Business Aviation Magazine Issue 25 - Spring 2023

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Nasim Raja CHAIR Max Raja





Flying high

This issue celebrates the amazing 70 year history of Rolls-Royce Business Aviation. With climate change front and centre in the minds of both governments and the public, it is tremendous to see engine manufacturers investing hugely in designing and producing ever more fuel efficient engines.

We’re now very close to having these engines certified to fly on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel, while flying on 50 percent drop in SAF is now no problem. That is great news for the whole business aviation community. It will be a boost to charter sales as well, since the more efficient business aviation becomes at limiting our carbon footprint, the more we remove one of the concerns that potential customers might have.

Rolls-Royce’s Pearl 700 engine will be powering Gulfstream’s flagship model, the G700, which will soon be certified. It is also on the Gulfstream 800, with its globe-spanning 8,000 nautical mile range. Many will remember that the G800 had its maiden flight on 28 June 2022, which began the flight testing programme.

It is also good to see that the vast majority of companies in this sector have got off to a great start in 2023. Coming after what many organisations saw as a record 2022, this has been good news for the industry as a whole.

Consolidation continues across the sector, which is normal for any healthy industry. It has its plusses and its minuses. We want to see the iconic movers and shakers in the industry getting bigger and stronger. The downside is that there are always winners and losers. Some firms are bound to lose out on the third party work associated with the acquired company. However, one can equally argue that acquisitions generally clear niches for others to grow into.

We’re headed for what may well be the biggest EBACE of all time. It will certainly be spectacular. BAM, of course, will be holding another of our famous networking parties at EBACE. The date is 24 May, the place: Cercle des Bains, Rue des Vieux, Grenadiers 10, 1205 Geneva, 8.00 pm until late. This is a by-invitation only event, so contact Max or Roger if you are interested.

GLOBAL LUXURY CORRESPONDENT • • For all enquiries, please contact Max Raja at or on +44 (0)203 865 3736 Printed in the UK by Print Pro Consultancy Distributed by Asendia BizAv Media Ltd is the holding company. Business Aviation Magazine, BizAv Yearbook, BizAv Events and BizAv Connect are all subsidiaries of BizAv Media Ltd. BizAv Media Ltd. Copyright: © 2023. All rights reserved. MEGHA BHATIA VP SALES AND MARKETING ROLLS-ROYCE BUSINESS AVIATION Unrivalled pedigree SPRING 2023
& CEO Anthony

Positive Change

Breaking new ground

Better together

New Directions

12 Unrivalled Pedigree

Rolls-Royce VP, Sales and Marketing, Megha Bhatia, on the company’s leading position and 60+ year history in business aviation

20 Positive Change

Neil Boyle, SVP of Operations and General Manager of Citadel Completions, talks about his plans for the company

Chief Commercial Officer of VistaJet and Vista, Ian Moore, on the company’s astonishing growth over the last two decades

34 New Directions

Eric Lewin, the CEO of AIC Global Solutions, on how the service has grown internationally

40 Breaking new Ground

Sergio Aguirre, President and Chief Operating Officer of Gogo Business Aviation, discusses the next wave in broadband

46 Better together

Andy Priester, Chairman and CEO of Priester Aviation and Mayo Aviation, on the success of the merger of the two companies

54 Technical breakthroughs

Gentex Chief Technology Officer, Neil Boehm, on the company’s breakthrough technologies

60 Setting a high bar

Steve Chandoha, Meridian President, on the company’s two FBOs being named among the top FBOs in North America

66 A worldwide service

John Villanova, Chairman of Limousines Worldwide, on the company’s globespanning services

72 A legacy of innovation

Members of the Avfuel team on the company’s successes, future direction and 50th Anniversary

80 Painting the future

Pilatus and SherwinWilliams discusses their cutting-edge collaboration

88 Exciting Times in Aviation

Captain Hamish Harding, Chairman of Action Aviation, on his company’s successes and his own recent adventures

Spring 2023 issue 25 54 72 40 46 20 66 34
24 Leading the world
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Unrivalled pedigree

Megha Bhatia, VP Sales and Marketing, Business Aviation, Rolls-Royce talks to Anthony Harrington about the company’s leading position and 60+ year history in business aviation

AH: Megha, let’s begin with a brief recap of Rolls-Royce’s multi-decade history in business aviation.

MB: Rolls-Royce has played a key role in business aviation going back to the early days powering the first aircraft designed to be a business jet. We went on to provide engines for many generations that came after, and continue to build on the heritage established, with continued focus on producing more efficient and environmentally conscious engines.

Today, we are providing our Pearl 700 engines for Gulfstream’s upcoming flagship aircraft, the G700, which will enter service soon, and the G800.

Similarly, with Bombardier, we have provided engines for a wide range of the company’s Global aircraft, such as the Global Express, Global 5000 and 6000 and its successors. Our Pearl 15 engine, the first member of our successful Pearl engine family, powers the Global 5500 and the 6500.

And Rolls-Royce engines also deliver the thrust for Embraer and Cessna airframes. There are over 4,000 business jets in the skies flying with our engines, which means there are over 8000 engines in service.

AH: That is a great number of engines to take care of, right?

MB: Indeed. We also revolutionised the engine maintenance management by introducing ‘Power-by-thehour’ over 60 years ago. An innovative approach that provided a complete engine and accessory replacement service for the first time on a fixed-cost-per-flying-hour basis. This aligned the interests of the manufacturer and operator, who only paid for engines that performed well.

Power-by-the-hour forms the foundation of our comprehensive service offerings and has evolved into today’s CorporateCare® Enhanced programme which is supported by our dedicated business aviation service network, one of the largest networks in the industry today. The service network is exclusively focussed on the unique

needs of our business jet customers which is time and availability of the aircraft. Our customers clearly recognise the value of this powerful services infrastructure - over 72% of the Rolls-Royce powered business jets are covered by our market-leading CorporateCare programme - something we are very proud of.

We also revolutionised the engine maintenance management by introducing ‘Power-by-the-hour’ over 60 years ago. An innovative approach that provided a complete engine and accessory replacement service for the first time on a fixed-cost-per-flying-hour basis.”

What makes the program stand out from competition is the fact, it is a single comprehensive solution which transfers the risk to us. Customers and influencers value the simplicity of the protection that translates to no costly surprises. They also recognize the financial benefits of the program through increased residual asset value and liquidity, as well as faster resale of the aircraft.

In 2019, we launched CorporateCare Enhanced as the new precedent of coverage. CorporateCare Enhanced was a customer ask and developed with our Corporate Customer Council to provide a turn-key solution where everything we provided is covered under the program.

For the Pearl and BR700 engine families, CorporateCare Enhanced covers maintenance for the complete powerplant including nacelle, engine build-up and thrust reverser unitrelated services. Unlimited corrosion & erosion coverage, additional line-maintenance services and AOG mobile repair travel are also included for previously mentioned engine families as well as for the Tay and AE engine families.


AH: Is there some insurance company underwriting this programme or is it all Rolls-Royce?

MB: All risk is transferred to Rolls-Royce. We have the confidence to take this on because we know our engines best and we have a dedicated business aviation service network. We have over 1,000 personnel who exclusively work on our business aircraft engines and over 75 authorised service centres spread around the globe.

Additionally, we have more than 70 on-wing technicians and 10 parts warehouses globally to ensure that we are able to service our business aviation customers wherever they are. And if needed, we can also resort to over 170 engines and nacelle assets in our lease programme. We have placed our assets at strategic places around the globe. This means we can take an engine off the wing, replace it and get the customer flying again with minimal downtime.

One of our major KPIs is to target 100 percent averted missed trips. That means no CorporateCare customer will be AOG long enough to miss their next planned trip. Within 16 hours of a call, we aim to have our parts and technicians at any AOG event. Our current tracking shows that we are achieving over 99 percent averted missed trips. Of course, we are in constant pursuit of perfection, and therefore strive to consistently achieve 100% availability.

AH: I imagine that a network on this scale takes a very significant investment?

MB: It absolutely does. Ten years ago, our service network was much smaller. Feedback from our market analysis and our client base helped us understand what was needed to scale up our services so that we were in a much stronger position to support this precious asset for our business aviation customers globally.


AH: It must take a tremendous effort to gear up the service network for a new engine release.

MB: We must ensure, that starting from Day 1 of a new engine programme, we also have a comprehensive services concept in place. For example, we have the new Pearl 10X engine in development. This is the engine that is going to power Dassault’s new flagship Falcon 10X, which will enter into service in the middle of this decade. This is the first Rolls-Royce engine to power a Dassault aircraft, so we are very proud of this win. Besides the excellent performance and technology that the engine offers, our services approach has been a major contributor to winning this campaign for us.

Our Pearl family of engines incorporate the latest technology coming out of Rolls-Royce’s Advance 2 demonstrator programme. The Pearl family features the most efficient core across the business aviation sector. For the Pearl 10X we

We have the new Pearl 10X engine in development. This is the engine that is going to power Dassault’s new flagship Falcon 10X, which will enter into service in the middle of this decade. This is the first Rolls-Royce engine to power a Dassault aircraft, so we are very proud of this win.”

combined this core with a with a high-performance low-pressure system, featuring a blisked fan, and a new ultra-low emissions ALM combustor. The result is a combination of highly-efficient power and outstanding environmental performance that ensures that the Pearl 10X is in a class of its own.

