April 10, 2012, issue of 'Flight School Business' newsletter
Fake advisory circular sent to simulator customers
A document faked to look like an FAA advisory circular sent to Redbird Flight Simulation customers, and possibly others, says that customers must be aware of software licensing agreements and that their simulator may not be valid as a result. In response to the document, Redbird Chairman Jerry Gregoire sent a scathing letter to customers that accuses employees or representatives of Precision Flight Controls of being the source of the document. Gregoire, who said he was embarrassed for the industry and sent the response to help calm customers, wrote in the letter that, “This latest ‘dirty trick’ is just one in a long line produced over the last few years by an employee or employees of Precision Flight Controls, one of our competitors located in Sacramento, California.” Read more >>
Sennheiser launches ‘Live Your Dream’ training scholarships
For anyone who has ever dreamed of flying, headset maker Sennheiser wants you to Live Your Dream by applying for one of eight $1,500 scholarships. The Live Your Dream program was started as a way to increase the pilot population, reduce student dropouts, and better connect flight schools and students, said Christian Pulm, Sennheiser’s head of marketing and strategy. The company received more than 100 applicants for last year’s program, which awarded $1,000 to seven student pilots. Read more >>
King Schools introduces FIRC
King Schools has developed a new flight instructor refresher course aimed at risk management and other nontraditional FIRC topics. “Typical FIRCs cover thrust, lift, weight, and drag,” said King Schools Co-chairman John King. “This FIRC is designed to review the issues that will result in a life or death outcome.” There are a number of broad topic categories: identifying and changing at-risk behaviors, coaching pilots to avoid deviations, conducting a meaningful flight review, teaching icing survival, making airworthiness easy to understand, airspace, preparing your student for the practical test, the benefits of the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) and the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) program, and things you need to know about the TSA. Read more >>
AOPA kicks off national Keep ’em Flying Challenge
While AOPA has numerous initiatives under way to grow the pilot population and support general aviation flying, the most visible over the next few months is the Keep ’em Flying Challenge, which provides a series of rich prizes to GA pilots who get out and fly this summer. According to AOPA President Craig Fuller, AOPA’s national challenge is patterned off of a similar state challenge conducted last year in Georgia by the Georgia Air Challenge, which was hosted by the Atlanta Aero Club. That project had 308 participants who flew an estimated 1,500 hours from July 1, 2011, through Aug. 12, 2011. Steve Champness, president of the Atlanta Aero Club, felt the Georgia effort could be expanded, and worked with AOPA to create the national challenge. Read more >>
Give customers the 411
How many times have you eaten at a restaurant where under the price column all the items on the menu said, “Depends”? It’s such an unusual situation the prospect is almost funny. Yet that’s the first thing most of us say when a customer asks how much it costs to learn to fly. Reduce the barriers to buying, and help your customers understand the full picture with these simple strategies. Read more >>
Recruit and keep the best talent with simple retirement plans
Yes, it may seem crazy to offer retirement plans to a CFI corps whose average age is 25. But as part of a larger benefit package, or even as a sole benefit, it may be the piece of the puzzle that keeps them with your school. Thanks to a little-known government plan, it’s actually quite easy to set up a program as well. Read more >>
Learning Curve: Innovation comes to the rental market
Insurance mandates make renting aircraft a tricky business at times. Rod Rakic, an aviation social media guru, has come up with a new concept to make rentals easier for everyone involved. Called OpenAirplane, the business model is all about helping pilots get easier access to aircraft, and hopefully bring flight schools and FBOs business as a result. Read more in this issue’s post in the Learning Curve blog. And don’t forget to submit your own story and share great ideas with the rest of the industry.
The concept of a fixed price for the private pilot certificate and other flight training courses is gaining traction in the industry. We want to know how many schools offer this type of arrangement. Tell us in this issue’s poll >>
Last time we asked what changes proposed in the FAA’s NPRM on first officer qualifications will impact you and your business the most. Here are the results.
Want fries with that?
As a professional, well-educated flight instructor, sales is beneath you, right? If this is the way you think, it’s likely one of the reasons your schedule isn’t full. Sales is an integral part of every flight school, and all employees share the responsibility. The best part is that when you think of what sales really is, the process can be fun, rewarding, and not that different from instructing, Jeppesen’s Senior Manager of Aviation Training Julie Filucci explains. Read more >>
Is your school an inviting place to be? The next time you walk into the front door, think like a customer: Is it well lit and open? Are people smiling and talking to each other? Are there comfortable places to sit? Furthermore, does your school present the image you want it to? Little things such as the appropriate selection of furniture, the right magazines, and the right things for sale say wonders about your business. Adding a second-hand couch may be right for some schools, and for others it could make the place seem like a relic. Get some advice from people you trust on this subject. Even a little free tweaking can make a difference.
Reduce the mid-air nightmare
Sometime during the flight training process pretty much every student will let his true feelings be known when he asks how it is that you don’t hit other airplanes. The truth is that most students—and not a small number of certificated pilots—are afraid of being involved in a mid-air collision. And why not? They are unexpected and don’t often work out well for the occupants. But when you look at the numbers, it seems our fear is somewhat unjustified. The chances of actually touching another airplane in flight are pretty small. Read more >>
Editor: Ian Twombly
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