Nobody's ever accused Cessna CEO Jack Pelton of being a shrinking violet and his company's latest ad campaign has his imprint all over it. While companies everywhere cancel business jet orders, strip logos from their existing aircraft and hide them from FlightAware and the FAA registry, he's urging them to be honest about their value and utility.
Now, Pelton has a vested interest in reversing this absurd set of circumstances that has made corporate aviation a symbol for the current economic mess, but he also happens to be right.
He's not just telling corporate America to buy his aircraft. He's telling those at the top to start acting like it and show some leadership in times that desperately need it.
While the Big Three CEOs got the reaction they deserved for their notorious trip to Washington and there have been other well publicized examples of questionable use of corporate aircraft, the fact is they are generally well managed, efficient business tools that are often indispensable to well-run businesses.
What's galling is that the public accepts that, even if grudgingly. Executive time is too valuable to waste taking off belts and shoes (although that may be coming to corporate aviation, too) and most people get it.
So why are companies ditching their planes, or worse, skulking around like thieves in the night trying to shield them from public view?
Do they really believe that no one will notice them flying to Orlando and then driving to the Super Bowl in Tampa? Do they think that shell companies on the FAA registry are fooling anyone? When the company jet touches down in the company town, do they think anyone is going to mistake it for someone else's?
Of course not.
By weaseling around in this fashion, they're making matters far worse and feeding a perception that there is something wrong with what they're doing. Sensible use of a business aircraft is nothing to be ashamed of and it's time those who will lead the country out of this mess were honest with themselves, their customers and their employees about it.