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Everything we do is focused on improving engine durability and efficiency and helping to make business aviation more environmentally friendly. We have also proven that our engines are compatible with running on 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) as a drop-in solution, for example. We have focused on getting to this point because we recognise our leading role in the industry and to support the certification of this unblended fuel.

Today, all Rolls-Royce engines can fly with a 50 percent blended SAF mix. Our BR725 engines powering G650 have completed a test flight with 100% SAF.

“ We now have a very successful relationships with all five of the major airframe OEMs, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, and Gulfstream. Where possible, we like to have a neighbouring presence with our partner OEMs.”

AH: You have had some great wins with airframe OEMS, against other engine providers. What is involved in achieving these wins?

MB: Winning competitions against other engine OEMs is all about ensuring that we both advance and incorporate the latest engine technology, and demonstrating, repeatedly, that we build really efficient, durable engines, backed by a worldclass support network.

It is also about harnessing the latest digital capabilities. Our Pearl family of engines, for example, is able to continuously monitor an enormous range of parameters while it is running. Everything from engine vibration, temperatures, or pressures to the functioning of the engine as a whole or even line replaceable units are being monitored in real time. We’re taking data from up to 10,000 different parameters, and this is all part of our ‘Intelligent Engine’ vision.

This is part of a larger vision to ensure that as an organisation we have a comprehensive view of performance trends across our fleet while they are in use. This enables us to spot potential issues well before they become a problem for aircraft owners and operators, giving us the opportunity to proactively address items before they disrupt the customer. All these elements make us one of the leading engine power providers in business aviation today.

AH: What are your relationships like now with the major airframe OEMs?

MB: With our most recent win powering the Falcon 10X, we now have a very successful relationships with all five of the major airframe OEMs, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, and Gulfstream. Where possible, we like to have a neighbouring presence with our partner OEMs. We have facilities in Savannah, in Montreal where we have our dedicated M&O shop for BizAv engines, and we plan to open a new production support facility next to the Dassault site in Bordeaux, France.

The investment ensures that we are always close to our OEM airframe partners and that we are able to support them and our customers in the best way possible. |BAM


Positive change

about his plans for the company

: Neil, what can you tell us about your route to your current position heading up Citadel Completions?

NB: After full careers in the Air Force maintaining aircraft, working in private aviation, production and completions organisations, I was confident that I could make a positive difference at Citadel Completions taking it to the next level. I visited the Lake Charles facility and had the opportunity to meet with both the owners and employees, I knew this was a great opportunity to use my leadership experience, knowledge, passion, and excitement for VIP Aviation Business in widebodied, narrow-bodied and large cabin aircraft.

The employees’ devotion to their craft impressed me tremendously, demonstrating their enthusiasm, hard work


and dedication to providing clients with quality service. Having already learned so much at Jet Aviation and Gulfstream Aerospace, I was sure this company would be the perfect fit for me to continue my career and share my knowledge and experiences.

Thus, after several positive discussions and getting a closer look at what Citadel had to offer, I accepted the appointment of SVP & GM Citadel Completions LLC. With my extensive knowledge spanning multiple areas within aviation, be it regulatory compliance, EH&S, SMS, production, assembly interiors requirements, this was a perfect fit for both the owners and myself. I look forward to leading and contributing to an already high-functioning and dedicated team.

Q: What is the current state of the market, and how does that play into your strategy for the company?

NB: The VVIP Aircraft Completions market is experiencing a growth in demand. After two difficult years for aviation as a whole, private owners are now looking to upgrade to large cabin, narrow-body, and wide-body aircraft. Citadel is at the forefront of the completions industry, creating innovative interior designs and delivering outstanding customer service.

As Citadel’s leader, I am constantly striving towards perfection by providing our clients with the best possible experience when it comes to VVIP completions and refurbishments. It’s

an exciting and positive time for my entire team at Citadel, when it comes to exhibiting excellence through our projects and our attention to detail regarding quality and innovation. In addition to providing high-quality workmanship and impeccable customer service, we will be even more focused on turning aircraft into truly unique showpieces and design excellence.

The market for VVIP Aircraft Completions is rapidly expanding as private owners continue to seek new ways to customize and refine their aircraft; our job is to assist in making that dream a reality. As the industry continues to grow, we will ensure that customers receive only the highest level of quality service as we earn our place as leaders of the completions industry.

Q: What are your plans for Citadel going forward?

NB: The first order of business is to secure a more extensive backlog of existing work, looking at the market concentrating on major refurbishments and upgrades. Connectivity is a significant topic of discussion these days, and that part of the industry is growing at a rapid and highly technological pace.

Q: What is happening on the MRO front as well as on the completions side?

NB: We continue to provide excellent VIP aircraft maintenance and modifications to all types of aircraft, which

“ I look forward to leading and contributing to an already highfunctioning and dedicated team.”

is part of our daily tasks coupled with the interiors work. There has been an increase on this work, a demand that I can only attribute to the increase in flight hours globally.

Q: What does it mean that Citadel is now an ACJ service center?

NB: Citadel Completions is very proud to be an Airbus Corporate Jet Service Centre Network (“ACJ SCN”) provider, offering full-service support for a range of business and corporate jet aircraft. This includes parts, maintenance, engineering services, and support in more than 50 countries throughout the world. It’s always a plus to have those OEM stamps of approval.

Customers can rest assured that any aircraft they take redelivery of has been subject to thorough analysis with no detail left unchecked. Our team of experienced engineers also ensure that any technical issues are promptly addressed so our customers can once again take to open sky in style and comfort.

In addition, our comprehensive suite of customization options allows customers to fully upgrade their aircraft’s interior according to their particular needs and preferences. We offer expert guidance in everything from selecting modern materials and specifying seating configurations to creating an inviting atmosphere that reflects the character of its owner. From start to finish, customers will know their individual requirements will always take the lead on any design they desire.

All in all, becoming a member of the Airbus Corporate Jet Service Centre Network is a testament to Citadel Completions’ commitment to exceeding customer expectations on every level possible.

NB: We look forward to catching up with all our customers, current and future, at EBACE this year, come see us at booth W85 and at the Business Aviation Magazine Networking event! |BAM



· Maintenance and upgrades, optimising comfort and performance.

· Dedicated Airbus corporate jet specialists.

· MRO facilities strategically located across the globe.

· Delivering an aircraft that flies efficiently, reliably and beautifully.

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Leading the world

Chief Commercial Officer of VistaJet and Vista, Ian Moore, talks to Anthony Harrington about the company’s astonishing growth over the last two decades


VistaJet — part of Vista Global Holding (Vista) — since its inception in 2004, has transformed from a start-up with two aircraft in Europe to a global aviation unicorn, with clients enjoying access to the Vista Members’ fleet of over 360 aircraft. Flying to 96% of the world, and 187 countries, its floating fleet stands out for its iconic silver and red branding, unparalleled and consistent service, and proven operational expertise over the past 19 years, while its pioneering subscription-based Program membership means clients only pay for the hours they fly, with guaranteed availability with as little as 24 hours notice, 365 days a year, at a fixed hourly rate.

VistaJet offers every private aviation client a simple, flexible and secure solution for their flying needs: from one-off flights to global subscriptions for corporations and private individuals, from as little as 25 hours per year.

AH: VistaJet has pursued an active acquisitions strategy. Can you tell us a bit about that approach and about your recent acquisitions?

IM: The Vista Members’ fleet continues to expand to meet Member demand through acquisitions and new aircraft orders. Over the last 10 years Vista has invested over $4 billion in new aircraft — most recently taking delivery of the world’s largest fleet of Global 7500 aircraft — currently at 18.

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With the most recent Vista acquisitions of Air Hamburg and Jet Edge, Members have access to a greater range of aircraft and availability — Air Hamburg expands our scale in Europe and the Middle East; Jet Edge significantly scales up Vista’s U.S. presence.

During the first six months of 2022, Vista added over 100 aircraft to the fleet, both through the two acquisitions and through scheduled fleet deliveries. Today, Vista clients have access to a Members’ fleet of over 360 aircraft, including the iconic silver and red jets with a consistent look and feel throughout. The global fleet comprises all ranges and aircraft classes, including Global 7500, Global 6000, Falcon 7X, G450, Challenger 350 and Citation XLS jets.

AH: How much of a boost to charter services did VistaJet see through Covid, and how well has that translated into 2023?

IM: The demand for business aviation and a guaranteed product is thriving. Global flights on business aircraft rose by 10% in 2022 from the previous year and were 14% higher than before the pandemic in 2019, according to data company WingX. Bookings for private flights began to accelerate in 2022 as the UHNWIs and business travellers sought to avoid crowds and COVID-19 restrictions in place at commercial airlines.

We are seeing a bigger trend in desiring asset free solutions. Individuals want to avoid owning a multimillion-dollar


“ Today, Vista clients have access to a Members’ fleet of over 360 aircraft, including the iconic silver and red jets with a consistent look and feel throughout. The global fleet comprises all ranges and aircraft classes, including Global 7500, Global 6000, Falcon 7X, G450, Challenger 350 and Citation XLS jets.”


