With a backdrop of 20 private jets, business executives and aviation experts discussed how private aviation can help some companies operate more efficiently at the second annual Business Aviation Expo on Thursday at the Oakland County International Airport.
More than 200 people attended the daylong event in Waterford Township, which included private aircraft tours; remarks by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson; breakout sessions focused on fractional ownership and aircraft leasing; and a panel discussion.
Attendees were offered the opportunity to tour planes such as Corporate Eagle’s Falcon 2000, a 10-seat plane that can achieve speeds of 529 mph and reach cruising altitudes of 47,000 feet. Also on display was the Gulfstream G650, a twin-engine jet that can reach speeds of about 650 mph.
Over the roar of airplanes taking off, KC Crain, executive vice president and director of corporate operations for Crain Communications Inc., moderated a panel with Ryan Maibach, president of Southfield-based Barton Malow Co.; Scott Schoeneberger, director of marketing for Bluewater Technologies in Southfield; and Robert Schulte, president and CEO of Rochester Hills-based Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering Inc.
The three executives agreed that private aircraft is a sound investment for their companies because it makes travel for their employees more convenient and efficient.
“It’s an extension of the office,” Maibach said. “We’ll schedule meetings on the plane because Wi-Fi is such a mainstay, and it’s easy to coordinate, do work and it’s quiet.”
Schoeneberger said Bluewater Technologies executives were originally nervous about getting into private aviation because of its elitist stigma, but they found it to be a “team-building activity” because their employees were in the air for a significant amount of time with their co-workers, and they could spend that time brainstorming.
Schulte, who owns and pilots his own plane, recommended that those interested in getting into private aviation start with chartering a plane, then working up to quarter ownership or total ownership.
There is a wide range of costs to charter or own an airplane. For example, to charter a midsize plane that seats up to nine people through Pentastar Aviation, which is based at Oakland County International Airport, prices range from $2,700 to $4,000 per hour. To lease a hangar at the airport costs $250 per month for a 40-foot-long hangar to $380 per month for a 48-foot-long space.
A new Falcon 2000 jet costs about $25 million to purchase.
Also Thursday, Oakland County International Airport was awarded $5 million by the Federal Aviation Administration to help rehabilitate and strengthen the airport’s Taxiway C.
More than 550 private and corporate aircraft are based at the airport.