All posts by Derek Meyer

Every Thousand-Mile Journey Begins with a Single Step

The adage “every thousand-mile journey begins with a single step” resonates with the Shepherd Aero Team as we embark on hundreds of multiple-thousand-mile journeys every year by moving business aircraft around the globe. Each of those journeys starts well before the actual flight, the proverbial first step being the fundamentals of flight planning, and moves from one strategic phase to another as we determine intermediate stops, aircraft performance, crew rest, weather patterns, and above all, any geopolitical issues or international restrictions (anyone ever heard of COVID-19?).

The journey of operating aircraft is akin to any business project, requiring an immense amount of planning and preparation, and also a highly-skilled team to execute the plan. While all of us at Shepherd Aero have a background in aviation, it’s the unique business challenges that each aircraft we operate presents that keeps our team prepared to handle virtually any aviation operational project. From our globally-distributed operations team to our vertically-integrated business model, we are here to solve our clients international aviation problems with creative, efficient, and safe solutions.

Where is your aviation journey taking you next?

Learn more about Shepherd Aero’s services, and contact our team anytime to take your first steps in that journey.

A Shepherd Aero Milestone on a Day of Thanks

As the USA-based Shepherd Aero team celebrates this day of thanks, Thanksgiving 2020, we are grateful for all the family, customers, and friends who have supported Shepherd Aero over the years, especially in such trying times with which we have all been presented since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, we are exceptionally grateful and excited that, as of yesterday, our firm was also able to celebrate a milestone.

With our successful completion of a Gulfstream G150 (pictured above) ferry to the USA last night from Germany, the Shepherd Aero team has completed over 300 international flights across 50 countries since the beginning of the pandemic earlier this year. Shepherd Aero was not immune to the dramatic slowdown in business/revenue this year, but as so many businesses, big and small, have proved in recent months, resilience and persistence are key ingredients to success, whether in the midst of a pandemic or not.

This is a moment for us all around this big globe to reflect on where this year has taken us thus far, and remember that gratitude is not something to be reserved solely for one day a year. We hope to see this post one year from now and be able reflect even further on the growth and lessons learned. Happy Thanksgiving, and cheers to Blue Skies and Tailwinds ahead!

Challenges in International Aircraft Sales

How many times have you considered buying or selling an aircraft in another country and passed it up because it seemed too complex or difficult? If that number is more than zero, then Shepherd Aero is here for you, whether you are an aircraft sales broker, aircraft owner, or an operator looking to expand a fleet.

When it comes to “getting a deal done” in the aircraft sales business, there is no golden key to success. Every airplane is unique, every client requires different items and services, and then add in geopolitical events and financial market conditions, and it’s easy to see that every transaction is a mountain to climb and conquer.

Furthermore, the aviation industry is a global one, and oftentimes, aircraft transactions occur across country borders, across oceans and deserts, and the fact that an aircraft is on the other side of the globe should never deter a buyer, broker, or operator from pursuing that aircraft. Likewise on the selling side, a seller or sales broker should consider buyers from all over the world and not limit sales potential simply because of geographical challenges. But, as the adage goes, that’s easier said than done…

Do any of the following questions sound familiar?

  • Can I buy this airplane on the other side of the world?
  • Can I help someone sell their airplane on the other side of the world?
  • Can I get an airplane from a remote corner of the globe back to my home airport?
  • Can I get an airplane inspected and exported in another country?
  • Can I be certain a foreign-registered aircraft can be registered in my home country?

With Shepherd Aero’s international transaction solutions, we can help you answer with a confident “yes” to any and all of these.

Our Global Turbine Aircraft Ferrying provides an all-inclusive, turnkey solution to move virtually any turbine plane across borders. Our customs import and export processing support means you don’t have to handle any of those small, sometimes forgotten details. And, for non-USA citizens, our Trustee Services allow for short or long term solutions in moving, owning, and/or operating FAA N-registered aircraft.

Best of all, we are a vertically-integrated company, meaning we don’t have to outsource any of the work we offer our clients, from flight planning, to 24/7 dispatch, to customs and immigration coordination, and even aviation regulatory support, we handle everything in-house. That translates to a smooth and straightforward service to you as a client, plus a one-stop-shop approach means you can budget your money confidently from project start to finish, knowing you aren’t missing any expenses.

