, and it is a real head scratcher as to why this airplane isn’t currently in production, but we will try to discover why! Read More

Airplanes that were cool and well designed, but never sold in the market – Part 3

Airplane Business No Comments

Every once in a while, there is an airplane design that changes everything. Whether it is performance, capabilities in the category, innovation, or the construction of the airframe.  For part 3 in the series, this piston powered single engine airplane not only was an innovator, but had all the elements to make it a great airplane.  What I found most interesting about the development of the airplane, was the facts it was a project that had a two year certification from first flight to completion!  This is unheard of in today’s world, especially when you consider the most recent certifications like the Eclipse 500 VLJ, and the Icon5 LSA.  Even an experienced manufacturer like Cessna couldn’t get the Skycatcher LSA this quickly, as it was over three years before the airplane went from prototype to certification.

This particular airplane really was poised to be a market leader, as the high performance piston single category was going great guns.  The Beechcraft Bonanza was in it’s prime with the V35 and 285 horsepower leading the way in performance, Bellanca’s Viking was in the same class, while the Piper Comanche C was in production for 1969, and Pipers Arrow had a new 200 horsepower Lycoming, while Cessna was selling the Centurion with the new cantilever wing. Everything was looking good, deliveries for this type of airplane were on the increase, and the timing for the introduction of it was perfect.  Why did it fail?  This is the most difficult one to figure out, other than it takes a lot of capital to get involved with design, development, and production of a certified airplane….just ask Honda about the Honda Jet. Read More

Five airplane designs that never sold in the marketplace – part 2

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The second airplane on our list, is an airplane that I believe if it were brought back into production, it would be a successful airplane and would be very profitable.  This airplane was the bomb performance wise when introduced, because it had the capabilities to knock off it’s turboprop driven rival, and as a business airplane, could actually take on many of the lighter corporate jets at the time and in many cases, exceed the performance in climb and cruise.  The business turboprop is the most flexible category of aircraft, based on the economy of operation, and the most useful for most business needs. The turboprop business airplane has enjoyed probably one of the most stable production runs in the history of aviation, as the other categories seem to swing more based on the economy at the time.

What makes the turboprop airplane appealing, is what it can do for a business, especially during the growth phases as it is the most practical airplane to use. The airplane that is the subject of this post, is an airplane that exceeded the performance level of turboprop aircraft being produced at the time, while coming very close to the next step up Citation II business jet.  Being able to carry up to nine people more comfortably than the jet, that ability to fly in and out of shorter runways, and be able to do it at a per mile cost less than the competition and the jet, you would think this airplane would be a winner. However, production was shut down in the early 90’s, when the prices continued to rise much faster than the GDP, whereby demand for these airplanes became very soft.  That being said, the aircraft still would be the performance champ, and can still compete with a lot of the smaller corporate jet, it is amazing to me this airplane has not been brought back into production.   Read More

Airplanes – for business or pleasure?

Airplane Business 1 Comment

Want to understand the general aviation piston engine airplane conundrum?  Here is a feature article by Rod Beck with the approach of practicality and reality as to achieving success in just about ANY facet of general aviation.  The reality gets down to one major factor in the market, and that is demand for the product.  In aviation this often is the last thing considered in an airplane design, or the idea of starting a flight school, when it should be the #1 consideration for pursuing your aviation dreams.  The analogy of the big bands to GA light airplanes is right on the money!  So if you are confused by why everyone says “want to make a small fortune in aviation, start with a large fortune!” then get your pen out and take some notes, I think you will discover a lot of missteps that aviation seems to want to continue to repeat over and over. Read More