Your most expensive asset needs to be in the right hands


Aircraft Management Services

It is likely that your aircraft is your most expensive personal asset and the one that results in highest productivity. Beneath the layer of obvious productivity gains, lies a complex layer of processes that quietly make the obvious possible. While as an aircraft owner, you need not (and should not) worry about these, it helps to understand what is at stake, so that you select the right partners for your ownership journey.

Aircrafts are highly durable machines that generally outlast a single ownership cycle. It is likely that you will buy a pre-owned aircraft and sell it in the pre-owned market after your ownership phase ends. Professional asset management will ensure that the resale value of your aircraft, which is a significant determinant of your return on it, is preserved. Similarly, while buying an aircraft, a detailed evaluation will help you strike the right deal or help you prepare better for future expenses.

1. Aircraft Acquisition Advisory

1. Understand your needs

Whether its is a factory new aircraft or one in the pre-owned market, your most expensive personal asset has to be compatible with your mission characteristics. Seating, range, runway capabilities, OEM support in India, dispatch reliability and availability of engineers, pilots and spare parts play a crucial role in ensuring that aircraft ownership is a fuss free journey. Shortlisting aircraft is best done as a consultative process with people who deeply understand the diverse elements involved.

2. Run a fine tooth comb

Inspecting an aircraft’s operating, maintenance and compliance history is an intensive job. However, it is only half the job. Your aircraft needs to be compatible with the operating requirements in your home country. Based on prevailing Airworthiness Directives, Service Bulletins and your own prefernces, we will evaluate and recommend upgrades or modifications to the aircraft

2. Aircraft Import and AOP Issuance

You will encounter multiple agencies in your endeavour to bring home your aircraft. And a lot of paperwork. A lot.

Ministry of Home Affairs, Customs, DGCA, Department of Telecommunications, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Airport Authorities, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, just to name a few. The procedures of these entities can be independent or intertwined. Timing of filing applications is crucial so that you don’t idle your time when you could have reached an important milestone as you wait for another process to complete.

Incorrect timing can also cause you financial loss, besides delaying your import process. It is important to engage an experienced team for the job. We repeat, there is no substitute for experience and patience. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Buying an aircraft is a bit of a marathon, and not a sprint.

3. Airworthiness Management

Next to fuel, maintenance is likely to be your biggest expense. And the most difficult to get a grip on. It is also an area most neglected (or avoided) by aviation advisors when you are on the cusp of clicking the ‘buy’ button. The reasons are multiple – unwillingness to ‘scare’ the buyer and lose a lucrative brokerage deal, inadequate experience in the field of maintenance, but mostly an incomplete understanding of what maintenance entails.

At its core, maintenance management covers the following areas:

1. Continuing Airworthiness Management 2. Liaison with Maintenance Agency
2. Defect reporting and resolution
3. Planning of downtime
4. Regulatory compliance and reporting

Our team has extensive experience in the field of aircraft maintenance, which is a crucial element in your ownership journey.

4. Operations Management

Like maintenance, operations is a highly specialised area, owing to the multitude of agencies involved – Airport Operators, Refuelling Vendors, Flight Plan filers, Ground Handlers, MROs, Air Traffic Controllers, Caterers, the ubiquitous DGCA and if you are flying a helicopter, even local Municipal Authorities! On many occasions all this has to be arranged at a short notice.

But there is much more than what is visible. At the backend, flight plans need to be prepared, log books need to be filled, reports submitted to regulators, crew logistics to be arranged, meal preferences to be obtained, airport passes to be arranged for special visitors. Suffice to stay, the ops team needs to be available practically 24×7, have awesome multi tasking abilities and above all, a passion to see the aircraft fly, on time, every time.

5. Crew Management

Unlike Commercial Aviation, Business Aviation is a segment that does not benefit from economies of scale. Like the multitude of business aircraft types operating in the Indian skies, the crew credentials are also diverse. From getting your aircraft to fly after import, to the more stable phase of ownership, pilot and cabin crew qualifications always need to be current. Similarly crew training for your type of business aircraft is unlikely to be available year round, leaving a smaller window to be compliant.

It is important that your aviation advisors have a good network among the pilot community to get replacement crew at short notice and the foresight and planning skills to sync crew downtimes with maintenance downtime.

As with operations and maintenance, there is a lot of backend work that goes on, such as filing of log books, defect reporting and incident reporting – the non glamorous part of flying. Ensure that your management team is on top of the game, as the last thing you want is to have your aircraft sitting on the ground for lack of crew

6. Ongoing Regulatory Compliance

Dealing with regulators can be daunting, even for the best teams. Regulatory compliance is a time consuming, painstaking process requiring a lot of attention to detail, seriousness, paper work and patience.

Literally every aspect of aircraft ownership is umbilically tied to regulation. While some of it is fairly predictable in nature and easily fits into a compliance calendar that you will need to monitor, a substantial part requires you to be pro-active. For example, you may want to delay or advance a certain maintenance schedule because you anticipate heavy flying. For the same reason, you may want temporary exemption from complying with an Airworthiness Directive.

Regulators are strict but reasonable too. A past track record of meticulous compliance helps you negotiate certain flexibilities in a manner that is within the boundaries of regulation.

7. Expense Management

To be honest, there isn’t much leverage over costs in an aviation environment. Fuel, Airport Landing and Parking charges, Spare Parts, Power by the Hour programs, RNFC/TNLC charges, Ground Handling charges – they are all more or less fixed and non negotiable. Be wary of any ‘advisor’ telling you that they can bring your costs substantially down.

However, what can be done is creating an exhaustive budget for your aircraft ownership, so that you can plan your cash flows well. In essence, this brings together all the expertise that we have written about so far – Operations, Maintenance and Crewing. All these are cost drivers and not all of them are spread out equally over the ownership period. An experienced team is aware of the smallest expenses that can add up.

8. Charter Management

Allowing your aircraft to be used by other parties for a fee (chartering) is an acceptable way of offsetting your fixed costs, provided your aircraft operates under a Non-Scheduled Operating Permit. The cost offsetting ability of charters can be substantial, especially if your own usage is sparing.

It helps if your management team has a good network within the aircraft charter market, and also a technology platform that enables third parties to submit charter queries and get quotations with a quick turnaround time.

Once booked, the charter flights are managed with the same quality standards as your own flights, and subject to the same standards of documentation and compliance.

9. Caution! Do not try this on your own

Ok, there might have been a bit of exaggeration in that. But as an aircraft owner, you need to benefit from ‘abstraction’ – i.e. experience only what is necessary, while your management team takes care of the rest. Your most expensive personal asset should provide you joy and peace of mind, not another giant ‘to-do list’.

Equally important is that you benefit from the collective expertise of the best in the industry, at a fraction of the cost. By appointing an aircraft management company, you are entrusting your asset to such experts and also mitigating continuity concerns that arise when your own staff moves on.

Worldwide, outsourcing aircraft management is the standard practice, and for a reason. We understand that you may want to outsource only certain elements. Whatever be your requirement, we are only a call away