We invite you to see a catalog of all our services by clicking below.

Shepherd Aero: Here to make your answer “Yes”
when it comes to international transactions.

The Finale of 2020 for Private Aviation

As the sun sets on yet another Quarter of 2020, and the final one begins, the private aviation industry as a whole stands poised to see the most tumultuous year in memorable history for this industry–and world–come to a close with bright signs of recovery and growth.

In April of this year, virtually all operations in our company came to a standstill, and we were not alone. After the huge influx of private flights in March from passengers looking to hunker down for quarantine and lockdown, the phone calls and emails stopped coming in across the industry; no one needed or wanted to travel. However, there were still essential, private flight operations continuing, and our delivery of aircraft across borders and oceans—several of which for medevac operators—were part of that group. One of the biggest contributors to our continued, albeit depressed operations, was our internally developed COVID-19 risk mitigation and testing protocol. Our company Founder, Travis Holland, was insistent that testing was the path forward to reopening borders and flight operations, and now, in October, nearly seven months later, many countries and territories have adopted COVID-19 testing as their own methods to keeping international travel open.

There will always be challenges in operating airplanes–some of the most advanced machines on Earth today–and even our firm, which does this every single day, is learning something new on every single flight we conduct or support. This new, ever-evolving world amidst COVID-19 poses even more hurdles, but we at Shepherd Aero are convinced these hurdles will only prove to be the catalysts of incredible rebuilding, innovation, and growth in our industry.

Whether you are an aircraft owner, lessee, operator, or broker, Shepherd Aero is here to help you conquer the mountains you see in front of you with our suite of services for the private/business aviation stakeholder. Don’t let the hurdles keep you away from private aviation; allow them to be your inspiration.

Our service offerings are described on this page, and each of those services pages detail how you can leverage our extensive operational capabilities to maximize your aviation operations… worldwide.

Shepherd Aero: The Impossible Made Possible. Anywhere on Earth.

The Unintentional, 16-Month Trip Around the World

With the completion this week of a mission from Malaysia to Arizona, USA, this lucky (or perhaps unlucky, depending on who you ask) Citation Mustang made it completely around the globe over the past 16 months.

The journey started back in April, 2019 in South Carolina, when this Mustang sold to a new owner and headed for its new home in Kuala Lumpur under the control of the Shepherd Aero team, piloted by our very own company President, Travis Holland. After a flap failure crossing the North Atlantic, there was an unscheduled pitstop made in Paris, at the Citation Service Center, where their expert work resolved the problem over a long lunch break. Later on, radio communication issues near India made for some interesting, creative, on-the-fly thinking: given the remote route taken, the plane flew out of VHF radio range and had to relay messages to air traffic control via the airliners in the area who had HF radio and were able to talk to ATC. As the cherry on top, the last legs of the trip had weather delays circumnavigating one of the largest cyclones, Cyclone Fani, to hit the Indian Ocean region since the 1990s. Alas, this mighty Mustang and crew made it to Malaysia in early May where the new owner excitedly took delivery.

Fast forward to about a year later in the Spring of 2020, this very same Mustang was destined for another new home in the USA. The problem now? The COVID-19 pandemic had kept the plane grounded due to our foreign-to-Malaysia crew’s inability to enter the country due to border closures. It wasn’t until September that we had another airplane, a Phenom 100, that needed to be moved from Singapore to Switzerland, and this airplane was the Mustang’s ticket out of Malaysia. How? We flew the Mustang crew in the Phenom directly to the Mustang in Malaysia, and the crew stayed “airside”, meaning they did not ever officially enter Malaysia, therefore no restrictions. As a double win, we ended up saving our client and crews several days of quarantine and dollars down the drain by using an existing aircraft trip to reposition the crew.

As the Phenom lifted off the runway in Kuala Lumpur, bound for Europe, the Mustang crew started the engines and began–or, continued, rather–the voyage initiated nearly a year and a half earlier. With Arizona, USA the destination this time, and favorable winds from the west, our crew took off from Malaysia in early September to the northeast towards Vietnam and Taiwan… into the path of yet another massive cyclone, this time Typhoon Haishen in the Pacific Ocean. But, after some route changes to avoid the storm, a mostly uneventful trip ensued through the North Pacific, Alaska, and Canada.

