JM Zell Partners
Few companies better understand how to help people operate more productively and efficiently than Steelcase Inc., headquartered in Grand Rapids,Mich. So it’s no coincidence that this global leader in the office furniture industry chose two Dassault Falcon Jets — a large-cabin Falcon 2000 EX and a larger, long-range 900 EX — to enhance revenues and increase productivity. The Falcons, known for conservative fuel consumption, also support Steelcase’s dedication to improving the environment.
While one might think that senior management gains all the flight benefits, at Steelcase, customers and prospective clients have top priority.As many as ten customer groups visit weekly, transported directly to Grand Rapids aboard the company jets. Each aircraft flies about 900 hours annually, twice the industry norm, and typically all ten seats are filled. Does it pay off? You bet. For more than 30 years, Steelcase has attributed overwhelming sales success to these fly-in visits,which have been a major boost to profits and shareholder value.This is a relationships business, says Glenn Jones, director of aviation.“When prospective customers are here, they get a picture of the total quality of the company.”
Schedule demands can take the Falcons to any of thousands of airfields around the nation and abroad.That’s why Jones appreciates the Falcons’ high-tech safety and utility features, as well as their unsurpassed reliability.
With commercial options infrequent, inconvenient and time-consuming, the typical airline trip to Grand Rapids can consume a day. Company research indicates that the time penalty would deter many visits.But the company jets reduce the journey to a productive one- or two-hour flight.“The aircraft can pick passengers up in the morning and have them home that evening,” says Jones,and that allows for a facility tour and a full day of discussions.That’s not the only benefit.“Travel time becomes some of the most valuable time to build relationships in a comfortable,relaxed setting,”Jones emphasizes.“Our aircraft give us a significant business advantage.”
A Jet On Call When And Where You Need It
Well known for stellar aircraft management and charter services, Sentient is the originator of the jet card concept, having introduced both streamlined rates and one-way pricing in addition to a high level of operator consistency not available previously in the charter environment.With more than 3,000 current card members, Sentient is the largest jet card program today, and it is certainly among the elite for service and safety.
Sentient card members pay a fixeddollar amount and then choose between four aircraft categories — light, midsize, large-cabin and extended-range — for each flight based on one-way pricing. Discounted round-trip rates are also available. While all jets used in the program are top quality, for those who prefer to travel on the newest aircraft, Sentient also offers a “Preferred” group of jets at a slightly higher cost.
When trip requirements vary widely in terms of distance and number traveling, the expert Sentient customer service team is there to help you select the most suitable aircraft for your needs, and they can arrange every travel detail from catering to ground transportation and hotel arrangements.
While the Sentient Jet Membership program is great for gaining business aircraft benefits when you don’t own an aircraft, it is also extremely beneficial when you do. An executive of a major U.S. corporation commented that the Sentient jet card was a perfect complement to his company’s permanent fleet — so much so “that we didn’t even consider buying another aircraft.”
Travel Time Equals Productive Time
In the pursuit of profit, productivity is essential, and today’s latest-generation business aircraft are supporting this notion in ways never before imagined. The trend, points out Tim Rayl, Rockwell Collins’ senior director of marketing, is toward greater access to real-time information. It appears that his company is on the leading edge, transforming the business aircraft cabin into a richly productive environment more capable and efficient than many ground-bound offices.
By incorporating the latest voice communications, high-speed broadband data links, airborne local-area wireless networks and live TV, Rockwell Collins’ latest Pro-Line Fusion® literally fuses these technologies into a simple user interface. The result: The business aircraft cabin has morphed into an airborne global office where passengers in any seat can fully control their individual environment, play iPods, phone, fax, and wirelessly exchange laptop data or surf the Web.
Newly launched, Rockwell Collins’ eXchange® utilizes an advanced satellite constellation providing broadband Internet speed and capability that is enviable even on Earth. The scalable, fully integrated technology works as effectively in the smallest entry-level aircraft as it does in global-range jets.
The company’s Airshow 4000 system brings a new dimension of in-flight information to passengers, including real-time moving maps and up-to-the-minute text-based news, financials, sports and weather data from Bloomberg, theWall Street Journal, CNN, Intellicast, ESPN and others.
