Owning a private jet is a big responsibility but sometimes the “dream” gets in the way of common sense when it comes to making sure you fully understand what you are undertaking. The lure of luxury, convenience and endless travel possibilities can sometimes lead potential owners to forget some very complicated necessities that come with the package – maintenance for example.
Safety and performance are critical elements of private jet travel and if not planned well can result in endless downtime issues or worse. This should not be a “learn as you go” exercise. Owners need to learn about and plan for the efficient operation of an aircraft before committing themselves and their finances.
As maintenance professionals we see 5 common mistakes that owners make and that we try to help them correct if they’ve had a bad experience. Here they are:
- Owners who selected their maintenance partners after purchase instead of during the process. We find that the owners with fewer problems did their research and hired an aircraft management firm before they finalized any purchase. This allowed them to get to know the people they’d be relying on in the future and to involve them in the purchase process. Getting their perspective, advice and suggestions helps owners make smart decisions and to become fully operational faster.
- Not completing a thorough pre purchase inspection. This is linked closely to point one, because without having put a team together prior to purchase, it’s highly likely that this step, or elements of it, will not be properly completed. This includes a critical review of maintenance records that cover the entire history of the aircraft designed to uncover recurring issues such as corrosion or other complications that are hard to eradicate.
- Not having a clear, detailed and transparent communications process. Sounds easy, right? Not necessarily so. This is especially true for first time owners who don’t have past experiences to guide them. It’s easy for maintenance and management firms to make promises and to assure owners but what’s the actual process going to be? Owners should sit down with their management companies and agree on SOP’s and individual responsibilities of personnel on both sides. It should be written down and a firm part of any contract.
- Making time the most important factor. Having a tight deadline driving your maintenance needs is always a mistake. It puts undue pressure on decision makers who should be concentrating on one thing only – doing the job correctly in whatever time is required. The best way to manage time is to agree on a regular maintenance schedule designed to minimize downtime on an annual basis. There will be occasions when unscheduled maintenance is required and patience will be your best friend in this instance. If you’ve selected the right aircraft management partner, they’ll know that efficiency is the goal when it comes to time.
- Having a hands-off attitude. Leaving things up to the experts is always good, but we caution that a completely hands-off mentality by owners is dangerous. Owners should want to educate themselves and be informed about their aircraft. A good way to do this is scheduled top-to-top calls with your management company’s leadership to ask question and to understand issues. If they know you and have regular contact with you, it will help ensure heightened attention and response… and after all, that’s what you’re paying for.
Start by avoiding these 5 common mistakes and you’ll get the most out of trouble-free ownership. With a little investment in time and attention, you’ll get more enjoyment out of using your aircraft.