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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gateway Jets Brings the World of Aircraft Management to St. Louis, Part One: Why Aircraft Management?

By Carmelo Turdo an aircraft is a big responsibility, and utilizing it effectively is an even bigger challenge.  The rewards can be great, though, when the aircraft operations are entrusted to an aircraft management company that always has the owner's best interests in mind.  St. Louis area aircraft owners can have that peace of mind when entrusting locally-based Gateway Jets to manage their personal or business aircraft.

Josh Vinson (L) and Corey Tomczak
In advance of the upcoming Gateway Jets Open House to be held at St. Louis Downtown Airport March 25, The Aero Experience met with company President Corey Tomczak and Vice President Josh Vinson, both experienced corporate pilots who fly all the aircraft under management.  We wanted to learn more about aircraft management and how Gateway Jets serves the St. Louis area aviation community.

"Our business is to provide a mission-ready, safe, clean aircraft while looking out for our client's best interests," Tomczak said, noting that this mission statement is posted for all to see on the company's web site, and thus, they are accountable for living up to that standard.  "We take care of the whole operation so that they (aircraft owners) can just arrive and fly knowing that their aircraft is in good hands."  Gateway Jets serves St. Louis Downtown Airport and Spirit of St. Louis Airport, and manages all aspects of the flight operations, including scheduling, cleaning, maintenance inspections and contracts, fueling, crew assignments, FAA regulatory compliance and more.  Aircraft may be stored at the owner's hangar, at Spirit of St. Louis Aero Charter hangar or in the newly available Gateway Jets hangar that will be the site of the March 25 Open House.  

Managed Cirrus and King Air
Gateway Jets has six crew members available, staffed three per aircraft for maximum flexibility to serve client scheduling needs.  Currently, three aircraft are under direct management and another is crewed by Gateway Jets pilots.  Crews rotate to fly the aircraft as scheduled through an online application, and Tomczak expressed confidence that the aircraft owners have grown to trust each of the crew members.  "It's a personal relationship between the crew and client.  I am confident that all the crews I provide are great pilots and will interact well with the client."  Vinson added, "We have set up standardization for all pilots going through training and for developing customer relations skills."  These efforts have resulted in excellent availability rates and customer service that are key to a successful aircraft management business.

Tomczak and Vinson approach aircraft management with a nuanced perspective.  "We started this company, Gateway Jets, back in 2013 with the whole idea of providing an alternative way of providing aircraft management," Tomczak noted.  "Most companies do fractional or jet card programs, and when you dig deeper, those aren't necessarily the best solutions for the client.  So we just do straight aircraft management, and we specialize in the most efficient aircraft in each category: Beechcraft Baron, Socata TBM single-engine turboprop, the King Air 90, 200 and 350, as well as the Citation 5 (500 Series) aircraft.  That way it covers all spectrums of the checkbook while providing the clients with different missions."  Custom management options, such as with the Cirrus pictured above, are also available.  

By focusing on the leading aircraft in each class, Gateway Jets can help current or prospective aircraft owners best meet their business and personal travel needs.  Customer consulting is one way Tomczak and Vinson add value to their services.  "I enjoy taking clients from step one," Tomczak explained.  "They'll come to me with a mission, an intended budget.  We analyze their mission, help them find a plane, and once they have the plane we help them put a program in place that suits their budget as far as supplying pilots, maintenance and other services.  Specializing in those four lines of aircraft (Baron, TBM, King Air and Citation) really helps us to become experts in each category."            

"Corey does a great job analyzing the customer's mission and what plane best suits the customer's needs," Vinson related.  "Maybe they're in the market initially to solve their travel problem, and Corey can put together a program showing this is what your fixed costs may be for Aircraft A, Aircraft B and Aircraft C so they can get an idea of where you pay a certain amount of money and travel X-amount of times."  The result of the consultation is a cost-effective, practical plan for providing for the air transportation needs of the client.

In many cases, an aircraft management company can turn a good business into a great business by providing direct, cost-effective air transportation to where the next big deal will be struck or to visit with regional site managers.  Knowing that your aircraft is well maintained, stocked and crewed takes much of the stress away from using the aircraft as an asset and not a liability.  In Part 2 of this series, to be posted next week prior to the Gateway Jets March 25 Open House, The Aero Experience will continue our discussion with Corey Tomczak and Josh Vinson about the Gateway Jets style of aircraft management and the future plans for their St. Louis Downtown Airport operations.       

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