CJI Town Hall: Jet membership programmes might eclipse Part 91 flight departments
There is a high chance that some Part 91 operated flight departments will be cut due to Covid-19, Andy Nixon, co-founder of MRO Insider said at CJI’s weekly Town Hall online meeting focusing on ‘The Mx Factor’.
Nixon said there had been a significant drop in flight hours for the company’s customers this year. He mentioned an Ohio-based client which has had to sell half its fleet, despite operating an established flight department for 28 years.
He notes that there has been a shift towards membership programmes offered by Wheels Up, NetJets and Jet Linx. Wheels Up sold more memberships than ever before in April this year, he said.
In addition, Nixon has heard from some “legacy flight departments – some Part 91 operators – that their backs are against the wall because they can no longer afford to go to the OEMs or the ‘big six MROs’” for maintenance-related issues.
As a result, departments are starting to utilise MRO Insider’s network of 150 (MRO and aircraft-on-ground) mobile locations more, to weigh their options and receive transparent quotes. The tech-based company has seen 70% growth in business from this time last year, according to Nixon.
“We have an app now, similar to Uber, which makes it easy for somebody at their AOG to look for someone within 300-miles to come out and fix their plane or do detailing or help them out with some parts,” he said.
The app also allows customers to seek scheduled maintenance, where they can attach a ‘due list’ for any capable facility on the network and receive a number of different quotes at once. This takes away the usual hassles of the trade, according to Nixon: “It’s a one-and-done thing and they can see their options.”
There is also competition with the OEMs on some levels: “Not getting access to the data, not selling manuals to them, or not getting the necessary parts,” he said.
So, the company has widened its options to find people in the second tier MRO service providers who can overhaul essential parts without relying on the OEMs.
Nixon said: “Our goal in 10 years is to drive the efficiency, based on our platform, to keep it more affordable and hopefully the Part 91 will stick around.”
Carbon offset programme
MRO Insider is also carrying the sustainable aviation flag with a carbon offset programme it plans to carry out on land owned by Nixon’s family, in Michigan. The team is growing pine tree saplings which are expected to need continued maintenance over three to four years. Each sapling is expected to offset approximately one flight hour of a mid-sized aircraft.
Next spring, Nixon and his team hope to persuade Part-135 operators to sponsor the project. “Talk is cheap in this industry, but we have started small and hopefully it will go somewhere.”