We humans like to believe that the laws of nature don't apply to us, but certain facts are immutable. And one of those facts that we seem to struggle with most desperately and with the most futility, is the simplest: Things change.
Things might go along for a while, and seem stable and reliable but then, stuff happens. A hurricane hits, a war starts, a market spirals out of control, an economy starts to sink. As hard as we keep trying to predict the future, or foresee the impacts of our decisions, the fact is, the future is pretty unpredictable.
Right now, things are changing, not many people saw it coming, and business aviation is taking a hit. And while we all know that business aircraft can be a tremendous asset to a company, it's hard to convince the masses that all those flights to the Super Bowl, and the golf tournaments, and the weekend house, and to pick up the kids at college, really are for the benefit of the company's bottom line.
Now Citigroup has canceled an order for a brand-new Falcon jet, bending to pressure from the new Obama administration. NBAA was quick to respond with a defense of the value of corporate jets, but right now it seems that any company taking federal bailout money had best be ready to justify its flight department as a hard-working asset, not simply a perk for those in the corner offices.
Here's where Darwin comes in. This year is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, so we're hearing a lot about his work and ideas. And one of his more famous quotes applies to our situation today: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."
Things are changing fast in the aviation world. And those most likely to survive -- even thrive -- in these new conditions are those who can react, respond, and adapt. This is not the end of business aviation, by any stretch of the imagination. But it could be a turning point when change will force the species to evolve, and in the end, it will emerge in a new form, better adapted to its new environment.