Top Gun: Maverick – The lessons the movie can offer business aviation


The movie blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick can teach business aviation powerful lessons about how to engage with its clients and workforce, James Hardie, director of  Course Correction Consulting told the recent British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) Annual Conference.

“What the film Maverick does is the same as every story that’s ever been told – that is to invite us to find the hero,” said Hardie. “That’s what we need to do in our workplaces. We need to make the customers the hero in their story and the employees the hero in their story.”

“No one is coming to save us. It is up to us,” said Hardie, who recently launched his own aviation consultancy and is a BBGA board member. “We need to be the guides to help the industry create the heroes for today and tomorrow.”

Business aviation should be proud of what it does and strive to be exemplary employers and continue to be progressive in facing challenges, particularly around sustainability, he added. “We need to be aware of the challenges that lie ahead and some of the benefits of the industry need to be spoken about more capably.”

Combatting sometimes negative perceptions of business aviation was essential if the sector was to compete with other employers to attract new generations of talent to forge the workforce of tomorrow. In addition to addressing perceptions of the industry, in the UK and Europe there were structural issues around qualifications and certifications.

More effort should be made to showcase the wide range of careers available in business aviation – aside from the high-profile role of pilots, engineers and technicians. “This also means considering important issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, while remaining at the cutting edge of innovation and digitalisation,” he said.

He also urged business aviation to adopt a more inclusive approach to structuring the future work force. “Tomorrow’s workforce is not just about Millennials and GenZ, it is about an ageing workforce and also one that recognises neurodiversity and is accommodating to everyone,” said Hardie. That accommodation should be both positive, extending “above and beyond” the basic legal requirements. “The benefit is that this is attractive to potential employees and that leads to happier customers,” he added.

“There’s an aging workforce and a demographic trough that coming,” warned Hardie. “There are now more people in the US over 40 than under 40 – and this happened just recently. Some are already calling us the Never Retire Generation.”

Meanwhile, during Hardie’s presentation, two climate change activists from Fossil Free London burst into the conference shouting slogans against aviation. One complained, from the conference stage, that business aviation had no plan to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. “If you want to persuade people that your industry is not part of the global crisis, then show us your plan to reach net zero [carbon emissions] by 2050,” shouted one protestor.

Marc Bailey, CEO, BBGA told the protestors that the association welcomed the opportunity to discuss the group’s concerns about business aviation’s environmental record – but on another occasion.

Outside the conference hall, BBGA staff and board members spoke to the activists and reached an initial agreement to hold discussions in the future. 

The movie Top Gun: Maverick sets an inspiring example for business aviation, says James Hardie (pictured top) from Course Correction Consulting.