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“ The renowned VistaJet service — from fully enabled business suites to relaxing family spaces, served by Cabin Hosts trained by the British Butler Institute, MedAire, Norland College and Wine & Spirit Education Trust, is unparalleled.”

private jet when they can buy a subscription, only paying for the hours needed.

As a result, 2022 was yet another outstanding year for Vista. The Group continues to see strong growth across its subscription solutions and services, with revenue up over 50% against the same period in 2021. This was driven by a surge of 74% in VistaJet’s Program membership gross hours sold during 2022, equating to over three times pre-pandemic levels, and gives great visibility on forward demand owing to three-year client signings.

More and more clients globally are recognising that Vista, across its market-leading VistaJet and XO brands, provides the best value and end-to-end experience, and our expanded team of over 4,000 experts is fully committed to developing the next era of innovative and advanced flying solutions across the globe. We have seen a strong momentum at the start of 2023 which is expected to continue across our dynamic global markets.

AH: How has VistaJet transformed expectations in the charter market?

IM: While private jets are synonymous with luxury and efficiency, chartering a plane is often an unpredictable experience. VistaJet offers a unique product — guaranteeing an aircraft available for its Members anytime and anywhere, with the highest level of service, and a consistent experience on every flight.

While this might be customary in five-star hospitality, nobody in private aviation has ever tried this — as it requires a gargantuan level of coordination to be able to serve from any airport in the world, in as little as 24 hours notice, 365 days a year.

The renowned VistaJet service — from fully enabled business suites to relaxing family spaces, served by Cabin Hosts trained by the British Butler Institute, MedAire, Norland College and Wine & Spirit Education Trust, is unparalleled. It creates the feeling of a home away from home combined with an office in the sky — on every flight.

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While there are thousands of private jets in the market, none of them stands out more than a ‘silver with a red stripe’ VistaJet aircraft. VistaJet just trademarked its iconic aircraft livery design scheme – a unique recognition of the value of the livery as a key component of the brand’s equity.

AH: The recent results announcements by VistaJet have been spectacular. How does that break down by region, as far as the US, Middle East and Europe are concerned?

IM: The strong performance in 2022 reflects yet another year of record-breaking flying across all core markets. This is despite a series of macroeconomic events. The total growth in fight numbers increased globally by 28% YOY. Regionally, the US saw a 41% increase in the number of flights during 2022, with Asia, Europe and the Middle East up 69%, 29%

and 22% respectively. New York became the number one location for the number of flights during the year, followed by London and Paris. Dubai was the most frequented location in the Middle East.

Aviation is a major contributor to global economic prosperity: unlocking trade, investment, and understanding between cultures. Private aviation specifically has seen unprecedented growth since the pandemic, as travel continues to be a necessity for companies to provide business acceleration and continuity via point-to-point connections.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure economic growth and environmental stewardship go hand in hand. Vista is making every effort to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. That’s why in 2021, after years of research, VistaJet committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 — a pledge to serve as a blueprint for all Vista companies.

The biggest challenge, which is a positive in our eyes, is reiterating our carbon neutrality commitment to a greener future for our industry and clients. The political landscape is very delicate surrounding private aviation, particularly within Europe, and the industry is being challenged on all fronts to act more sustainably.

“ Vista is making every effort to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. That’s why in 2021, after years of research, VistaJet committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 — a pledge to serve as a blueprint for all Vista companies.”
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VistaJet continues to actively seek and invest in new developments that are in line with the latest available science, to help push beyond the current limitations to further reduce GHG footprint — to become the first carbon-neutral business aviation operating company by 2025. Following years of research, and working with clients, the industry and regulatory bodies, VistaJet already has:

• Certified Carbon Offset Program for customers globally. Over 85% of VistaJet Members have opted in

• Provided global Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Program for every client around the world, as demonstrated by its agreement with AEG Fuels to purchase SAF produced by OMV at Vienna International Airport

• Continues to advocate externally for the widespread adoption of SAF in the industry

We provide the most technologically advanced aircraft:

• 18 Global 7500 aircraft — the only aircraft with an Environmental Product Declaration

• High-speed transonic wings cut down on drag, reducing fuel burn and emissions

• Fuel Consumption Reduction Technology

• Reduction of 8% due to ongoing investment in AI

• Fuel Efficient Booking System

• Partnering with Leaders in Sustainability

• Sustainable In-Flight Products

• 90% of single-use on-board items have been replaced with sustainable alternatives

• Moving to Renewable Electricity On-the-Ground

• Annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting report

• Annual Climate Risk report, in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) |BAM

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New Directions

Eric Lewin, the CEO of AIC Global Solutions, talks with Anthony Harrington about how the service has grown internationally

AH: Eric, for those who do not know it, what is it that this enhanced platform brings to the party, and how did you adapt it from the system developed and used so successfully by AIC Title Service?

EL: The aircraft market remains our core business, and both there and elsewhere AIC Global Solutions has become a catalyst for problem-solving.

AIC Global Solutions is a closing company that expands both geographically and substantively the technology provided through the Aircraft Closing Room. Crossborder transactions require flexibility that is typically not required in US domestic transactions.

“ I have worked with Clay Healey to add the features necessary to make their technology platform suitable for transactions in the non-US market.”

I have worked with Clay Healey to add the features necessary to make their technology platform suitable for transactions in the non-US market.

To build AIC Global Solutions, we had to take the backend of Clay’s system and adapt it to accommodate the

broader spectrum of possibilities that a cross-border transaction can raise.

We then had to marry the back-end to a front-end more suited to multi-jurisdictional transactions with a broader range of counterparties.


That foundation has allowed us to push the envelope to respond to market demand for other, non-aircraft related, big-ticket deals, from yachts to real estate as well as intragroup transactions that support projects.

AIC Global Solutions has evolved to support transactions that are germane to value creation.

In this respect, we have worked with multinationals to structure closing solutions for them. The anticipated benefits of using our platform include increased business generation along with a corresponding increase in employment. This work is very rewarding.

AH: What is your relationship now with Clay Healey and AIC Title Service?

EL: Clay Healey, the owner of AIC Title Service, really did modernise the entire aircraft title business. He built a backend system that plugged directly into the FAA and that could complete transactions quickly and efficiently.

If Clay is the visionary who had the dream and the know-how and resources to make his dream a reality, I’m the person

who understands the vision and has the skills and abilities to expand it. Clay knew that, and that is why he asked me to partner with him.

I’ve spent my entire career doing cross-border transactions, and I’ve been both a lawyer and a banker. I speak two languages, and I’m admitted to practice law in three jurisdictions. In addition to these accomplishments, I am proud of my practicality.

AIC Global Solutions is highly practical. During the past few years, I’ve worked with Clay and his team to build AIC Global Solution into a holistic closing solution. The platform is now transaction-agnostic. It digests transactions into parties and logistics, and it records deliverables and the audit trail attached

“ Clay Healey, the owner of AIC Title Service, really did modernise the entire aircraft title business.”

to their completion. We adapted the back-end, and we tied it into a front-end that accommodates a transaction’s unique features while giving our users transparency and control.

Part of what makes our system the best in the market is that we give our users options, and we are responsive to their needs. There is always an opportunity to improve, and we enjoy problem-solving.

Making people’s lives better is what drives Clay and me, and it makes us happy to know that our platform does that directly and tangibly.

Personally, it is great to be able to use the skills that I have worked very hard to develop over many years, to be the architect of solutions that resolve complex problems.

Diversity, creativity, lateral thinking, and openness form essential components of our DNA. Who would have guessed that a cowboy and a surfer would be so effective together?

AH: What kind of feedback are you getting from users?

EL: We repeatedly hear from users that they love our creativity and responsiveness along with the transparency and control they experience.

AH: How satisfying have you found it to be involved in taking the expanded technology platform to market outside the USA?

EL: It has been hugely satisfying. The original platform was already outstanding, and it is no exaggeration to say that we have now expanded the system to the point where we can very directly contribute to economic growth. |



wave in broadband

AH: Sergio, a lot has been happening with your product offerings. Can you bring us up to speed?

SA: We are expecting our 5th generation chipsets to be coming through shortly. Qualcomm had some production issues which set us back, and that was unfortunate and delayed the launch of our Gogo 5G systems. However, prior to the issue with the chip, we certified the LRU and the antenna and we are now shipping the systems to dealers who are actively installing the full 5G provisions.

So, for owners who want the provisions, they can choose whatever time slots are convenient for them to install the multi-band antenna and 5G LRU to become 5th generation ready. And if you have a jet going into an MRO shop for a maintenance event, you can take advantage of that downtime to install the equipment now. We are seeing a number of customers taking advantage of this opportunity.

GOGO GLOBAL BROADBAND announcement at EBACE 2022


1 LRU (any AVANCE system) fuselage mounted antenna

On the marketing side, we now have well over 100 customers signed up for our promotional introduction of the 5G product. In other words, we are really pleased with the momentum so far. Our 5G network is deployed nationwide across the USA and we are now involved in expanding 5G into Canada. We will be deploying around 20 cell sites, which will give us complete coverage of all the major aircraft tracks across North America.

