“What’s the difference between fractional helicopter operations and fractional business jet operations?” asked one fractional sales professional rhetorically. “Well, it’s like comparing a rare tropical orchid with dandelions. The orchid can grow and prosper in only a special and rather rare environment, while the dandelion sprouts up just about anywhere there’s sunlight and water.
At first glance, the fractional industry, like the alien menace in a sci-fi thriller, appears to be morphing into a menagerie of hybrids. But in reality these hybrids are essentially sales and marketing programs of existing operations, both fractional and charter.
Executive Jet Aviation owner and CEO Richard Santulli brought the fractional-ownership concept to the business aviation community in the mid-1980s. Santulli created a program called NetJets, selling aircraft in shares ranging from 1/16ths to halves.
According to Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US) of Cincinnati, the great majority of fractional aircraft share owners are satisfied with their program and plan to renew. According to ARG/US president Joseph Moeggenberg, 82 percent of fractional customers indicate they are satisfied with their current fractional program and 80 percent intend to renew with that same program. provider.
Cleveland-based Flight Options came full circle late last month when it named company founder Kenn Ricci chairman, ending months of speculation that he would again take the helm of the fractional provider. In addition, Flight Options appointed Mike Silvestro the new CEO, replacing former chief executive S. Michael Scheeringa, who will remain an investor in Flight Options and a “strategic advisor at the board level,” a spokesman said.
Four months after John Nahill, former v-p of corporate strategy and development at Raytheon Co., took charge of Flight Options from its founder and then chairman and CEO Kenn Ricci, Raytheon in mid-June completed a “financial recapitalization agreement” in which it now owns approximately 65 percent of the world’s second-largest fractional aircraft ownership company.
The growth of fractional aircraft share sales has cooled recently, reflected by delayed and canceled orders for new aircraft by fractional providers (AIN, May, page 1). Another apparent reflection of the downturn is the sharp reduction in total pilot hiring by the major fractional providers.
Flight Options’ paperless cockpits are so well-liked by its pilots that those who end up with airplanes not yet equipped with electronic flight bags (EFBs) feel slighted.
James Miller, v-p of Flight Options, said here yesterday that the two “hot things for us this year” are installing EFBs in the remainder of the fractional giant’s 200-plus fleet of airplanes and putting AirCell satcom phones in all of its aircraft.
The last year has been a rewarding one for Jet-Care International of Cedar Knolls, N.J., a subsidiary of UK’s Spectro Laboratories, its representatives reported at NBAA ’02. The company has expanded the list of clients for its services while also gaining good response to the new upgrade for its ECHO (Engine Condition Health Online) software package.
It’s become tradition. No sooner does a manufacturer introduce a new airplane than NetJets follows right behind with an order announcement. This year’s NBAA Convention is no exception. The Woodbridge, N.J.-based fractional jet operator has placed orders and options for 200 of the newest midsize business jets, introduced here by Cessna and Gulfstream, transactions that have a potential value of nearly $2 billion.