Zero to 60:
What a start-up process looks like in today's market
by Jay Mesinger
the car ads - tough, muscle cars line up at the starting
line, the light turns to green, and away they go. Zero to 60
in mere seconds. Then the announcer comes on to declare the
winner, going on to describe the attributes of the winning
car: Speed, agility, and other benefits. Today’s aircraft
buyers also seem to want to go from zero to 60 in mere
seconds and fly in the newly acquired aircraft as quickly as
buyers than ever in our 34 years of experience are hiring
our company, and when they make the commitment to get on the
track, hold on, they want a process that is lightning fast,
but misses no turns!
Most of our
acquisition clients are attracted to like-new aircraft,
despite this segment of the market being quite
unapproachable. In fact, almost all of our business these
days is centered in this arena. I have spoken often in this
column about the pricing phenomenon around near term, new
delivery and the like-new aircraft. Prices seem free
floating and not linked to anything other than supply and
add, however, that this segment brings great benefit along
with it. Manufacturer’s warranties are often still in
effect, product support is enjoyed at the highest level,
technology is the latest and greatest, and dispatch
reliability is the best. Clearly, there are many reasons for
those capable to choose this segment as a point of entry.
Now let’s look at process and speed.
look at the “Zero to 60 in Seconds” designation as an
indication of the time from being hired by a client to the
closing. First-time buyers could look at it as a metaphor
for starting with no aviation investment and then quickly
getting to a huge one. Both would be correct in this
example. If you look at the investment in the aircraft given
today’s cost or barrier to entry, you would see that in
short order someone with no involvement or investment is
quickly on par with many people who have invested in a new,
highly capitalized, start-up business.
In fact, as
I start these acquisition processes with new entrants, I try
to take each step and liken it to a business start-up. Each
section of the process must be well thought out, properly
planned and, most importantly, perfectly staffed. After all,
the aircraft is basically an inanimate object until you add
the people. So it goes back to what I have always said about
this business: It is not an airplane business, it is a
people business; people selling people aircraft, or people
flying people in aircraft.
want to minimize the very important work in profiling the
mission and choosing the correct aircraft for the job, but I
also don’t want to understate the critical importance of the
operation and people that it will take to have the aircraft
perform as represented by the profiling process.
If you look
at an operation in slices, you can see pieces of a pie that
are individually labeled with the name of an integral
participant. Let’s take a look at the pieces.
believed that for a first-time entrant, the idea of
management is crucial and the partnership is invaluable.
This applies regardless of the rules that may apply to
operation, whether it be 135 charter or part 91.
piece of the pie is the maintenance personnel that are
either dedicated to your aircraft exclusively or tasked with
a directorship among a very small group of planes. In fact,
a maintenance director should be on-site with your
acquisition professional at the pre-purchase inspection so
that they can best understand the asset and be involved from
Additionally, the insurance piece of the pie is enormous. A
skilled insurance professional should carefully analyze the
operation, the equipment, and the structure of ownership to
develop coverages that match the needs. Not too much and
certainly not too little. In fact, while I feel that the
structure of the process and the operations of the asset are
important, having the right insurance coverage is critical.
professional is integral. This should be someone currently
on the client’s existing team working in conjunction with
someone with aviation specific knowledge brought in to
assist the client’s internal team. There is so much change
today in the area of taxation that this area must not be
Considerations should not be made using even year-old
the next people-piece of the pie. Of course, one’s in-house
counsel or current legal professional is vital, but in
addition, the use of a highly skilled aviation attorney is a
must. Do not just consider that one needs an aviation
attorney to look at a sale and purchase contract. One also
needs aviation intelligence when negotiating the management
agreement, loan documents specific to the transaction, the
operating leases so as to fit correctly within the
regulatory minefield, and the insurance policy. This ensures
that expectations of coverage, once blended with the
operational aspects, are met.
there is no piece more pivotal to a great operation as the
flight crew. The pilot and all the characteristics of the
crew can make or break the enjoyment and sheer success of
the new operation.
choice wisely and with absolute clarity so that the
operation meets or exceeds the initial expectations that
drove you to this very expensive, valuable method of
transportation. Do not let the entire business you just
invested heavily in be misguided by a ‘piece of pie’.
Remember, Zero to 60 in Seconds is fast - don’t let the
wrong people take you to the wrong finish line.
Jay Mesinger is the CEO of J. Mesinger Corporate
Jet Sales, Inc. He is on the NBAA Board of Directors
and is Vice Chairman of the AMAC. Additionally, he
served on the Duncan Aviation Customer Advisory
Board for two terms, is a member of MEBAA, EBAA
and is associated with IBAC.