Cactus Fly-In, Casa Grande AZ

Every year in Arizona is the Cactus Fly-in which is one of the largest events in the city of Casa Grande AZ air show and fly-in, which is always well attended and a huge success. The event seems to be growing every year, much busier this year than last year even though general aviation has suffered due to 9-11. It is events like this that help us promote our general aviation business sector in the United States.

The weather was great this year, not too hot and no rain. We are seeing a recovery in general aviation after many companies, especially FBO at smaller airports were forced out of business. Sure many of these services will be replaced, but the all in one type aviation services business will be tough, airport flight schools may opt out of other type services and concentrate on what they are good at and what is most profitable. We may see less bundling of services due to costs and outsourcing of other services such as aircraft washing which requires an extra lineman to do washing services on call.

There will be other small businesses fulfilling these niches thus a cost savings to the FBO (Fixed Based Operator). In airport business magazine in Feb there was an article discussing the plight of the FBO. Those FBOs still in business will need to hire niche companies so they can continue to bundle services for aircraft owners and chief pilots of corporate aircrafts and collect a small fee for finding these other smaller companies additional work.

In many cases such a strategy can save the FBO in increasing insurance costs. Let us take aircraft washing for instance by hiring an aircraft washing service, as it saves them on their insurance policies, whose agents typically would rather not attach a rider policy for aircraft washing since most underwriters are against washing due to problems associated with water entering fuel tanks accidentally or water freezing pitot tubes or static ports. Also common are electrical problems or avionics failures due to water entering where it shouldn't causing or attributing to a crash. Although there have not been too many NTSB findings where washing procedures cashed a crash, several have attributed to the comedy of errors usually associated with crashes, a multiplying of problems which eventually causes a crash. A separate company specializing in aircraft washing will have its own washing procedures and can help aviation safety with regards to washing.

The FBOs are adjusting their strategic marketing plans to meet the financial challenges in general aviation. Fly-ins and air shows like the Cactus Fly-In is a way all of us can show our support for our general aviation business sector. Think on it.

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