William “Bill” Quinn 

Chairman, Aviation Management Systems, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Managing Partner, Charleston Aviation Partners, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

                                                                       

While serving as a U.S. Navy crew chief on the Sikorsky H-34 and Bell UH-1 in the Vietnam war, the New Hampshire native got lots of stick time during maintenance flights. Shortly after leaving the service he obtained his private fixed wing license and then, after demonstrating his mastery to an FAA examiner, was awarded a rotary wing rating without ever receiving any formal helicopter flight training. He co-founded a charter and aircraft management outfit in Manchester, New Hampshire, and years later accepted an offer from Wang Laboratories to serve as its director of aviation and chief pilot, which put him in the left seat of the company Gulfstream III. After three years there he returned to the charter and management world. Soon realizing  that providing aviation consulting to banks, assessments for insurance underwriters, and finding aircraft for buyers was more to his liking, he’s done that through AMS ever since. In addition, in 2005 he set up his aircraft brokerage near his part-time home outside Charleston.

​What new trend do you see in aircraft ownership?

Quinn: Younger, wealthy people are getting into business aviation. They know what they don’t know, and some learned that the hard way by getting burned with a previous aircraft. I tell them if they want to own, let’s talk about the real costs before you see the big bills coming in. They also want to know everything, to micro-manage. They’ll ask why do we have to do this maintenance? What are the alternatives? Can we get used parts or do they have to be new? I think we’ll be seeing more of that going forward. Older high-net-worth individuals tend to trust our judgment and experience and are much easier to work with.

Is an older aircraft with a low price a good investment?

Quinn: A 10-year-old aircraft is OK if it has the technology to go for another 10. Keep in mind, though, that Rockwell Collins and Honeywell have stated they will not support old technology. And if you plan to conduct transoceanic flights, you’ll need to meet the FANS or NextGen and future regulatory requirements when it comes to avionics. ADS-B and CPDLC are already requirements in some countries. Updates can be expensive. Upgrading a Falcon 2000EX to an EASy II configuration is a $1 million proposition. Making a business jet ADS-B and CPDLC capable easily costs up to $100,000 or more.

Your assessment of maintenance protection programs?

Quinn: I’m a big fan. Honeywell’s MSP, Pratt’s ESP, Rolls-Royce’s Corporate Care, JSSI’s Tip-to-Tail and now Vector Aerospace’s VMAX program for the JT-15s — I believe in them all. Same with the airframe and avionics protection. With them, costs become predictable. Without, you can be in for a shock. For example, a flight display failure can cost $35,000 or more to fix and replacing a failed network interface card can run $25,000 or more. And aircraft that are enrolled are seen as more desirable. While many people say they’ll spend 10% more to remain in the programs, I don’t necessarily believe that.

What are the red flags in selecting a used aircraft?

Quinn: An aircraft with poor or missing records. One with a damage history. Also, an aircraft that’s out of phase in its maintenance. Where it was maintained matters, too. It’s a common belief that a high-time aircraft is less desirable, but that’s really dumb. If you fly more, more maintenance results. These aircraft are designed to last a long time. It’s cycles that matter most — pressurizing the cabin, starting and shutting down the engines. Keep in mind a lot of engine components are cycle limited. So, I’d buy a 10,000-hr. aircraft with 2,500 cycles before I’d buy a 2,500-hr. aircraft with 10,000 cycles.

And the No. 1 mistake made in aircraft selection?

Quinn: Buying more airplane than necessary. A G550 has an eight-passenger range of about 6,700 nm and a Global 6000 can go 6,100, but most long-range flights are 5,100 to 5,200 mi. or less. They don’t use the range, yet they buy things for 15% of the flying they actually do. We had one client set on a GIV-SP when a Challenger 605 would have done the job. And the CF34s are 35 to 40% more efficient than operating Tays, particularly if your flights are less than 2.0 hr. That just doesn’t make any sense.