AH: It sounds as if you have had a great response so far. SA: Many of our customers like using our Air-to-Ground (AtG) network when they are doing the Arctic crossing to


2 LRUs, 2 antennas

Europe. We have already extended their coverage using our AtG network for an additional hour when they are making this crossing. After that, they reach the edge of the AtG network and have to transition to satellite coverage, which, of course, we will provide when we launch our new global low-Earthorbit (LEO) broadband service, which is progressing nicely.

AH: How well is Gogo doing outside of North America?

SA: Our global broadband offering was announced at EBACE 2022, and that service, along with Gogo 5G, are our two high performance pillars for addressing all

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the broadband connectivity needs of our aircraft owners worldwide. Both of these, the global broadband offering and our 5G offering are easy upgrades to the Avance system and we designed it that way. We are getting our international dealers prepared so that they can start quoting on the Gogo global LEO service. We already have a very active sales group selling satellite broadband systems on VVIP and Head of State aircraft and big charter jets. We utilise a 2Ku satellite system for this that is very similar to the systems you would see on a commercial airliner.

So, we are selling and supporting 2Ku satellite broadband and getting everyone ready for our new global broadband offering. For that service we are partnering with OneWeb, utilising their LEO satellite network, and with Hughes for the antennae. Gogo’s global solution is unique in that our system has been design to fit on everything from turboprop aircraft to big jets. No other provider can say that today.

OneWeb recently completed its LEO constellation of 648 satellites And is expected to enter into commercial service for aviation by early next year. Once that happens, we will start flight-testing with expected service launch as soon as we have completed certification in the second half of 2024.

Like I said before, one of the unique things about this product offering is the small antenna. Right now, less than 30 percent of the worldwide fleet of business aircraft have true broadband connectivity. With our portfolio of ATG and

global LEO products, we believe we can capture 50 percent of the global fleet by the end of the decade.

AH: So this is a step on the road?

SA: Absolutely. We started this journey seven years ago. Our Avance platform was very deliberately conceived to support a portfolio of products and services that could address every aspect of business aviation’s communications needs, wherever the aircraft is in the world – and regardless of the size of the aircraft.

AH: What’s the morale like inside Gogo as you prepare for the launch of your 5G and Global Broadband services?

SA: It’s tremendous. I work on the ‘four Fs’ principle. As a company, we are 100 percent focused on business aviation. The 2nd F is, we are fully funded. We do not have to go around asking third parties to fund our ideas. The 3rd F is, we are fully staffed. We’ve filled all our open positions and we have a great team. Last but not least, we aim to make this a fun company to work for, and if you ask our staff, that is what you will hear from them. We have the right portfolio of products and the right staff, plus we are having fun. That is a great recipe for success.

AH: What do you make of the technological advances that we are seeing all around us?

SA: It’s a fun time to be in the inflight connectivity and entertainment (IFEC) business. The rapid advance of


technology has not always been welcomed by the aviation community. This is an industry where safety is vital and new technology and new ideas have to be rigorously tested and approved. Historically that’s created a lag in new technology being deployed.

Gogo changed all of that with the AVANCE platform. You no longer have to do a ‘rip and replace’ to update your systems when you invest in Gogo. We enable the customer to upgrade at a much lower price point than would traditionally have been the case, and with less downtime for the aircraft. This means that owners can follow the technology trajectory at the pace they want.

AH: What are you seeing in terms of utilisation?

SA: We monitor megabytes per hour across all users. This removes variables such as the size of the aircraft and how frequently the aircraft is flying. What the statistics show is that utilisation is continuing to grow at around 25

“ What the statistics show is that utilisation is continuing to g row at around 25 percent a year, year over year. This is the justification for our investments into our 5G and Global Broadband services.”

percent a year, year over year. This is the justification for our investments into our 5G and Global Broadband services. We want to ensure that we continue to be the customer’s first choice as their inflight connectivity provider.

AH: What has business been like post the pandemic?

SA: From a sales and marketing perspective we are already at a much higher level of business than we were immediately before the pandemic, so from that standpoint there has been a complete recovery and things have moved on from there. All the metrics we track, including installations, data utilisation and units online, show that we are seeing considerably higher levels of utilisation and uptake. However, that said, the upward curve has now stabilised and we are not seeing the same rates of growth in 2023 that we saw from 2021 to 2022.

AH: How optimistic are you about the global economy going forward?

SA: Things seem to be going back to a more normal state.


Some people in the industry are starting to feel a sense of uncertainty regarding the global economy generally, but all of our metrics are still very healthy. Gogo is fortunate to have a large subscriber base that provides us with a lot of stability during normal business cycles.

AH: How well does being strongly vertically integrated play for you?

SA: In addition to having a very talented team, being

vertically integrated really is one of the keys to our success. Having our own sales and customer support teams has made a big difference over the years. Our sales organisation is divided into very specific market segments, such as flight departments, large fleets, OEMS and so on. These are all very different types of customers sales so you need the expertise in the sales and customer support teams to address these differences. We have a very successful sales team with both a domestic and a global reach. |BAM


Better together

Andy Priester, Chairman and CEO of Priester Aviation and Mayo Aviation, on the success of the merger of the two companies

Q: Andy, how are things going with the acquisition?

AP: It has been a tremendous success for both of us. The acquisition brought a great group of professionals to us and the cultural alignment is fantastic. We’re running the two brands in tandem rather than merging the Mayo brand into the Priester brand, because Mayo has great respect among the owners, customers, and suppliers, just as Priester does with our stakeholders.

Mayo also has a tremendous legacy. You will remember that we celebrated our 75th Anniversary not long ago. It is currently the 78th year for Priester, and Mayo has been in the business aviation game since 1978 and has built up a great 40-year track record. It was founded by Gwendolyn Mayo and has a very similar tradition of providing a family-led service to clients.

Like Priester, Mayo focuses on aircraft management and charter. However, they also bring something new to us in that they have a Part 145 Repair Station and a highly professional

“ We’re running the two brands in tandem rather than merging the Mayo brand into the Priester brand, because Mayo has great respect among the owners, customers, and suppliers, just as Priester does with our stakeholders.”


For more than 30 years, Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), has been the independent provider of maintenance support and financial tools to the business aviation industry. With 5,500+ aircraft supported by maintenance programs and software platforms, JSSI leverages this wealth of data and purchasing power to drive cost savings and provide custom solutions that align to the interests of each client, regardless of make or model.

maintenance team of skilled technicians. They also have a unique service that they provide in that they have worked with Flight for Life Colorado in Denver, Colorado for over 40 years. This provides aeromedical emergency flights conveying critically ill patients to various medical facilities in the Rocky Mountain West and beyond. They have been doing that virtually from day one.

Q: What are you looking for in the mid to long-term from the acquisition?

AP: From the time I took over Priester from my father in 2021, it was clear to me that the key to future success was for us to focus intensively on building relationships in three core areas, with our clients, with our staff and with our partners. If we concentrate on these core relationships, success is sure to follow. Mayo has the same approach and we have already shown that it works.

With Mayo, we gain an additional 65 skilled professionals, including flight-ops staff, administration and finance professionals, and the entire maintenance team.”

With Mayo, we gain an additional 65 skilled professionals, including flight-ops staff, administration and finance professionals, and the entire maintenance team. We completed that transition by the end of October last year, so for the last six months we have been building collaborative avenues, exploring how our two organisations can become better together.

We are figuring out how to co-brand the two organisations to help clients see what the bigger family means to them. Already we can offer more cost-effective fuel purchasing and stronger maintenance and training. Then too, when our traditional Priester aircraft customers fly to Aspen, for example, they will have a personalised greeting service, and the same is true of when they fly to Denver.

Similarly, when Mayo aircraft come to Chicago, we provide the same family service and feel that they are accustomed


to. Also, our sales teams are now in a position to explain the value that the larger organisation can bring to potential customers. People like the larger feel when it is allied to the same strong family brand of service.

Q: So you have a numb er of unique advantages to offer now?

AP: We are the largest and oldest family-owned management and charter company in the world. There are a number of great companies out there that are owned by private equity firms, and they do a good job. But the fact that we are family-owned makes a huge difference. We approach client relationships from a different place, and it is all about ensuring that our clients and team members form a strong family relationship. The decisions we make to serve our clients are held within our teams. We have the luxury of answering only to our clients.

Q: You have also grown your management team recently. How has that helped you?

AP: This is another area where I have been super fortunate. I realised early on after buying the company from my father that I would not be able to grow the company as I wanted if I

continued to have to spend around 80 percent of my time in an operational capacity. So, in February last year, I brought on Rich Ropp as President of Priester Aviation.

He has a tremendous history in business aviation and is doing a really great job. He has freed me up so that I can focus on strategy and the key themes that matter for our mid to long-term future. Similarly, Brent Moldowan has been running Mayo for the last five years as President and has a deep understanding of the business.

We have long had a really talented team at Priester but we needed a really strong senior figure and Ropp gives us that while freeing me up to lead us to new opportunities in the future.

Of course, there is no way that I am out of the picture. All our owners still have my telephone number. Our family name is on the building, and as I’ve said, I believe that is a key part of what makes us different. But owners know that if they need special help or have something important that they want to share, I will always take the call. These days, of course, I can now follow up on that call with Rich or Brent, and that takes some of the pressure off.

“ There are a number of great companies out there that are owned by private equity firms, and they do a good job. But the fact that we are family-owned makes a huge difference.”


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Q: What is the strategy going forward?

