Aviation accidents receive a disproportionately high amount of publicity compared to other forms of transportation accidents and often are the subject of distorted media coverage. In fact, business aircraft have compiled an outstanding safety record that is comparable to or better than that of the airlines.
Most accidents experienced by major air carriers and corporate aircraft are the result of human error, with complacency being a significant component of those human failings. Companies operating their own aircraft have the ability to exercise nearly complete control over the human element of business aviation. Management selects their aircraft, the personnel who pilot and maintain them, the training by which their flight department’s proficiency is maintained and the schedules flown. That ability to exercise control is a key reason why business aircraft safety is excellent and management has chosen to use them. No other form of air travel provides companies with such direct control over the factors that influence safety.
Safety typically is the top priority of companies that operate aircraft. It may seem odd to mention the excellent safety record of business aircraft following an accident involving business aircraft. However, this travel method is among the safest available and is utilized daily by more than 10,000 companies operating business aircraft in the United States.
Reasons for Company Use of Business Aircraft
Understanding why companies operate – or don’t operate – aircraft can be mysterious to those unfamiliar with business aviation. Simply put, employees travel to succeed in business. They travel via business aircraft for the same reason.
For many businesses, commercial airlines often are the appropriate choice. However, depending on a specific trip’s itinerary and the value placed on passenger time and productivity, travel by business aircraft can be the least expensive and most effective way to go when all costs and benefits are considered. These employee travel judgments, typically made on a trip-by-trip basis, are subject to the same cost/benefit considerations and analysis applicable to any business decision and will include the costs of door to service using limousines to and from airports. There are also some important trips that are just too difficult and time consuming to make on the airlines. Such trips would be untenable and subsequently forfeited if a more effective form of transportation, such as business aircraft, didn’t exist. Other common questions regarding business aviation include:
Q: Do business aircraft compete directly with the airlines?
A: No. Both the airlines and business aircraft are safe and efficient forms of transportation, but the selection of a particular travel mode depends upon destination and other business considerations. Operators of business aircraft traditionally have been heavy users of the airlines, with ticket purchases exceeding $11 billion annually.
Q: Why are business aircraft sometimes a better alternative?
A: Business aircraft can fly directly between any two locations served by nearly 5000 airports in the contiguous U.S. – about 10 times the locations served by scheduled airlines and nearly 100 times the locations with convenient service. “On-the-road” costs, such as hotels, meals, airport parking, rental cars, taxis, etc., can be minimized by shorter and more efficient itineraries. Further, the office-like environment on business aircraft facilitates unusually high levels of collaboration and productivity. For example, business aircraft passengers benefit from privacy and quiet (no competitors watching or listening), a lack of interruptions (no strangers or crying babies aboard), the option of club seating and tables (to work comfortably with colleagues), and access to office equipment (phones, faxes or other office-oriented technology)
Q: If business aviation is so beneficial, why doesn’t everyone use it?
A: Like any business tool, the acquisition and use of business aircraft is subject to careful cost considerations, and like all business options, the cost/benefit relationship must be favorable for the option to be exercised. Consequently, managers use either the airlines or business aviation; whichever is more appropriate to the situation at hand. Another huge factor that has given cause for more deliberation is the move by Emirates among other leading airlines to raise standards for first class travel. Some of the aircraft are now like 5 star hotels inside. This video gives a glimpse of the world inside an Emirates airplane and the benefits and high class service offered. Start the video around 4.15 to get straight to the plane itself.