|By Carmelo Turdo|
Owning 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.
|(L-R) Corey Tomczak and Josh Vinson|
"It's a personal relationship between the crew and client," Tomczak told The Aero Experience. "I am confident that all the crews are great pilots and will interact well with the client." Chief Pilot Josh 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...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.
Most of the owners working with Gateway Jets are non-pilots or are not rated for the aircraft under management. "Each client is different, and it takes a relationship to be built with them," Corey Tomczak explained. "A few owners like to be completely hands-off - they delegate responsibility 100% and are happy just writing expenses and trusting us to do the work and look after their best interests. Other owners like to be a little more involved, like to see the behind-the-scenes processes and offer input." Some clients need contract pilots, and Gateway Jets has the flexibility to have crews available for fixed terms. Either way, having the ability to arrive when desired at the closest airport to the business or vacation spot, without the crowds and delay experienced with commercial airline travel, in many cases justifies the use of a managed aircraft.
"When you have a third party, you have a check and balance system," Tomczak said. "When getting more complex airplanes, the owners may not realize the associated costs and complexity of the operations. They are usually the ones who sell the airplane eventually." Selling the aircraft, often at a loss, not only wastes money for the owner, but causes the whole aircraft ownership experience to have been a wasted opportunity.Gateway Jets can help prevent that situation. "It's a time and money savings," Tomczak continued. "We can guarantee time and hassle savings by using our experience to do things the correct way. Even with our management fee, they will save money." Part of that savings comes from industry maintenance sourcing and budget forecasting services that greatly reduce the chances of the most common unexpected costs of aircraft ownership.
Case Study: Managing the Citation Mustang
Owning and operating a Cessna Citation jet should be a rewarding experience. What could be better than arriving at your destination in your own aircraft, on your own time, ready to step out and get on with your day? The availability of more affordable and efficient business jets, along with more professional aircraft management and crew options, make this a great time to consider investing in the Cessna Citation model that best fits your needs.
“The Citation Mustang is one of the aircraft that we specialize in," Tomczak told The Aero Experience. "It’s entry-level, it’s economical, it’s accessible, it’s fun." Seating 5 passengers and the pilot, or fewer passengers but more fuel and baggage, it is just the right size for many regional business owners who visit multiple locations on a tight schedule.“The Citation Mustang is a great entry-level jet," Tomczak continued. "Its operational costs are similar to turbo-props, with speeds up to 100 knots faster. It offers a great step up from piston or turbo-prop aircraft without breaking the bank.” Citation Mustangs currently on the market are priced competitively with turbo-prop aircraft and smaller jets, adding to their appeal. The aircraft currently managed by Gateway Jets is a 2013 High Sierra cabin package, and it looks and smells like new.
Being the smallest member of the Citation family does not mean it offers small performance. While sitting in the cabin, Tomczak described the passenger experience. “The Citation Mustang can cruise as high as 41,000 feet in pressurized comfort, above most weather and commercial airline traffic, breathing at cabin altitude of about 8,000 feet much like the airliners. This aircraft is pressurized and quiet, leaving you refreshed upon landing. There is very little jet lag or effects from vibration experienced on propeller-driven aircraft." The Citation Mustang also includes such creature comforts as XM radio, satellite phone, fold-out table, lavatory and refreshment console.
Owning, operating and even flying your Citation Mustang jet, and also running your own business or organization, is not always feasible. That is where Gateway Jets can help. Corey Tomczak and his staff can expertly guide new owners through the purchase process and manage the aircraft's operation, crewing, maintenance and legal compliance.
“Gateway Jets is a company designed to give the client the best experience of owning an aircraft at a reasonable cost," Tomczak explained. “At Gateway Jets, we make sure that you have a mission-ready aircraft without the stress that goes with ownership. Leave the fine details up to us. Your only job is to arrive and fly.”Corey Tomczak showed The Aero Experience around the Citation Mustang, highlighting the jet's safety features, comfortable cabin and modern cockpit. The Citation Mustang's compact size belies the amount of interior space and advanced technology built into the design. This newer member of the highly successful Cessna Citation family includes many of the best features of the series but with lower initial and operating costs.
Climbing into the jet through the wide door is easy using the fold-out steps. Once inside, passengers can pass between the first row and have plenty of room to turn around and pick out one of the four comfortable cabin seats for the flight. This aircraft, the High Sierra Edition, features full leather wrapping and leather stitch package with four-seat club arrangement. The aircraft also features an optional lavatory seat, a refreshment and beverage console behind the crew seats and the optional satellite phone service.
