A View from the Northwest

By Jim Lewis, Mente Group’s Managing Director – Western Division

Permit me for a moment to relate the effects of the global pandemic to the aviation/aerospace business…

I think we can all agree that it’s nothing short of astounding how quickly and dramatically our industry has changed, and how our clients’ and colleagues’ lives around the globe have been impacted in ways none of us could have imagined just five months ago.  I have heard from, or spoken to countless colleagues, pilots, Presidents and CEOs across my western region.  Regardless of title or position, their sentiments are largely the same: occasional optimism, buffered a bit with fear, caution and uncertainty.  These emotions are understandable, because the folks that own or operate the equipment of our business are wired (and expected) to acknowledge and minimize what can hurt them.  Although focusing on the negative is not always useful in our personal or private lives, this is a useful skillset to have regarding aircraft.

In the airplane business, our very existence demands focus on performance, expectation, perfection, and flawless execution.  The aviation/aerospace world we live in is one of extreme velocities, temperatures, pressures, extremes, and tolerances.  Airplanes are often the most expensive asset the company owns.  It is the one piece of equipment which can be relied on to solve problems “out there” or “back here” – perhaps now more than ever.  At the same time, everyone who owns or operates business aircraft is expected to accept extremely unforgiving consequences of failure, and unthinkable liability on a scale that few others can imagine.  It is normal and routine for all of us.  The people, equipment, and procedures of this business are designed to make it all look easy.  It’s not.  To be successful here we must all possess and exhibit the same passion.

Now, several months into this new world nothing is assured, and nothing seems predictable anymore.  In the past, we could easily trade speed or altitude, or vice versa.  Now it can seem as if we have neither.   The absolutes and physics we depended on no longer seem to exist.  Worse, there is no tangible, consistent, or logical root cause for the economics affecting our industry.  As a result, there is no procedure, no checklist, and no circuit breaker to reset.  To put it mildly, it is a bit unnerving to all of us.

At Mente, we have made a name for ourselves remaining squarely focused on growing list of “What-Ifs”.  We remain strong and in position to help our clients make sense of the rapidly changing business side with our abilities in trends, planning, strategy, transactions, and operational consulting.  Frankly, we’re quite good at it.  We assuage, mitigate, or prevent trouble in the Business Jet realm.  No consultant/transaction firm is better than ours at fiercely protecting our clients.

As we all navigate through the current environment, we note at least three stages where we continue to be a valuable ally to our clients:

1) Help with Evaluation, as decisions are made regarding how long this will last, what it looks like on the other side, what the mission will look like, and what equipment/personnel will be needed to affect that new mission.

2) Help with Selection, as some missions and aircraft types are down-selected from consideration and a transition plan is put in place.

3) Help with Execution, as those changes are coordinated and implemented.

The transactional element of our business may have waned a bit temporarily, but we have increased our focus on planning, strategy, and our operational consulting projects.  We are a critical resource to lean on for clients and owners looking at right-sizing, downsizing, or eliminating the aviation assets completely. We shine when you get a bit too close to the trees and forget the forest.  Certainly, don’t forget your own forest, but lean on us for the planning, strategy and execution.   We’re brokers…but we’re consultants first.

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