With Signs Pointing to a Post-Pandemic Pilot Hiring Surge,
Richmond Executive Aviation Joins LifeStyle Aviation Partner Network
Richmond, VA (July 13, 2021) – One of the country’s newest flight schools – LifeStyle Aviation Network Partner Richmond Executive Aviation at Chesterfield Airport in Central Virginia – opened its doors this month with a message for the aviation industry: Airlines are no better prepared to meet surging demand for qualified first officers today than they were before the global Covid crisis began.
In other words, the pilot shortage is back with a vengeance.
“Airlines really were saved by Covid because hiring before the pandemic already was beyond capacity,” said Mark Hackett, the founder and CEO of Richmond Executive Aviation. As a former Airbus captain, Hackett had a front-row seat for the industry’s predicament when he served on the hiring committee at his former employer, JetBlue Airways.
“At JetBlue, we needed to adjust our hiring standards as the pilot shortage worsened,” Hackett said. “Today, many people think the airlines have two years before the pilot shortage becomes a problem again,” he said. “They don’t. Time is up.”
To address what he sees not just as a looming threat to the industry but also an opportunity to meet a critical need, Hackett took action. He formed Richmond Executive Aviation with a goal of training students to become the ideal future airline pilots.
This meant developing a specialized approach to pilot training: using a curriculum centered around airline-style thinking, including a focus on teaching cockpit resource management, the use of automation tools, and adherence to cockpit flows from the very first flight lesson.
And it’s all designed to turn out better, safer pilots, in a time frame that’s faster than the flight schools of the past.
“The way we did it 50 years ago no longer works when it comes to training the pilots of tomorrow,” Hackett said. “Flying in circles in a ratty old trainer for 1,500 hours does not automatically make for a safe airline pilot.”
To meet the goal of developing better professional and private pilots alike, Richmond Executive Aviation joined the LifeStyle Aviation Partner Network of flight schools: promoting access to modern private aviation solutions, including the technologically advanced single-engine Diamond DA40 and jet-fuel-burning DA40 NG for primary and advanced flight training.
The launch of Richmond Executive Aviation was three-plus years in the planning and development, with operations officially beginning in the company’s newly constructed facilities on June 1, 2021. The all-new FBO at Chesterfield Airport, a reliever airport for Richmond International Airport, offers fueling, storage, maintenance, aircraft management and the operation’s “crown jewel:” flight training featuring modern Diamond Aircraft.
“Our Partner Network of flight training centers provides today’s busy pilots with access to the safest and most technologically advanced aircraft in the world,” said John Armstrong, President of LifeStyle Aviation, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. “All our Network Partners flight schools are growing and expanding as they benefit from the competitive advantages of providing the very best in training in modern aircraft. The focus is to help new pilots reach their goals quickly, safely and efficiently.”
As flight training at the school begins in earnest this month, Hackett said the next area of focus will be growing the Diamond aircraft fleet through what are called “leasebacks.” This approach to aircraft ownership provides the ability for a pilot to enjoy a modern aircraft, while using the income from the lease to help pay for its ownership. The owner can often enjoy significant tax advantages as their airplane is used by the flight school to train students.
The LifeStyle Aviation Network now includes more than 20 flight center network partners that refer to themselves as “Dream Centers” because they are not limited to just providing flight lessons, but also to working with each client to help them tailor a pathway to achieve their personal travel and freedom goals.
The scope of options through the Network includes a broad range of solutions including early stage aircraft acquisition with “executive training approaches” that allow businesspeople to acquire aircraft they use immediately as they are learning to pilot them.
Visit Richmond Executive Aviation at 7521 Airfield Drive, Richmond, VA 23237 or go to richmondexecutiveaviation.com.