Date posted: 23/01/2017 3 min read

Five business reasons for getting a pilot's licence

Five reasons that make getting a private pilot licence a good business decision

In brief

  • Aviation and business are often intertwined
  • By flying themselves, business people get there quicker, ahead of competitors, and avoid downtime at airline terminals
  • Flying is a discipline, and discipline suits the business mind

Just like a ‘CA’ for chartered accountant, the designation ‘PPL’, for a private pilot licence carries a certain prestige. People know it is not as easy qualification to obtain, so it engenders respect.  

Aviation and business are often intertwined. Should business people add a PPL to their qualifications? Here are five business reasons that make getting your wings plane sense.

1. Make the impossible, possible

With limited airline services, it can be operationally impossible for business people to get to all the locations they need to, by scheduled carrier and motor vehicle, when they need to.  

Examples include an Australian supplier to Bunnings Warehouse, required to visit every store, every year; a livestock buyer purchasing cattle from interstate stations, thousands of kilometres apart; a pastor visiting isolated ‘flocks’; or an engineer servicing remote outback mining airfields. With a pilot licence, people can make their own schedule.  

Case study: A doctor who now flies, rather than drives, himself to outback clinics, saves two weeks driving, every quarter. He can now visit multiple distant locations in one day, and be home every evening with his family.

2. Competitive advantage

In business, time, and timing, are money. By flying themselves, business people get there quicker, ahead of competitors, and avoid downtime at airline terminals. It is also easy to reach General Aviation airfields, meaning your itinerary is not restricted to the locations of major airports.  

Case study: A businessman sells items for racetracks all over Australia and New Zealand. By flying himself, he gets there ahead of the competitors, and more often. By the time competitors arrive, via the airlines and rental cars, he has been and gone with the orders.

3. Opportunity cost

Executives and their advisors are paid a lot, because they can generate huge returns.  

Whenever the value of the lost opportunity from executives not being able to get where they need to be, when they need to be there, exceeds the cost of flying themselves, it’s time to get a pilot licence, and or an aeroplane.  

This is why billionaires use corporate jets. However, where the above equation applies, anyone in business should also consider learning to fly.

4. It clears the mind

Flying is a discipline, albeit not an onerous one. Discipline suits the business mind – it’s intensely relaxing and rewarding.  

Operating an aircraft requires a level of concentration such that you have no time to think of anything else. This clears the mind of any other worries.  

Despite what many think, with today’s modern aircraft, flying is easy and safe. Some light aircraft, such as the immensely popular Cirrus SR22 come with their own emergency parachute system.

5. Up where you belong

It’s rare to meet the heads of large corporations. But flying offers many such opportunities.  

Case study: Charles Gunter, former commercial airline captain, and director of Avia Aviation at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne, recalls flying a customer to Deniliquin, a small town in the Riverina region of New South Wales.  

“In the tiny terminal were three CEOs of billion-dollar companies, including one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains. My customer struck up a conversation with one of them. Business cards and contact information were exchanged. Much business eventuated from this ‘chance’ meeting,” said Gunter.  

Pilots meet an incredibly wide array of other people, from all walks of life, that enrich both their business and private lives. 

Time and cost

Depending on where, and the aircraft you train in, it will typically cost about $15,000 to gain a PPL. In the US there are intensive 10-day courses for the required 40-hour minimum flight time and exams. However, it’s more common to spread it out over six to 12 months.  

The standard for flying and the theory exams on subjects like weather, air law, principles of flight, navigation, and aircraft systems is high, but not so high that an average person who applies themself cannot reach.  

Where flying is genuinely business related, it will be tax deductible. Getting started is easy. Just look up your local aero club or flying school. Organise a trial flight with the chief flying instructor and ask the instructor any questions you have about learning to fly.  

Be careful though – before you know it you might be in possession of not only a PPL but also your own aircraft too.