Operating Partners in Business Aviation

Author By Steve Brechter

As a business aviation leader, you undoubtedly have lots on your plate.

Your flight department, typically a non-core business unit of your company, probably runs quite well on its own. But occasionally it needs some extra help.

What happens in such instances? How do you handle those times when your Aviation team needs more resources, expertise or bandwidth than you are able to provide? How do you evaluate the requests and assure that the job gets done effectively and efficiently?

You need an Operating Partner.

In business aviation an operating partner is like a consultant, except for one big difference. A consultant typically arrives, assesses the situation, tells you what needs to be done and leaves. An operating partner helps you do it.

In short, an operating partner provides results. They provide on-demand, surge capacity when your aviation team needs it.

Here are five reasons you should align yourself with a trusted business aviation operating partner.

5 Reasons You Need an Operating Partner

1.  They Work in Partnership with your Aviation Team

An operating partner works directly with your Aviation team. This can be done in a facilitation-based or a project mode, reporting to the Aviation Director, Reporting Executive, or elsewhere within the Aviation organization, depending upon the task to be accomplished. The operating partner may use flight department team members to help complete its work or it may work on its own, depending on the resources available and project scope, but in all instances, they work in complete alignment with department leadership.

They are ‘quietly effective’ and their sole focus is to work in concert with the Aviation team.

2.  They Provide Force Multiplication

Occasionally, the Aviation team is faced with a project that ‘comes down from corporate’ on short notice and has an even shorter lead time to complete.

Your flight department is staffed to accomplish its core mission of executive on-demand air travel.  But it likely does not have the bandwidth to take on large projects, such as IS-BAO registration, a fleet plan, or a zero-based budget.

The solution is an operating partner who can help you complete the work, providing surge capacity and zero disruption to your aviation operation.

If you select carefully, the operating partner is someone your team knows and trusts. The operating partner conveys the message to the team that senior company leadership ‘has your back,’ leaving the team confident they are there in a support mode, with no hidden agenda.

3.  They are Cost-Effective

An operating partner is not a Full-Time Employee (FTE) and is not on your payroll.

An operating partner works on a variable cost basis and you pay only for what you need. When the project is over, the expense ends until the next need arises.

4.  They Allow you to Fulfill Your Role as Leader

A leader basically does three things:

    1. Sets Direction
    2. Breaks Down Barriers, and
    3. Provides Resources

Use of an operating partner allows you to fulfill the third key role of a leader, to provide your team with adequate resources when they need them.

If you’re an Aviation Reporting Executive, you are a Corporate Executive, not a pilot, a maintenance technician or a scheduler. In fact, you are likely not very familiar with most of the acronyms used throughout the aviation department. Your ability to directly contribute is therefore limited.

But you can contribute in a vitally important way that the Aviation team typically cannot, and that’s to make sure they are properly resourced. Use of an operating partner is a cost-effective way to resource the team.

5.  They Bring Specialized Skills

 In addition to helping your aviation team to deliver on short-cycle, time sensitive projects, an operating partner brings skills that are often not resident in the typical flight department.

Today’s Aviation Director is more like a General Manager, not the ‘Super Chief Pilot’ that was more typical in the past. S/he is running an organization with a significantly sized asset base.  Technical skills are in great abundance.

It takes a broad experience base to run a flight department today and not many Aviation leaders come equipped with it all.

Those who have come up through the key aviation department functional areas such as Flight Operations, Maintenance or Scheduling may feel like a fish out of water when asked to speak the language of business or address business issues that have been placed before them.

An operating partner can help the team speak the language of business and develop a solid response to whatever is asked of them in a short period of time.

The Bottom Line

Use of a trusted operating partner is not a weakness, it’s a strength. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. It’s an essential resource to provide to your flight department so that they can develop innovative and creative approaches to today’s myriad of complex business issues.

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