Before I began flying, I had the advantage of witnessing my father’s experience as an Air Force fighter pilot, first with collateral duties and then with what one might term as dual-duty. Now with thirty years aviation and 13,000 hours myself, I conclude that the answer to the question posed depends on the needs of the operation and the capabilities of the individuals involved.
Aviators are individuals, just as the purest business professionals; some want to only fly, fly-on, serve, or fix aircraft, just as some people only want to sell, keep books or work supply chain. The higher level question here is, “what does the operation need?” This need will differ not just from charter to private or airline operations. It will differ from company to company. The size of operation will not simply provide the answer either. For if the operation is small, dual duties may be the way of life. Then again, some smaller operations my be best suited to have individual duties until the scale of the operation lends to crossover.
This dilemma is no less than a strategic decision for senior leadership. It may even be deemed philosophical, or one of corporate culture. Whatever the case, true initial analysis must be preformed by the decision makers and reconsidered over time. With that, you might find that flexibility with your stance may lend to optimizations that will benefit your bottom line. Simple exclusion of the opinion of front line people has long been proven to be short-sighted. In this case, ignoring aviator input on topics other than flying of the aircraft, is no different.
Often times your aviators are the first representatives of your company. They can also be the first level of security or security breach (privacy). One other aspect that astonishes me, is that many aviators have served in the airlines yet are segregated from those making airline use decisions for a company. This is crazy, to me. Do you think that booking agents are a better source than aviators when it comes to certain airline’s reputations for safety? Many companies fly with whomever the booking party puts them on and never consults their own aviators.
Ultimately, senior leadership needs to decide what poses to provide the most benefit to the company. For those of us in “business”-aviation, I challenge you to integrate your aviation operation into the rest of your company. You use business aviation, not to “save money,” “but to make your company much more money than using business aviation costs you.” This is a very important point. It will help you gain an appropriate perspective. Getting the over-arching value of business aviation relative to your bottom line, will put the costs in a more fitting perspective. Then, for example, having your expensive aviators join your sales team training, will seem appropriate and affordable.