AP: We are currently at around 80 aircraft under management. I really do not want us to get any bigger than, say, 130 to 150 aircraft under management. That would be a very good size for the kind of family-run business that we are. There is no way we could manage 400 aircraft and still deliver the extremely high levels of service and family values that we promise our clients. In my opinion, organisations just do not have the bandwidth if they have that number of aircraft, to still have all the owners feel connected to the top management of the business.

Q: There is quite a bit of talk these days about a possible slowdown or even a global recession. How do you see things progressing?

AP: I don’t think we are heading for the kind of dropping off of a cliff edge that we saw in 2008. However, I can

already see signs of a slowdown from a charter and aircraft acquisition perspective. To me, some of the new charter business that found its way to business aviation during the pandemic is now going away. Not all of it, but some of it.

For our own part, we have never had a more robust pipeline in the aircraft management business than we are enjoying right now. I put that down to two things. One is the real strength that still exists in the market and the other is considerably greater visibility, in the general market, as to the advantages that Priester and Mayo can offer as a combined group.

Every week we are getting three to six new, strong aircraft management leads. Some of those are not the right fit for us, but a lot of them are, and that is tremendous for us. Our sales teams are doing a really good job and I couldn’t be happier with where we are headed. |BAM


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Technical breakthroughs

Gentex Chief Technology Officer, Neil Boehm, talks to BAM about the company’s breakthrough technologies for

aerospace and business aviation


Gentex is first and foremost a technology company, proficient in a wide range of core competencies that yield a unique fusion of technologies. The company is a long-time supplier of electro-optical technologies. It currently develops and manufactures custom, high-tech electronic products for the automotive, aerospace, and commercial fire protection industries, with growing competency in the medical field.

Within automotive, Gentex supplies nearly every major automaker with connected-car technologies and advanced electronic features that optimise driver vision and enhance driving safety. It’s best known for inventing the automaticdimming rearview mirror, an active safety feature that

combines sensors, chemistry, and algorithmic decisionmaking to detect and eliminate dangerous rearview mirror glare. Today, Gentex ships over 44 million dimmable devices annually; however, its innovation doesn’t stop there.


Within aerospace, the company is best known for supplying aircraft manufacturers with electronically dimmable windows that darken on demand to cut sunlight while still providing an exterior view. They improve the flying experience, aircraft design flexibility, and enable airlines to give their customers and crew more control over the view out of their windows.

New to the Gentex aerospace portfolio is a unique glass laminating technology that yields durable, lightweight, ultrathin glass laminates engineered for aircraft cabin partitions, mirrors, and wood veneer applications. The company is also

raising the in-flight experience with concept technologies, helping to drive innovation and improve the performance of the aviation industry, making air travel safer, more comfortable, and more efficient for passengers and crew members alike. Some of these technologies include biometric authentication, which allows for a personalised in-flight experience, and intelligent aircraft cabin lighting, providing light when and where it’s needed. Additionally, comprehensive environmental sensing units monitor cabin air quality for increased safety during the boarding process and during air travel.

Q: In 2019 at EBACE, I think Gentex showed its first solution for dimmable windows in business aviation aircraft with curved rather than flat windows. How is that progressing?

NB: The tech is ready to go; however, like many new technologies, their market introduction is taking longer than


we’d like due to the impact of COVID, inflation, supply chain concerns, and other headwind factors affecting the aerospace industry. Luckily, we also operate in the automotive industry, where demand for dimmable products continues to be high, allowing us to continue making technological advances in glass and film-based dimming technologies. Short answer -we’re ready to produce curved aircraft windows, but we need our aerospace customers to ramp back up.

Q: Gentex has several unique technologies across all the markets you address, including automotive and aerospace, any new introductions from that portfolio into business aviation?

NB: Yes. Gentex is advancing many of our technologies originally developed for automotive applications into the aerospace industry. At our core, we’re a technology company and long-time supplier of electro-optical products for the global automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries. We supply nearly every automaker around the globe with vision, dimmable glass, sensing, and connectedcar technologies that optimise driver vision while enhancing driving safety and comfort. But for over a decade, we’ve also been shipping electronically dimmable windows for aircraft, which launched our presence in aerospace.

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show, our aerospace customers were able to experience emerging Gentex technologies in new and exciting ways via an all-new aircraft fuselage simulator. This allowed show attendees to experience first-hand the benefits of our technology right on the show floor. Our aircraft mockup featured fully functioning

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show, our aerospace customers were able to experience emerging Gentex technologies in new and exciting ways via an all-new aircraft fuselage simulator. This allowed show attendees to experience first-hand the benefits of our technology right on the show floor.”

dimmable windows and cabin partitions; passenger smartlighting that automatically optimises illumination for various in-flight activities like reading, dining, or computer work; biometric systems for personalising the in-flight experience; and in-cabin particulate and chemical sensors for monitoring cabin air quality.

Q: What of your cabin safety and air quality sensors, how far have you progressed towards introducing these technologies into business aviation?

NB: We’re making significant progress on the sensor capability side, but it’s been difficult to engage our aerospace customers given the industry downturn. We continue to aggressively develop sensing units that use a variety of methods to detect smoke, vape, VOCs, biohazards, incendiary components, and other airborne contaminants.

Gentex’s emerging sensing technologies stem from our experience in fire protection, an industry in which we have operated for nearly 50 years. Gentex pioneered the world’s



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first dual-sensor photoelectric smoke detector, a device less prone to false alarms yet quick to detect slow, smouldering fires. Today, millions of Gentex smoke detectors and signalling devices can be found in hospitals, hotels, office buildings and other commercial properties around the world.

Since then, we’ve developed and acquired additional sensing technologies, including nano-fibre digital olfaction, which can be used to identify various airborne chemicals and contaminants.

Q: What of the combined lighting and sensor technologies that Gentex has? How is that going as far as bizav is concerned?

NB: Gentex was the first company in the automotive industry to use machine vision to optimise lighting and automatically control vehicle high beams. We’ve since transformed that technology for other industries, including medical, where we’re developing smart lighting systems that utilise camera systems to optimise illumination in the surgical suite of the future.

For aircraft, we’re developing overhead lighting systems that use machine vision and software to provide dynamic, taskspecific illumination for the cabin crew and passengers alike. We have a functioning prototype of passenger task lighting modules that can optimise lighting for different in-flight activities such as reading, eating, or working on a computer.

For instance, when a passenger is reading, the system automatically recognises the book or magazine and projects

a spotlight that follows the reading material as the passenger moves or adjusts. The system can even detect when the passenger is eating and change the colour temperature of the lighting to a warm glow in order to improve dining ambience. When working on a laptop, the system generates a cooler, softer glow for enhancing computer work.

Q: When we last talked, Gentex was close to introducing a biometric scanner, how is that going?

NB: Years ago, we started demonstrating an iris-based biometric system, but it was probably ahead of its time. Today, camera technology has caught up to the system needs, so it is looking more promising. In automotive, we’re currently working on rearview-mirror-based biometrics systems that use a combination of technologies -- simple facial recognition for driver identification and iris recognition for in-vehicle transactions. We’re now demonstrating these dual systems for aerospace.

Imagine walking on board the aircraft and having the plane recognise you, personalising the in-flight experience. A secondary, more secure iris-based system would be used should you desire access to personal entertainment accounts or engage in transactions while on board.

Q: What about future projects?

NB: We continue to advance our dimmable glass. Today, we’re showing large dimmable panels that can act as privacy screens or partitions. They’re not only capable of darkening on demand but also changing colour, allowing the passenger and crew greater control over the in-flight experience. |BAM

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Setting a high bar

Steve Chandoha, Meridian President, on the company’s two FBOs being named among the top FBOs in North America

Q: Steve, can you give us a bit of background on Meridian?

SC: Meridian is an award-winning, private aviation company with FBO locations at Teterboro Airport (KTEB) near New York City and Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD) near San Francisco. Meridian also offers aircraft detailing, cleaning and decontamination services at its Teterboro facility.




[tek-neek uh-vahnt-gahrd] noun


As far as background, we should start with the fact that Teterboro Airport, which is just 10 miles from mid-town Manhattan, is the oldest operating airport in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, having begun operations in 1919.

Meridian celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021. The company traces its roots to 1946, when Ken Forester, Sr., the father of our current CEO, began retrofitting WWII airplanes for use as business aircraft. In 1986, we joined the Million Air FBO franchise. We left the franchise in 2006 and became independent. We had built a strong aircraft management and charter business and had a growing MRO capability so strategically, it made sense. There are five FBOs in all at Teterboro, so the competition is fierce, and we have always been ranked very highly. We are the only independently owned FBO at Teterboro.

In July 2015, we broke ground at Hayward Executive Airport on a 6,300 square foot terminal, including support offices,

an adjacent 30,000 square foot hangar, and 3.5 acres of ramp space. In October 2016, we officially opened our new west coast FBO for business.

Future expansion plans include a new hangar, an increase in the size of the terminal and additional ramp space.

In July 2020, Meridian sold its aircraft management and charter business to Jet Linx. This was a strategic decision, allowing us to focus exclusively on our core FBO business. Meridian is dedicated to providing the highest possible standards of service at our two locations.

Q: What can you tell us about the results of this year’s industry surveys?