"I make deals that I probably wouldn't have made before because we can make a decision
right now. Having the plane is not a convenience, it's a necessity"
-Jerrold Rosenbaum Body Shop of America, Inc
Another breakthrough is Rockwell Collins’ next-generation airborne TV. Currently available for the midsize- and large-cabin jets, Rockwell Collins’ Tailwind® service provides worldwide satellite television reception throughout the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.
A Clear View Up Front
On the flight deck, glass cockpits and digital avionics are bringing flight crews a wealth of critical information presented in easily manageable formats. This greatly enhances not only safety but also the utility of aircraft by enabling practical flight in previously prohibitive conditions. Rockwell Collins, for example, literally developed a new way of seeing with its combined Synthetic and Enhanced Vision System. By melding daytime, photo-realistic digital imagery of the real world with realtime infrared views depicting moving and stationery objects on the ground, the system allows pilots to clearly see terrain and obstructions even in darkness and the poorest weather conditions.
Small Jet, Big Promise
A new upsurge of technologically advanced, highly efficient small jets is entering the market, and the promise for the future is huge. These new concepts and even newer technologies continue to alter the realm of personal travel at an astonishing rate. Their level of affordability opens the skies to companies and individuals who may not have considered ownership before, and it enables those with larger jets to supplement their existing fleets economically. In today’s business world, these small jets enhance flexibility and opportunity by directly accessing thousands of small airfields and local communities.
Newcomer HondaJet, for example, has achieved profound levels of innovation with a maverick, overthe- wing engine configuration, which allows for a generously sized cabin with a fully enclosed lavatory — features completely uncharacteristic of the small jet category.
As a result, this new jet has taken the market by storm. First deliveries are slated for 2010. Meanwhile, company designers are continually improving the interior for efficiency, comfort and safety, points out Stephen Keeney, Honda Aircraft Company senior manager for corporate affairs.“We have a great deal of experience designing interiors for automobiles in terms of ergonomics, and we utilized those lessons to build an interior that maximizes the space and functionality for the occupants,” he says. It’s a concept Honda calls “man-maximum, machine-minimum.”
“I saw great potential in the small business market for a low-cost, shortrange small airplane,” explains Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft Company president and CEO. It’s hard to imagine that it all started with a flash of inspiration and a quick sketch on the back of a calendar.
Industry experts said his unconventional, over-the-wing engine mount couldn’t be done, but luckily a defiant Fujino wasn’t listening. Not only does this unique configuration allow for a cabin spacious enough for five passengers and two pilots, but the new shape has also proven to be more aerodynamic. Teamed with newly conceived GE-Honda Aero engines, the allcomposite design achieves unprecedented fuel and operating efficiency.
The new advanced light jet, with a 1,300-mile range, climbs above weather and airline traffic to 43,000 feet and can top 480 mph. Keeney estimates it will be 15% to 20% more fuel efficient than similarsized jets. The promise of performance and economy has attracted well over 100 firm orders.
Dawn Of A New Era
A business aircraft can knock hours off your travel schedule, but getting there faster is just the beginning. Today’s business aircraft are more versatile than ever before. Their new designs, with advanced digital instrumentation providing turbulence, weather, traffic and terrain data, are ensuring the highest levels of safety and functionality. Cabin amenities featuring secure phone lines, DirecTV and broadband Internet access are taking business travelers to new heights.
In one indication of things to come, the mandates of doing business in a global economy are putting emphasis on long-range aircraft. Dassault’s Falcon 7X trijet is the first “fly-bywire business jet,” incorporating all the latest technological advances for enhanced safety, comfort and utility plus the ability to adapt future technology. And with impressive field performance, plus the ability to fly from here to nearly anywhere around the globe with at most one stop, this and other new ultra-long-range jets can put the entire world at your wing tips.
As private aircraft are evolving, so are the access programs. Fractional providers continually enhance their flexibility to meet the demands of sophisticated travelers. Jet card programs have shown remarkable appeal for individualswho place a high value on precious personal time. All things considered, tomorrow’s enlightened business traveler will have the power to configure the perfect air travel solution, customdesigned for changing travel needs.
A business or personal aircraft is one of the most valuable resources available in today’s global marketplace. That means that for tomorrow’s business flyer, it’s no longer a question of whether you can afford a business aircraft, but rather a question of whether you can afford not to have one.
Associate Writers: Shawna Gale
Principal Photography: Paul Bowen
Editor: Allison Lurker