CJIQ322 probes charter’s future and takes off with Top Gun


The future of US charter operations, CJI’s Sustainability Power Players and a profile of the aviation entrepreneur who helped to film the movie Top Gun: Maverick all feature in the latest edition of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly (CJIQ).

Our cover feature, US Charter: Can its climb continue? focuses on seven leading operators: Clay Lacy, flyExclusive, Jet Aviation, Jet Linx, Solairus, VistaJet and Wheels Up. After demand for private jet aviation reached new heights in the pandemic, is demand for charter beginning to slow? Plus, how do the operators we consulted view their prospects over the next 10 years?

But we begin the latest edition of CJIQ322 with a report about Hamish Harding, chairman, Action Aviation and his journey into space aboard the Jeff Bezos New Shepard 4 space rocket. Harding joined five other astronauts for the 10-minute space flight. Despite a tough training regime, Harding treasured the remarkable view. “Borderless, beautiful and fragile – Earth amid the complete blackness above, which was a clear definition of space as I experienced it.

From space to supersonic speed (Mach 1.8 or 1,190 mph, to be precise), as we strap up to fly a modified Phenom Embraer 300 used as a camera ship to film the movie Top Gun: Maverick. Aviation entrepreneur Jonathan Spano explains how he backed a hunch to invest in repurposing the Phenom for aerial photography ahead of shooting (just with a camera) the supersonic Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets starring in the blockbuster movie.

“Had it not been for a big feature film like Top Gun, it would take 10 years to pay back my investment,” says Spano. “No sane person takes an $8m aircraft and takes nearly two years and seven figures on a project like this.” We also talk to Phenom pilot Kevin LaRosa who also flew another camera ship, a modified Aero L-39 Albatross Cold War jet trainer to film the dogfight sequences. “I flew the Phenom 300 for the approaches to the USS Theodore Roosevelt super carrier,” La Rosa recalls. “We are probably the only civilians ever to be approved to fly that close in a private jet.”

We stay with heroes – this time, sustainability heroes, as we unveil Corporate Jet Investor’s list of the 20 most influential men and women in sustainable business aviation. CJI recruited five leading independent industry figures to identify the Sustainability Power Players 2022 to mark the achievement who individuals who are driving real progress in aviation sustainability.

Big thanks to our judges: David Crick, accredited senior appraiser, American Society of Appraisers and MD DavAir Group, Marie-Laure Gassier, Jet and Yacht Finance specialist, BNP Paribas, Dan Hubbard, senior vice president Communications, NBAA, Anthony Lam, Director, External Affairs, Asian Business Aircraft Association, Tim Obitts, formerly president and CEO, National Air Transport Association and Ford von Weise, director – global head, Aircraft Finance at Citi Private Bank.

Commenting on the Power Players heroes, Dan Hubbard, senior vice president, NBAA said: This inaugural list of nominees includes people who have been at the forefront of aviation sustainability and who are pioneers in moving the industry forward toward a carbon neutral future.”

From Piper Cubs to business jets in 66 years tracks the journey our latest Aircraft Family profile featuring Duncan Aviation. The Nebraska-based MRO specialist also provides aircraft sales, avionic installations, interior and paint completions as well as parts support for aircraft manufactured by Bombardier, Dassault, Textron, Gulfstream and Embraer. Today the company is led by Todd Duncan and also includes sons Harrison and PK on the executive team.

Far less durable has proved the UK firm Arena Television. This was one of the country’s biggest outdoor broadcasting firms, before its directors fled pursued for a suspected multi-million-dollar, asset-backed lending fraud. We unravel the tangled finances of the company, with help from Alan Cunningham, formerly partner, DLA Piper.

Another company profile – this time with a much happier outcome – concerns Four Corners Aviation. A sister company of Mente, Four Corners aims to have spotted a new niche in the private jet market by offering all the benefits of ownership “with none of the hassle”, according to Vincent Kavanagh, its head of Sales. “There’s more transparency to [the company’s new] Freedom programme over a five-year period than there is in a jet card solution, because the jet card is affected by market costs and inflation,” claims Kavanagh.

The edition also includes reports from our CJI Singapore 2022 conference and CJI Revolution.Aero conference staged earlier this year.

We close with our Day in the Life profile of ferry pilot Margrit Waltz. After completing 900 transatlantic crossings and logging 25,000 flight hours, Waltz is almost ready to retire. “In May ’87, I delivered three aircraft and a baby,” Waltz tells us. “I flew nine months pregnant, had a baby and a week later I was back in the cockpit.”

Meanwhile, read the digital version of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly here. Or register for your free print copy here.

Above: The Phenom 300 camera ship – armed only with movie film – slides into the Super Hornet’s six o’clock position.