The president of Icarus Jet discusses issues impacting the business aviation sector and the use of autonomy
What was your career path to your current role?
I graduated high school in 1995, received my commercial pilot certificate immediately and afterwards became a certified flight instructor. I taught at a local flight school at Dallas Executive airport.
I was promoted to chief flight instructor at Blue Line Aviation, which was renamed Dallas Aircraft Services. I left the chief flight instructor position for a freight operation which lasted a year and a half. I was building my flight experience and flight times under the freight operation when I was hired to fly as a co-pilot on a Beech Jet for a prominent Dallas family. I became the chief pilot for the family flight operations when they upgraded to a Hawker 800-A. After the partners split their operations, I decided to try my skills in the BRIC nations with its massive influx of private aircraft. I was hired as a captain for Essar Group in India on their Hawker 850 XP.
International flying and work became an unending winning streak. Essar gave me vast experience in various other aircraft, like the CL 605 and the Global 6000, with brief stints in Nigeria, Jordan, and Egypt. With my vast experience in flying globally, I started my own trip support and aircraft management company in 2011.
What are the best and less favorable elements of your job?
The world is my oyster. I have friends from every corner of the world, and the fact that someone paid me to see the world makes me giggle. My least favourite part is that I was away from my children, and that time spent away from them is irreplaceable.
How do you stand out from your competitors?
While the industry is marching toward AI and automation, Icarus Jet is empowering humans in symbiosis with current technology, which is highly effective and leaves a trail of genius. When you ask for trip support, jet charter or aircraft management, we will use humans – to phone calls, to educate clients, to engage with clients, to converse with our human clients. We are not cutting out human labour and having the end user rely on an App or AI, but using a human to solve the human problems that may arise.
For example, suppose you get a flat tire at an airport in Egypt. In that case, we are not going to send you a sad emoji. Instead we will contact our boots on the ground and get the main wheel cleared through Egyptian customs. We will find you a qualified mechanic while the flight dispatchers re-validate overflight permits and extend the over-nights at a safe hotel. None of our clients ever talk to an automated voice message or an automated anything. We remain vigilant throughout your journey.
What is the most significant trend currently affecting the business aviation sector?
Trending since the pandemic is the influx of new buyers and newcomers to jet ownership and jet charter. Around 30% of the private aircraft sold were to first time buyers and more than 40% of chartered jets were chartered by first time buyers. This is very exciting for the industry and at the same time very scary. Aircraft ownership and jet charter are a steep learning curve where the intrinsic value is hard to uncover. The industry is loaded with demand, and it is trying to match that with supply. We hope that not too many first-time buyers / owners find out that their itinerary is not worth the operating / charter cost.
What does the future hold for Icarus Jet?
The future is bright for us at Icarus Jet Management. Together as a healthy company we plan on emboldening an industry where my 7 year-old daughter has the same opportunities as that of my 10 year-old son.