We sat comfortably in the Citation Mustang's cabin. The high quality of the seat leather and interior fixtures was obvious, and visibility out of the windows was excellent. “At 6 foot 2, I am by no means cramped back here," Tomczak said. "It’s a comfortable ride and a quiet environment. It is ultra-quiet – there is no reason to wear a headset. The Citation Mustang has pull-out tables on both sides and XM Radio adapters for the rear seat passengers. One of the key features the passengers like is the XM audio. They can control up to 200 stations on this remote (control), and plug into these headsets and adjust the volume.” Whether the flight is one hour or longer, the trip can be both enjoyable and productive.
From a pilot's point of view, the Citation Mustang is a pleasure to fly. The modern cockpit and Cessna Citation family heritage make pilot training and type rating a smooth process. The large cockpit windscreen and side windows provide exceptional visibility. Corey Tomczak, a veteran pilot of the Cessna Citation series, had high praise for the Citation Mustang. “All Citation Mustangs offer the Garmin G1000 three-screen avionics suite. This makes the pilot’s job simpler and allows the crew to focus on flying the aircraft, monitoring systems and looking out for traffic. The power-plant system is engine-controlled. The pilot sets the throttle and the computers do the rest. The large displays offer great situational awareness.”
The Citation Mustang design includes the best qualities of the Citation aircraft family. Tomczak showed us around the exterior of the jet, pausing in front of the wing. "The Citation Mustang is an all-weather aircraft, equipped with a pneumatic de-ice system on the leading edge of the wing," he explained. "The rubber boots inflate and contract when ice is present, shedding the ice. The engines of the Citation Mustang are heated with bleed air, hot air taken from the engine to prevent ice from forming on the inlet.” These de-ice boots are low maintenance and do not take power away from the engines like bleed air systems on larger aircraft.
Turning to the left engine, he continued, “The Citation Mustang has Pratt & Whitney engines that are electronically controlled, relieving the pilot of some of the management duties while increasing the efficiency of fuel burn.” These engines are very reliable, with an inspection interval of 3,500 hours. He reported using about 90 gallons per hour during flights made with this client.
Climbing into the jet through the wide door is easy using the fold-out steps. Once inside, we took a seat at the rear of the cabin to get a realistic sense of the smoothness and noise level of our flight. There is a feeling of being in a larger jet when viewed from rear to front towards the cockpit. The overhead lights and air conditioning vent are well-positioned for use by each passenger. Startup, and the all-important flow of cold air to the cabin, was quickly executed by our experienced crew.
The takeoff roll used only about 1500 feet of runway. Climb rate was maintained at 2,500 feet per minute at 180kts. by the autopilot in flight level change mode. Tomczak and Vinson demonstrated the usefulness of the large center multi-function display, showing the navigation and XM Weather graphics that make flying in the Citation Mustang a safe and enjoyable experience for passengers and crew. Our flight took us to 21,000 feet, about halfway to the jet's maximum operating altitude, with the cabin pressure at a comfortable altitude equivalent of 1200 feet. Most flights are flown at around 35,000-38,000 feet, at a cruising speed of 340kts. and with fuel consumption of under 100 gallons per hour. This performance compares favorably with more expensive jets, but at the purchase and operating costs closer to those of a turboprop aircraft.
From the passenger's viewpoint, flying in the Citation Mustang is a pleasant experience, especially when the jet is ready and waiting upon arrival to the airport and the friendly Gateway Jets crew is prepared to go on time. As mentioned above, the cabin is comfortable and practical, and the view is excellent. Flying in the back of the aircraft, near the engines, did not pose any additional noise or turbulence issues whatsoever. The only noise that is heard above the normal conversation on our video was the air blower, which remained on high from our time on the ground. Otherwise, the Citation Mustang has the smooth ride of a heavy jet with the comfort of your living room. Our crew arranged for a pass in front of the St. Louis Gateway Arch as we returned to St. Louis Downtown Airport, and this can be seen on the video of this flight below.
The Aero Experience presents the video of our flight in the Citation Mustang, flown by Corey Tomczak and Josh Vinson of Gateway Jets, here below and on The Aero Experience YouTube Channel. We hope that you enjoy your "flight" aboard this impressive aircraft.
Corey Tomczak is looking forward to a new year of growth, adding more satisfied customers and aircraft to their current operations. Gateway Jets is ready to help with your aircraft acquisition, crewing and operations management needs. Contact Gateway Jets today and put your aviation assets in good hands!