Home Linda Baker's Blog Aircraft maintenance business flies higher

Aircraft maintenance business flies higher

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Friday, June 15, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

Airplane BlogThis past winter, writer Jon Bell wrote an OB article about the heavy-lift helicopter industry, noting that Oregon companies accounted for an astonishing 85 percent of the industry worldwide. I recently chatted with Bruce Bennett, owner of Aurora Aviation, in connection with another segment of the state’s aviation industry: corporate charter flights and sales.  His brief company and industry update focused on the impact of the recession, the shift from sales to maintenance, and the slow economic recovery.

First, said Bennett, the high-end jet market “has just been devastated.”  Back in the day, when properties in Bend were doubling for years in a row, the same thing was happening with business jets, he says, recalling a five-year waiting list for a $65 million plane.

Not today. As the market was tanking, Bennett brokered a jet purchase for $5 million. Five years later, he brokered the same company out of that plane—for $1.3 million.  “And that was top dollar.”

Having hit bottom, the market is starting to improve. Industrywide, "prices are still down but airplanes are moving,” Bennett says.  “Three years ago, I’d run an ad and have to check the phone number to see if it was correct.”

In addition to brokering sales, Aurora Aviation operates six departments, including charter, refueling, maintenance, and a flight school. The charter business was hit the hardest.  As that sector begins to recover, Bennett has shifted away from business jets that flew nationwide to more economical, propeller-driven planes that serve local areas.

Rising fuel costs have made operating planes more expensive while boosting performance for the refueling division, Bennett says. Meanwhile, industrywide a steady decline in airplane manufacturing is shifting the industry toward maintenance of existing fleets. To meet demand, Aurora recently hired a director of company maintenance and will likely hire more employes in that division, Bennett says.

“That’s where I’ve moved my company focus."  Because demand for maintenance is increasing, Aurora is growing in a flailing economy, he said.

Not that the numbers haver returned to pre recession highs. In 2007, Aurora grossed $4.5 million and employed 27 people. In  2011, the company was a $3 million operation. The company currently employs 16.

Oregon’s charter industry isn’t a national or international driver like the heavy-lift helicopter business, says Bennett. “We’re certainly behind California with its busier and higher population."  The business is marked by an "unusual" and friendly kind of collaboration, Bennett addds. 

"No matter how many airplanes you have, there’s a day when you don’t have any. And no matter how small your fleet is, there’s a day it’s sitting. Customer service is everything. Competitors always work together.”

Despite the challenges, the recession is often framed as a golden age for collaboration and maintenance of existing possessions/inventory.  In that context, Aurora and other aviation operators might be considered poster children for post-recession business strategy.

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Bruce Bennett
0 #1 PresidentBruce Bennett 2012-06-28 21:00:22
Linda, Thank you for the informative article! Please relay our facebook site so your readers can become fans and follow our daily flights and student accomplishments.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aurora-Aviation/89530754494
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...

How to handle the unexpected

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 28, 2014
03.28.14 thumb disasterBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...

Tech makes the world go round

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, March 20, 2014
03.20.14 thumb internetBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

I don’t think anyone can (or should) remember what it was like to get things done without the internet. This milestone in technology has certainly benefited brick-and-mortar companies and subsequently launched a new era of businesses.


Read more...

Car ignition recalls and lean product design

Contributed Blogs
Friday, April 11, 2014
04.11.14 thumb gm-gettyTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.


Read more...

Q & A with Chuck Eggert

News
Thursday, March 06, 2014
03.06.14 thumb pacfoodsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

The founder of Pacific Foods talks about why his company has flown under the radar in Oregon, how saving a family-run chicken hatchery has helped his bottom line and why he thinks organic food is anything but elitist.


Read more...

Barrister bands

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4691BY LINDA BAKER

An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS