Niall Olver, the outgoing CEO, chairman and founder of the ExecuJet Aviation Group is in the Top 10 as a tribute to his continuous contribution to business aviation. He is leaving the helm of ExecuJet but for the foreseeable future will continue to serve in an advisory capacity to the new company. He plans to stay within the industry. “Just because I’m leaving ExecuJet doesn’t mean I’m leaving the game. I hope I’ve got a few more ventures yet to explore,” he says.

ExecuJet is being incorporated into Luxaviation. Commenting on the sale, Olver said, “It certainly feels like the end of an era, but it’s not the end of the road.”

Luxaviation co-CEO Patrick Hansen plans to consolidate the marketplace. “It is correct and it’s the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time, but we hadn’t the means to do it under our previous shareholder set up,” says Olver. “I fully believe in what he is doing but the devil is in the detail and I’m very excited by what it means for ExecuJet going forward.”

ExecuJet now forms the bulk of the new Luxaviation Group and will have a major hand in future strategy. “I’m excited about it even though it’s the end of an era for me, but it feels like the beginning of a new one for ExecuJet.”

Olver joined ExecuJet shortly after its inception in 1993 after leaving the IT industry. At the start, the company was a small operator of two Learjets in Johannesburg. Today the company has grown globally with FBOs, MROs and aircraft management and charter operations stretching across Australia and New Zealand, through Malaysia and Indonesia to Singapore and on to Tiajin and Beijing. In Africa it has bases at Cape Town, Johannesburg and in Lagos, Nigeria. In the Middle East it has a major operation in Dubai and Istanbul, Turkey. Across Europe the company has 11 bases including one in Moscow, and it also has a presence in Latin America.

What Next Niall? Revive the SPn?

With more time on his hands and a little extra cash in his pocket after the Luxaviation takeover of ExecuJet, retiring CEO, chairman and founder Niall Olver says he’s involved in a number of other aviation ventures that are not competitors for Luxaviation/ExecuJet.

He may get involved with some form of training company. “I certainly don’t see myself joining a large organization, so it will probably be more my businesses or entrepreneurials and I see myself staying in this space – the aviation space.”

As co-owner of Allied Aviation Technologies, which retains the design and brand rights to the SPn carbon fiber utility jet, Olver says, “I’ve now got more time to focus on this and I’m certainly going to as we’ve been approached by a number of plausible parties over the last six months.”

He has been delving back into the program to see how realistic it would be. Improvements in pre-preg carbon fiber techniques have lowered the production risk and improved the weight of the aircraft. “Having looked at it again, the Williams engines are still great and Williams has been very supportive. We can stay with the Apex avionics suite which can be upgraded to the latest standard. With the technology improvement the risk profile to meet certification is very manageable.” 

Olver says the price point of this rough-field performance business jet fits in nicely between Pilatus’s PC-12 and PC-24. “I think if we have the right type of investor the aircraft certainly can hold its own. I think myself and a number of the old team, many of whom are working with me on it, would be required to transition the program. How long that would last would depend on the buyer. A fully-fledged company probably wouldn’t need us, but there are some that might. Suffice to say that enough of the old team are willing, able and ready to go.”

One of the completed SPns is still flying regularly, while a second is not currently in airworthy condition. Two other partly-built airframes and the tooling are stored in Germany.