SC: We are very pleased to again be recognised among the nation’s top Fixed Base Operators (FBO) in two of the industry’s leading surveys.

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In the Aviation International News (AIN) annual FBO survey, Meridian Teterboro was again ranked #1 in the Northeast Region, as well as named the top FBO in the New York City metro area and at Teterboro Airport. Meridian Teterboro was voted among the Top 10% of FBOs in the Americas.

Meridian Hayward was voted the #1 FBO at Hayward Executive Airport by AIN readers, ranked in the Top 3 FBOs in the San Francisco/Oakland area and among the Top 5 in the West Region. Meridian Hayward was voted among the Top 20% of FBOs in the Americas.

The AIN survey also recognises those individual FBO employees who go “Above and Beyond” in providing outstanding customer service. Two of Meridian’s team members were honoured this year. Betsy Wines, Vice President of Customer Service & Human Resources at Meridian Teterboro, and Carlos Rodriguez, General Manager of Meridian Hayward, were both recognised for their dedication and commitment to excellence.

In the Professional Pilot (ProPilot) annual PRASE survey, Meridian was rated the #1 FBO at Teterboro Airport and voted the #6 Best Independent FBO in the country. Meridian was also ranked #12 among all US FBOs.

Q: What else would you like to share with us about Meridian?

SC: In addition to the recognition that we have received for customer service, both Meridian facilities have been recognised for achieving some of the highest safety standards in the industry. Meridian Teterboro and Meridian Hayward are both CAA Preferred FBOs at their respective airports, ISBAH Stage II certified, NATA Safety 1st and NATA Safety 1st Clean approved. In addition, Meridian Teterboro is an accredited GBAC STAR™ Facility.

We are dedicated to providing exceptional service at both our Teterboro and Hayward locations, and sincerely thank our customers for their continued support. Meridian has a proud legacy of always putting the customer first, and we look forward to carrying that legacy of service into the future. |BAM

Betsy Wines Meridian Teterboro Carlos Rodriguez
Meridian Hayward
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A worldwide service

In 1979 I graduated and at 19 I started a van transportation company for rock bands and other groups. I had some really interesting contracts back then. The Rolling Stones were one of my clients.”

AH: John, how did it all begin?

JV: We launched the company in 1984. However, going back way before that, when I was 13 my father said, “Son, get in the car. I’ve got something to show you.”

This was an era where it didn’t cross your mind to disobey your parents. I got in our station wagon and he drove to the taxi service he ran. “Today you start to learn how to service and clean these vehicles,” he said.

I was handed a broom, which was the leading-edge technology of the day, and told where to sweep and where to clean. As time went on, throughout my high school days, I learned a lot about being a car mechanic. I got to fix stuff and to carry out fleet maintenance and repairs. Later, when I went to college, I learned about business management.

In 1979 I graduated and at 19 I started a van transportation company for rock bands and other groups. I had some really interesting contracts back then. The Rolling Stones were one of my clients. Then I started signing contracts with Fortune 500 companies and we added handicap transport to our portfolio, transporting people with restricted movement, folks in wheelchairs and so on, the frail and the elderly.

Then, in the 1980s we shifted into luxury transport. This was the era of the high-roller. These folks expect the best and the vehicles they expected are not cheap. However, in the 1980s, luxury transport started somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. An SUV back then was $30,000. Today, a similar vehicle costs $120,000. So, everything is three times more expensive than it was then. I dream about getting luxury cars for that price today!



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In the 1980s, luxury transport started somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. An SUV back then was $30,000. Today, a similar vehicle costs $120,000.”

AH: So that got you well started. How did you get a worldwide reach?

JV: I was 22 when I started Limousines Worldwide. We were doing exceptionally well, then we had the first Iraq War. Travel ground to a halt and I got smashed. At the time I was on track to do $200,000 to $225,000 a week in my business when everything just stopped. We got going again and then we had September 11th, and we had to build up again from that.

I got tired of the pricing pressures from providing ground transportation services to the Fortune 500. In 2011 and 2012 I went to NBAA and won two serious contracts at the show, namely Vista Jet and Landmark Aviation, where we were appointed to provide ground transportation to all their FBOs.

My son and I had some great successes writing business and we saw some dramatic growth. We are doing really well again post-Covid. We did some $13 million in sales in 2022 and we are on track to do even better in 2023. However, I have to

say that Covid itself, and the global lockdowns, damn near took the shirt off my back.

So, I went broke in the 1990s, broke again in 2001 and 2010 and pretty much went broke again in 2020. By April 2020, around 95 percent of our business had vanished and we had all our drivers and staff to pay. However, we hunkered down, made changes and became profitable again in only a few months, on a very reduced level of sales. This is all down to understanding how to run a profitable business. You really do need to know what you are doing and where your costs and revenues are coming from.

AH: What has enabled you to recover so quickly from very significant setbacks?

JV: The central reason why we have been able to grow rapidly as soon as the markets have regained a little traction is that people love our business model. Our company is comprised of aviation professionals. They understand business aviation and they know what they are talking about

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when clients call up. Our people all have somewhere between 10 and 25 years of experience serving business aviation.

My goal is always to be a gentleman entrepreneur, someone who is very caring about his clients and about his business. I am always approachable and my drivers know that they carry the reputation of the business on their shoulders. They make sure that the clients have the best experience possible as they go from A to B.

AH: How do you manage to cover transportation requirements across so many cities around the world?

JV: It is very simple. If you have just one flight a month coming into an airport in Goose Bay, Canada, you are not going to build an FBO there. If you are sensible, you are going to look to partner with someone who does have a reliable presence there. This is the approach we take.

We provide ground transportation in over 1,000 cities around the world. In some of those cities, we cater for hundreds of trips a year. In others, say the Seychelles, for example, we might only do a couple of trips. So, we partner with local providers that I have gone to great lengths to know personally. We ensure that they have the same cultural ethos as ourselves and can uphold our reputation.

We have a real rapport with our partners and we have a daily relationship. They are not just a file and a number on a computer. We are vetting them and checking on them constantly, and we get great feedback from our clients who use our partner services.

AH: How do you feel about things going forward?

JV: Without question, the US has the biggest aviation market in the world, particularly if you extend it to North America as a whole. Most of Canada lives within 100 miles of the US border and there are some really great Canadian operators, all of whom we deal with.

The number two world market is Europe, but it is by no stretch a close second to NA. We have a continent that stretches for over 5,000 miles north to south and much the same, east to west. It covers around 9.35 million square miles. People have to fly to get business done.

During Covid, people turned to budget cars, but after Covid they went back to limousine travel and the aviation companies returned to providing high quality limousine travel as well. So, we were able to grow again, and we are still growing. Many of my drivers have been with me for decades. They range in age from 40 to 70 and they come from a culture where, if you were not excellent, you didn’t have a job. So we provide a great service and we get repeat business. For me, that is the future. |BAM

“ Our company is comprised of aviation professionals. They understand business aviation and they know what they are talking about when clients call up.”



A legacy of innovation

Avfuel’s Craig Sincock, President and CEO, Joel Hirst, Senior VP Sales, and C.R. Sincock, II, Executive Vice President, on the company’s successes and future direction as Avfuel marks its 50th Anniversary this year

Q: 2023 is a big year for Avfuel—can you tell us more about that?

JOEL HIRST – Senior Vice President Sales: 2023 marks Avfuel’s 50th anniversary. In celebration, we’ve planned for a year-long salute to the customers and partners who helped us on our journey. We wouldn’t be here without their ideas, and their enthusiasm for the brand and the work we are doing.

To us, 2023 is more than a milestone—it is a celebration of Avfuel’s evolution. We’ll reflect on where Avfuel came from and where it can go from here. Together, we’ll envision how Avfuel can continue to be on the cutting edge of aviation services.

We pride ourselves in upholding a legacy of innovation. The best way to commemorate 50 years of business will be to use Avfuel’s story to motivate our team and usher in the next generation of aviation.

Joel Hirst


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Q: Can you give us a quick recap of the Avfuel story?

CRAIG SINCOCK - President and CEO: Avfuel began as a regional fuel supplier, mainly serving Michigan and some surrounding Midwest states. After 50 years, we evolved into the industry’s first comprehensive supplier of aviation fuel and services, operating on a global scale.

When we leapt onto the market, no one was doing what we set out to do. We asked questions of our customers, listened to their needs and developed solutions to meet those needs. We were the first fuel supplier to offer a complete suite of services that surround the fuel, including: pilot rewards, contract fuel

for corporate flight departments, in-house aviation insurance, trip support, on-demand marketing support, on-demand tax support, in-house 24/7 quality assurance and training, an in-house OEM for refueler trucks, and sustainable solutions, such as sustainable aviation fuel and carbon credits.

Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a fuel supplier that doesn’t offer, say, fuel rewards. It’s become a standard service. The difference is Avfuel is always looking to go beyond standard. We’re constantly looking for new ways to push the envelope— new ways to lead the industry and add value to the fuel supplier partnership. That’s how we not only survived, but thrived for 50 years.

Q: What is your big focus at the moment as a company?

JOEL HIRST: Sustainability continues to be a major focus for Avfuel—both in terms of our company’s sustainability initiatives and the sustainable solutions we provide customers. We continue to focus on expanding the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and supporting the advancement of unleaded avgas.

