Business is booming for aircraft maintenance and financial support company Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI, Booth 1333) as the business jet market continues its red-hot run. CEO Neil Book said some large-cabin aircraft customers are flying individual aircraft close to 200 hours a month. “In my 12 years in this industry, I've never seen a market like this. I've never seen inventory at 4 percent levels and the prices that things are selling for,” he said.
On Monday at NBAA-BACE, JSSI unveiled a complete integration of its customer portal with valuation, performance, and operating cost data from its Conklin and de Decker subsidiary. Every customer enrolled in a JSSI maintenance and support program will have free access to this data. JSSI acquired Conklin and de Decker in 2018.
Book said the data empowers customers by including “key performance metrics of [selected] aircraft types, operating cost information, and the ability to create real-time comparisons between different aircraft. This is something we've wanted to do since we acquired Conklin and de Decker. It’s in line with our overarching principle of allowing our clients to make informed decisions by providing transparency,” said Book. Loading the data onto the portal, he added, “makes it easier and simpler for our customers to access. We just think it is a great way to keep clients informed.”
The portal gives JSSI customers the ability to access a wide cross-section of company services from a single location, report their flight hours, and receive invoices. They can also use it to access more than 40,000 lines of parts inventory and parts prices, as well as order parts, Book said. Customers can access other services, including aircraft appraisals and maintenance event management.
Book said the jet market is changing “very, very quickly. We're working hard to stay on top of it and provide the most up-to-date information that's possible. I think we've done a pretty good job of pricing our contracts in a way where we don't necessarily need to really go back and reprice [them]. There are cases, though, with some of our fleet customers where they're flying at utilizations that we've never seen before.”
The uptick in flight tempos means JSSI has to push maintenance events forward and ensure slots are available at approved maintenance facilities and that parts are available when the customers need them and, he said, “keep things as cost-effective as possible.” These new market dynamics are “a little crazy right now” and are likely to continue.
“We still haven't quite defined what's the new normal," Book explained, "but there have been so many new entrants into business aviation over the last 18 to 24 months and we're not going to see those new entrants disappear.” These new entrants are almost equally distributed across Part 91 and Part 135 operators, and JSSI’s new customers are also equally distributed between its flight hour and parts programs. “I don't quite know what normalization is going to look like just yet. We're just working hard to meet the demand,” he said.
To better serve the growing market, JSSI acquired SierraTrax, an aircraft maintenance tracking software company, in late June. Book said the acquisition was aimed at increasing JSSI’s presence in the owner-operator market. SierraTrax handles data for 3,000 aircraft on a daily basis while JSSI serves around 4,000 aircraft—about 20 percent of the business jet market, according to Book.
Overall, he said JSSI has been better able to meet the increased demand for private aircraft travel triggered by the pandemic by not reducing its workforce during the various lockdowns. “We did not reduce headcount and our employees across-the-board made a lot of sacrifices to ensure we didn’t have to, so we are pretty well staffed,” he said.
The company is adding staff on the development side as the business continues to expand, focusing on analytics and adding programmers to enable JSSI to integrate “all of the data sharing on the back end," he said. "That’s where we have been spending quite a bit over the last 12 months.”
JSSI also is moving forward with its sustainability initiative, helping clients calculate carbon emissions and purchase carbon offsets. “About 30 years ago, Bill de Decker developed a carbon calculator to estimate emissions and we’ve integrated the calculator and the ability to purchase carbon offsets into our customer portal. Reducing carbon emissions is certainly something we feel a responsibility to do," Book said.