CJI Town Hall, Masterclass: ‘Safety, quality, honesty and transparency’


Buying a business aircraft is a collaborative effort, said Jay Mesinger. (Photocredit: Mesinger Jet Sales).

Most Mondays, Allen McReynolds, chief operating officer, Weststar Aviation runs a training class for new recruits. “The first thing I tell them is: “Safety, quality, honesty and transparency,” McReynolds told CJI’s Town Hall, Masterclass: The perfect ownership experience this week.

It’s an approach designed to ensure that business aircraft owners really do have the perfect ownership experience. “We lead with that as a culture and a mantra,” said McReynolds of the MRO business. “We tell them [owners] what it’s [their aircraft] going to look like going out of the door [after aircraft maintenance]. And we tell them about surprises when they happen. It’s an expectation they really appreciate.”

Often aircraft maintenance is one of the last things new owners think about when closing a transaction. But, in reality, it’s one of the most important parts of the ownership experience, which often becomes an afterthought, said McReynolds of Weststar Aviation. “The complexity in this thing we call maintenance; most people don’t think about. But hiring a DoM [director of maintenance] to represent your best interest in a complex environment is a key part of ownership,” he added.

‘All on the first day’

Buying a business aircraft is a collaborative effort, according to speakers. Jay Mesinger, CEO/president, Mesinger Jet Sales, which sponsored the Town Hall had this advice for new buyers: “I tell people when they start to think about buying to talk to their lender, interview [prospective] management companies and your aviation attorney – all on the first day They are all parallel paths that you need to come together at one time to enjoy your asset from Day One.”

So much of the industry’s focus lies on the transactional side – the buying and selling. “But there’s so much that goes on in the middle and that is the ownership,” he added. “Operating your airplane is all part of getting ready to, one day, sell it and buy another one. But let’s not forget this place in the middle where the joy can come in.”

Welcoming new entrants to this industry effectively depended on understanding the perspective of where they come from, said Bob Marinace, chief experience officer with private jet charter and management company Solairus Aviation. 

Those who come from fractional and charter “know the acronyms” and the basics of scheduling and using an aircraft but they don’t understand the ownership experience, said Marinace. “What we are about is to help educate and to explain how this will differ from what they have experienced so far,” he added.

‘One of the first things you talk about’

Too often the selection of a management company is not prioritised, said Stewart Lapayowker, managing shareholder, Lapayowker Jet Counsel. “Unfortunately, for new aircraft owners, selection of a management company seemed to get overlooked and then it’s a scramble to fine one,” said Lapayowker. “But it should be one of the first things you talk about.”

Some of the key questions to answer, he said, are: Are you going to set up your own organic flight department; are you going to have a managed aircraft and if so, who will be the manager? It is important to engage a management company that understands the new owner’s preferred structure and can be flexible and deliver the services they are looking for.

“First-time buyers haven’t got the experience [to make informed decisions on their own],” said Lapayowker. “But they get a lot of free advice. Everybody at a cocktail party tells you how to do it right.”

You can watch the hour-long, free-to-view CJI Town Hall, Masterclass here. The next Masterclass – devoted to buying business aircraft – aganin sponsored by Mesinger Jet Sales, will take place on Wednesday, September 25th. These Town Halls complement CJI’s Aircraft Transaction Masterclass.