Beyond sustainability, Avfuel continues to focus on international expansion. In 2022, we welcomed 34 new branded locations and 99 new contract fuel locations—32 of the latter were outside the United States. With a growing sales force, Avfuel plans to continue this growth trajectory throughout 2023.

Craig Sincock
We continue to focus on expanding the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and supporting the advancement of unleaded avgas.”
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Q: What current industry issues is Avfuel working to address?

JOEL HIRST: Of course, Avfuel is working to help solve the unleaded avgas problem along with a host of sustainable solutions. Beyond that, Avfuel sees addressing the workforce challenge and preventing misfueling incidents among the most pressing industry issues near term.

To address the workforce challenge, Avfuel is helping the next generation discover possibilities in aviation by sharing its passion with others. In this regard, Avfuel actively promotes various pathways to the aviation industry at college career fairs, offering a breadth of career options at its headquarters and through its sister company, Avflight, which owns and operates a network of FBOs across North America and Europe. This is in addition to offering internships, and supporting FBOs with their airport days and high school programs, which are great ways to promote aviation interest locally. We’re also passionate about supporting aviators with scholarship opportunities, helping to fund their entry into the industry or continued education goals.

Furthermore, and more directly related to our daily mission of safe fuel operations, our quality assurance team is highly focused on misfueling prevention. Our experts frequently

collaborate with industry groups to produce, distribute and communicate training resources and publications, like the Energy Institute’s free public ation: EI Recommended Practice 1597 Procedures for Overwing Fueling to Ensure Delivery of the Correct Grade to an Aircraft. We’d also recommend becoming familiar with the ATA 103 publication and FAA documents specific to preventing DEF contamination. Our team also developed the online Avfuel Training System to educate others on proper fuel handling procedures, as well as avoiding misfueling incidents.

Q: Avfuel will be at EBACE again this year—what do you have planned?

JOEL HIRST : Our booth will again feature a group of our branded FBO partners, some of which include: Avflight, representing a network of 24 FBOs and 20 ground-handling locations; Castle & Cooke Aviation, offering nonstop excellence and nonstop elegance in California and Hawaii; Duncan Aviation, known for its outstanding MRO and FBO services; Fargo Jet Center, which offers a perfect U.S. entry point along the great circle route; and Overland Aviation, featuring a beautiful, new facility for U.S. entry.

Avfuel looks forward to hosting attendees at its in-booth cocktail event on Wednesday, May 24.



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C.R. Sincock, II

In another 50 years, will we be a fuel company? Perhaps. Or perhaps, more likely, we’ll be an energy company, providing solutions for electric, SAF and hydrogen power sources.”

Q: What are you hoping to get out of the show?

JOEL HIRST : We look forward to sharing our sustainability progress with an international audience, as well as sharing how the breadth of the Avfuel Network can work for operators. With more than 3,000 fueling locations globally, Avfuel is on hand to assist operators wherever their journey takes them. As a leader in sustainable solutions, providing SAF, book and claim, and carbon offsetting, we’re ready to help operators fly and fuel as sustainably as possible.

In addition to Avfuel’s core programs—like Avfuel Contract Fuel, FBO branding and insurance—the team will also highlight some of its newer programs, like price risk management, which provides customers with certainty in fuel price so they can budget with confidence.

Q: What’s next for Avfuel? What makes you most excited?

C.R. SINCOCK, II - Executive Vice President: While we don’t have a crystal ball, we have experts on hand dedicated to analyzing the market. As such, we’re constantly keeping our finger on the pulse of, and even investing in, innovative technologies.

Many of these technologies would require the supply chain to adapt—technologies in sustainability, electrification, eVTOL and air mobility. In another 50 years, will we be a fuel company? Perhaps. Or perhaps, more likely, we’ll be an energy company, providing solutions for electric, SAF and hydrogen power sources. Whatever Avfuel will be, it will exist to serve its customers. We will continue to listen, evolve and lead. That’s where a legacy of innovation will take you. |

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Painting the future

Marie MarschnerScott SeversonJulie Voisin

Marie Marschner, Director of Sales Administration at Pilatus, and Scott Severson, Director of Paint Operations, along with Julie Voisin, Market Segment Manager, Aerospace & OEM Automotive Interiors at Sherwin-Williams, discusses the collaboration between the two companies

Q: When did the collaboration between Pilatus and Sherwin-Williams begin, and how are things progressing?

Marie Marschner: All our Pilatus aircraft delivered in North and South America are painted in our Broomfield Colorado state-ofthe-art paint facility, which is part of our North

American Completions Center. We opened the paint facility in July 2022 in response to the growing demand for PC-24 and PC-12 NGX aircraft in the region.

The facility is at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport and hosted a successful, milestone ribbon-cutting ceremony at the official grand opening in July.


For the past 20 years or so, prior to opening our Colorado paint facility, we partnered with various completions centers, and then primarily with West Star Aviation, when it came to aircraft paint finishing. Now we have our own paint facility where we paint the vast majority of Pilatus aircraft which deliver in North and South America.

“Now we have our own paint facility where we paint the vast majority of Pilatus aircraft which deliver in North and South America.”
Marie Marschner

Through the years, we have primarily used Sherwin-Williams paint systems and supplies on our aircraft, regardless of which completions center we partnered with. So it has been a natural progression for us to partner with Sherwin-Williams for our own facility.

They have a great system from both a sales and a customer perspective, with a very wide selection of colours and paint finishes for aircraft.

Julie Voisin: For our part, we worked closely with Pilatus to help them with the right selection of paints for their paint processes and their customer’s preferred designs. Our aim is to help them be as efficient as possible across their paint operations and to help them deliver great finishes for their customers.

Q: How do things progress from the green aircraft that has just been built in your assembly plant?

MM: All the aircraft start with a base coat applied at our factory, located in Stans, Switzerland. Typically, they get a Snow White or Titanium base coat, then the aircraft are ferried to our completions and paint facility here in Broomfield, Colorado. From there, the customer-selected colours and stripe design is applied using a laser-guided projection system.

Q: Are there any definite trends you are seeing in design requests?

MM: Trends come and go, particularly as far as solid colour schemes versus metallic or mica colour schemes are concerned. We are currently getting more requests for designs incorporating at least a degree of metallic or mica paints. Eyecatching designs and vibrant colour selections look great on the ramp and tend to be popular with our owners.

Q: With more than two decades of Pilatus aircraft sales, what are you seeing by way of repaint trends?

JV: What we see from our perspective at SherwinWilliams, is that this tends to be hugely variable. Is the customer looking for their aircraft to be understated or a reflection of their brand image? Where is the aircraft expected to fly? How long do they plan to own the aircraft? These factors all play into the design.

MM: This is true. At the Broomfield Completion Center, we only manage the finishing of new aircraft. However, with a 25-year-old fleet of PC-12s, it is a certainty that many will have been repainted over time. Plus, when an aircraft is sold, the new owner will have his or her own preference about whether or not to maintain the existing exterior design.

Q: How does Pilatus handle the design side of a new project?

MM: We have a partnership with Designworks, A BMW Group Company. Every few years, based on changing industry trends and input from our creative team, they create Pilatus specific designs that offer our customers a range of standard options. When requested, our in-house creative team will also create brilliant and unique designs specific to our customers’ vision.

“For our part, we worked closely with Pilatus to help them with the right selection of paints for their paint processes and their customer’s preferred designs.”
Julie Voisin
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Q: How tough is it to execute some of these designs?

Scott Severson: Transferring a complex paint design from the designer’s creation to the actual aircraft is extremely challenging. The applicators need to have a really good eye. What makes it easier for us is that Pilatus has invested in a laser system that can project the paint design onto the aircraft to within a six-millimetre accuracy.

You have to remember that an aircraft is a three-dimensional object and even though we have a great CAD system, there is still a lot of artistry that goes into the fine details. Every aircraft fuselage has its special areas that even a laser system cannot capture. These areas show up when the aircraft is on the ramp or is doing a fly-by. So, my team analyse all these details before we start work on a new paint project.


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SS: We have quite a few Part 91 and Part 135 operators amongst our customer base. They all tend to want a livery or design that is specific to their operations. Then there is the fact that you have a different perspective when the aircraft is flying to when it is on the ramp, or when it has the cargo door open. You have to model the design on the CAD system so the owner can see it in a variety of modes.

Q: What is the size of the Pilatus fleet these days?

MM: Our fleet consists of many types of operations from private, to charter and large flight departments, fleet and government. Our PC-24 Super-Versatile Jet has been operational for just under five years now, and the 200th

“You have a different perspective when the aircraft is flying to when it is on the ramp, or when it has the cargo door open. You have to model the design on the CAD system so the owner can see it in a variety of modes.”

aircraft will soon be delivered. The PC-12 has been flying since 1994, and the 2,000th unit will be delivered this May.

Q: What is the order book like going forward?

MM: The order book looks very full. While availability varies by dealer and region, for the most part our network is already working on 2025 sales. That is a great pipeline for us, and it is good news too for Sherwin-Williams. |BAM

JV: The exterior design can vary enormously depending on whether the owner is flying privately or is a charter operator, for example.
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Exciting Times in Aviation

AH: Hamish, as the Chairman of the Middle East Chapter of the Explorers Club, you have been involved in some tremendous achievements. We featured your trip to space in a Blue Origin rocket on the cover recently. When we had previously spoken, you were planning to go down in a minisubmarine as part of a team investigating the state of the wreck of the Titanic. That was postponed, was it not?

