What Is Business Aviation?
General aviation includes all aircraft not flown by the airlines or the military. Business aviation, one of the most important segments of general aviation, consists of companies and individuals using aircraft as tools in the conduct of their business.
Business aircraft are utilized by all types of people and companies, from individuals who often fly rented, single-engine, piston-powered airplanes, to sales or management teams from the largest multinational corporations, many of which own fleets of multi-engine, turbine-powered aircraft and employ their own flightcrews, maintenance technicians and other aviation support personnel.
Many large companies use business aircraft to transport personnel and priority cargo to a variety of far-flung company or customer locations, including sites overseas. Often business aircraft are used to bring customers to company facilities for factory tours and product demonstrations. Companies and individuals, such as salespeople and doctors, use business aircraft to cover regional territories within several hundred miles of their home bases. While the overwhelming majority of business aircraft missions are conducted on demand, some companies have scheduled operations, known as corporate shuttles, which essentially are in-house airlines. Most corporations that operate business aircraft use modern, multi-engine, turbine-powered jets, turboprops or turbine helicopters that are certified to the highest applicable transport-category standards. Aircraft built specifically for business use vary from four-seat, short-range, piston-powered airplanes to two- and three-engine corporate jets that can carry up to 19 passengers nearly 7,000 miles nonstop. Some companies even use airline-type jets. Helicopters also are often used for business transportation.
Although the majority of business aircraft are owned by individuals or companies, businesses also utilize business aviation through arrangements such as chartering, leasing, fractional ownership, time-sharing agreements, interchange agreements, partnerships and aircraft management contracts.
Business aircraft generally are not flown for hire. Thus, the majority of U.S.-registered business aircraft are governed by Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Most U.S.-registered business aircraft that can be flown for compensation are regulated by FAR Part 135, which covers on-demand commercial operations. Regardless of how business aircraft are utilized, companies choose them because they provide safe, efficient, flexible and reliable transportation.
Business vs. Corporate Aircraft
The terms business aircraft and corporate aircraft often are used interchangeably because they both refer to an aircraft used to support a business enterprise. The terms are generic and do not refer to specific NBAA Membership categories.
The FAA defines business transportation as “any use of an aircraft (not for compensation or hire) by an individual for transportation required by the business in which the individual is engaged.” The FAA defines corporate/executive transportation as “any use of an aircraft by a corporation, company or other organization (not for compensation or hire) for the purposes of transporting its employees and/or property, and employing professional pilots for the operation of the aircraft.”
Why Business Aircraft?
Of all the benefits of business aircraft, increased productivity of personnel is probably the most important. Companies that fly general aviation aircraft for business purposes can control virtually all aspects of their travel plans. Itineraries can be changed instantly, and business aircraft can be flown to thousands more destinations than are served by the scheduled airlines.
Business aircraft are engineered and built to the highest standards, and companies that maintain their own aircraft have complete control over the readiness of their fleets.
- Saving Employee Time. Efficient employee scheduling and employee time savings are key advantages of business aircraft use. Because business aircraft have the ability to fly nonstop between small close-in airports, highly efficient employee time management becomes a very real benefit.
- Increasing Productivity Enroute. Employee productivity sustained enroute to a business destination – in a secure office environment, free from interruptions, distractions or eavesdropping – can have substantial value to an employer, including strategizing before meetings and debriefing afterwards or meeting with customer’s enroute.
- Minimizing Non-business Hours Away from Home. “Family time” before and after traditional business hours is critical to most employees and can have an acute effect on employee morale and productivity. Business aircraft allow flexible scheduling and quick and easy access to meeting locations, thereby minimizing time away from home and office.
- Ensuring Industrial Security. Avoiding eavesdropping, reducing travel visibility, eliminating unwanted and unnecessary conversations and interruptions, all support the use of business aircraft to safeguard company employees and the sensitive information they carry.
- Maximizing Personal Safety and Peace of Mind. Turbine-powered business aircraft flown by two-person professional crews have a safety record comparable to that of the largest scheduled airlines. The peace of mind that results from complete company control over the aircraft flown, passenger and baggage manifests, pilot quality and training, aircraft maintenance, and operational safety standards is substantial.
- Exercising Management Control Over Efficient, Reliable Scheduling. The near-total scheduling flexibility inherent in business aircraft – even changing itineraries enroute – can be a powerful asset. As aircraft can arrive and depart on the passengers’ schedule, typically waiting for them in the ordinary course of business, meetings can be moved up, back, or extended without penalty, risk or unnecessary scheduling pressures. Overnight trips often can be avoided.
- Projecting a Positive Corporate Image. For customers particularly, and often for vendors, the arrival and departure of company employees via business aircraft is the sign of a well-run company, signaling the progressive nature of an organization with a keen interest in efficient time management and high levels of productivity. If used for charitable purposes, significant public-service contributions, as well as possible public relations benefits also can be realized.
- Charging the Entrepreneurial Spirit. By minimizing or eliminating many of the barriers to travel, business aircraft allow business opportunities to be more readily considered and acted upon. Business cultures and their strategies change as markets, facilities and customers in other, often-rural areas of the country – once practically unreachable and thus unconsidered – are newly accessible.
Source: NBAA Business Aviation Fact Book 2002