HH: Yes, this was supposed to take place last year. Unfortunately, on the mission before mine, the submarine was damaged on the surface. The problem they faced was that by the time they surfaced, heavy fog had set in, and they could not dock with the ship. So, the submarine bounced around on the surface all night with the crew still on board and it was damaged against the buoy that it was tethered to.

“ Cheetahs really are the Ferraris of the animal kingdom.”
Boeing 747-400 used for reintroducing the first cheetahs back into India Captain Hamish Harding, Chairman of Action Aviation, talks to Anthony Harrington about his company’s successes and his own recent adventures
Salano O Feature Light +44 1993

I was due to go on the next mission but because of the delay for repairs to the submarine, that conflicted with a planned climb of Mount Kilimanjaro that I undertook with my 15-year-old son Giles, and sixteen of his and my friends, which was also an incredible experience for all of us. However, I am now looking forward to a newly scheduled dive to the Titanic in June this year.

One of our members, Dr Laurie Marker, runs the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia and is one of the world’s preeminent experts on Cheetah conservation. She got in touch to ask me to help on the aviation side of the project to re-introduce the first cheetahs back into India, 75 years after they went extinct.”

AH: How are things going with the Explorer’s Club?

HH: It has been great for me. However, we really need to expand the membership in the Middle East. There are a lot of interesting people in this region doing some very exciting things outside the purview of the Club.

One great conservation project that I was involved in recently did in fact come from the Explorer’s Club. One of our members, Dr Laurie Marker, runs the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia and is one of the world’s preeminent experts on Cheetah conservation. She got in touch to ask me to help on the aviation side of the project to re-introduce the first cheetahs back into India, 75 years after they went extinct.

I got in touch with a friend of mine who owns a private Boeing 747-400 airliner. We flew the cheetahs directly from Namibia into Kuno National Park in India and the release of the cheetahs into the wild was attended by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on his birthday last September. It was a fantastic project to be involved with. Cheetahs really are the Ferraris of the animal kingdom. They are very cool animals indeed.

Mount Kilimanjaro
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AH: Well, to business. How have things been for you through the second half of 2022 and to now?

HH: We have had a surprisingly active year so far in 2023. Every year we seem to feel that the year ahead will probably see business falling off a cliff, and every year we are surprised, and pleased, to be wrong. At the end of 2022, it looked likely that the Americans would generally stop buying in early 2023, and they mostly did. But then the rest of the world has woken up and is sort of saying “thank god the Americans have stopped fuelling those over-inflated prices of late 2022, now we can start buying again!”

So, we are finding that the rest of the world is now jumping in while the Americans try to recover from last year’s extravagances and the higher interest rate world we now find ourselves in. So, we feel the market is back to some sort of medium-term equilibrium. In particular, there are more aircraft coming onto the market now and there are reasonable numbers of most types of aircraft to choose from - not all types of course. But there is also a very strong supply of buyers, often from locations such as Asia (except China which is not generally buying), Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe that did not buy so many jets in the past. Action Aviation has a very good reach into those markets, which I think is one of the reasons we are having a very good year so far in 2023.

AH: Are you still very enthusiastic about BBJs and ACJs?

HH: Absolutely. We operate a BBJ ourselves for our own use. We are actually upgrading to a new BBJ that has two bedrooms and two shower rooms. We will eventually be offering this new BBJ for some charter work and we expect it to be well received.

AH: Is the new aircraft a replacement for your present BBJ or an addition to your fleet?

HH: It is a replacement. We are selling our existing BBJ, and the new one is in pre-purchase inspection. It will be much easier to get it into our own charter certificate under Aruba than our previous BBJ. We could have got our previous BBJ into the public transport category, but it would have taken longer. Instead, we are selling that BBJ to a Head of State client before we receive the new one.

AH: What do you think the charter market is going to be like in the year ahead?

HH: I think the demand will remain strong, perhaps a little down from the peak demand last year. There is strong demand for BBJ and ACJ charters in particular and they are very good to operate. People tend not to realise that, taken as a whole, BBJs and ACJs are really not that expensive to operate compared to other large business jets.

This is because the maintenance on a BBJ and an ACJ is a lot less than a big biz jet, such as a Global or a Gulfstream. The engines go on forever as they are built for airliners. They were designed to do 80,000 hours, which is way more than you would ever do in business aviation. With a typical business jet, you are unlikely to get much past the 15,000hour mark by the end of the life of an aircraft.

Of course, you will use 50 percent more fuel on a BBJ or an ACJ compared to a Gulfstream or Global. That is a wellknown fact, but it is largely outweighed for most users by the lower cost of BBJ/ACJ parts. For example, on a Gulfstream or a Global, if you replaced all four brakes, it would cost you about $360,000. If you replace the four brakes on a BBJ

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or ACJ, it will cost you around $24,000. That is a massive difference. Airlines run on very tight margins, and they put a lot of pressure on the OEMs. Airlines just do not accept paying private jet prices for parts. We also currently own a Global and can see the MRO price differences in stark relief.

Incidentally, this is why we explain to our pilots in our own operation, when operating Gulfstreams, Globals, etc that brakes shouldn’t normally be the primary method of stopping a jet. Some pilots come to business aviation from the airline world, and they are used to stomping on the brakes every landing. That does not work well in business aviation because of these high brake and tyre costs, and operators learn to use the other tools at our disposal - thrust reversers, get the landing speed right, touchdown on the numbers, and use the full runway where possible.

The problem with business aviation MRO is that we all tend to just pay whatever bills turn up from the MRO unquestioningly, and business jet owners get taken advantage of at some of the MRO facilities. It is unfortunate, but this seems to be the norm quite often now, much more so than a few years ago in my opinion, with spare parts prices and labour costs massively up from the business jet OEMs.

AH: Perhaps it is no surprise then that both Gulfstream and Bombardier are putting a lot of effort into expanding their aftermarket sales effort.

HH: Yes, the OEMs see a captive market if they can largely monopolise the MRO for their own types by buying up MRO facilities around the world. I hope prices will not keep rising in future years as a result.

AH: What of your own business? Are you expanding?

HH: Yes. We are expanding, and we have brought a lot of very good people on board, about 10 more since the Covid shutdowns ended.

AH: Is it easy to find talent?

HH: No, it is not easy to find the right people. What we do is quite specialist and we do need dedicated people with great communication and organisational skills. We are not a sort of big, governmental-type operator, with lots of administrative and middle management staff. We are out in the field doing complicated international deals all the time, and individual staff in remote locations may need to oversee all aspects of an aircraft transaction from proposals and contracts, through pre-purchase inspections to entry into service. To be clear, we are very much after more highquality talent right at this moment ….

AH: How many transactions have you closed through the year?

HH: We closed 25 transactions in 2022. These are mostly larger business jets, but we did do a Lear 60 and a PC24. However, our most common aircraft are Challengers, Legacies, Falcons, Gulfstreams, Globals, along with BBJs and ACJs, etc.

This is a feature of some of the regions that we deal in. In the Middle East and Asia, for example, there is less demand for light jets. You tend to run out of range before you get anywhere in these regions!

AH: Anything further?

HH: I have a particular hobby horse that I would like to

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push, concerning the listing services. We all, as brokers and dealers, subscribe to Controller, AvBuyer, GlobalAir and so on. We get leads coming in from them, but the majority of these leads are not very useful, because they may come in on a free email address like Gmail and simply say “Send price and specs”.

You don’t tend to know if the lead comes directly from an actual billionaire buyer who is simply using his private Gmail, which does occasionally happen. We have seen this happen in Asia, for example. Or perhaps more often it is someone without the capability to buy a business jet or even just a student with an interest in aviation. What I would like to campaign for is for these listing services to put a few more questions on the enquiry form.

These can be very simple questions, such as: what aircraft do you operate at the moment, or if you do not operate an aircraft, what aircraft have you been chartering? The listing services need to add a paragraph that makes the point clearly that brokers receive many enquiries, and your enquiry is likely to be prioritised if you provide the following optional information. That way we could really prioritise our team’s responses to the qualified buyers.

If, for example, you get an enquiry on a G650 and you see that they already have a G550 and are looking to upgrade, that client will get a very quick response.

AH: What chance is there of that change happening?

HH: Every chance. We just need to push for it. It’s in everyone’s interest, especially the qualified buyers who often complain later that many brokers do not respond to their enquiries. We all pay a lot of money to these listing services every month. Let’s get that idea going!

AH: Will you be doing more space missions, such as the one we featured in 2022?

HH: In June 2022, we were the last but one Blue Origin mission before the failure of the booster rocket on a payload-only mission in September 2022 (the capsule ejected successfully at 28,000 ft and had astronauts been on board they would have been fine). The Blue Origin space missions will come back to life this year.

I do have a strong desire to go to a space station for a longer duration mission at some stage, either the existing International Space Station (ISS) before it is decommissioned, or the Blue Origin Orbital Re ef space station being designed and developed at present. |BAM

Living Legends of Aviation Awards – Induction of Hamish Harding by Morgan Freeman, Austria, 2022


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