This globetrotting Mustang eventually made it safely and still on time to its Southwestern-USA destination. 503 days, 21,000 miles, two typhoons, and a pandemic later.

At Shepherd Aero, the Impossible is made Possible. Anywhere on Earth.

An Exciting Week for Shepherd Aero

It’s been an exciting week for Shepherd Aero and one of our clients. We added this beautiful Challenger 604 to our managed aircraft fleet, and we’re seeing this is indeed a wonderful time to be investing in private air travel. Thank you to Jetcraft and CFS Jets for providing our client with a top-notch experience, to Wings Insurance for lining up a customized policy in a short timeframe, and to Aviation Tax Consultants for the critical evaluation and creation of the client’s ownership structure.

This airplane was one of Jetcraft’s first to receive the MicroShield 360 antimicrobial treatment applied by F/LIST, proving private aviation remains one of the safest and cleanest ways to travel.

Shepherd Aero offers comprehensive and highly-customizable aircraft management services for aircraft owners worldwide. With our extensive experience in owning and operating aircraft around the globe for the past two decades, we provide a bespoke offering at a fraction of what it costs to run a full flight department. Curious for your own customized proposal? Send us a message here.

On-the-Fly Mission Decisions Over the North Atlantic

In debriefing and reflecting on some recently completed missions, the Shepherd Aero team has been looking at the challenges that can arise without warning when operating aircraft across country borders, and the on-the-fly decisions that must be made collectively to ensure a safe conclusion to every flight.

Shepherd Aero recently brought an aircraft back from Europe to the United States via the North Atlantic, and we had planned for Bangor, Maine to clear U.S. Customs, which is a common stop for private aircraft crossing the North Atlantic due to its ideal location in the Northeast USA. However, in the descent into Bangor, our crew was directed to Burlington, Vermont by air traffic control as Bangor could not accommodate our flight. After our operations and dispatch team spent time working with the customs officer in Burlington, we found out they would not allow us to clear there due to COVID-19 restrictions, so we had to make yet another on-the-fly decision to change the destination again.

This time, it was Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, after running the flight profile, Boston was out of range for this particular leg and aircraft, so we had to re-plan AGAIN to make an overnight stop in Quebec City in Canada. There, our crew had a warm welcome from the local facilities despite our last-minute arrival. Ultimately, the extra stop in Canada was very much needed so both our crew and dispatch team could spend adequate time researching where to clear USA customs and ensure no further deviations.

Boston was still the next stop after a rest overnight in Quebec City. Once our crew finally made it to Boston, just when we thought we were in the clear, we had to deal with paying a fuel and handling bill roughly 4-5 times the cost what it would normally run in Bangor. Wow!

Despite all the challenges, the aircraft made it safely to its destination later that day, still on time AND on budget for our client.

All this to say, without Shepherd Aero’s expert team in control of this challenging mission, the end-result could have been much different. Our firm is here to make our clients’ aviation lives easier while delivering unmatched customer service.

What can we help you with?

In-Aircraft Training During a Pandemic

“To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.”

Not even a worldwide health crisis can keep aviation from pushing forward. The team at Shepherd Aero has been airborne lately with in-aircraft training for a few of our owner-pilot clients. With proven curriculum, we are the only FAA Part 141 HondaJet pilot training course in the world. Plus, with regular COVID-19 testing of both client and instructor, we are paving the way for safe and efficient training in this new normal.

Whether looking for recurrent or initial type training, Shepherd Aero stands ready to get–or keep–you airborne. Training at your pace, in your aircraft, at your home airport. We offer courses in the Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Textron Aviation Citation Mustang and Citation 525-Series, Pilatus PC-12, and Honda Aircraft Company HondaJet.

Contact the Shepherd Aero team to get a customized in-aircraft training quote and details on what our syllabus entails.

ICAO Publishes Guidance for Continued International Aviation Operations

Here’s some good news and information for anyone operating aircraft internationally… We at Shepherd Aero are very happy to see the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) develop and release guidance on safe operation of aircraft during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As Shepherd Aero has been operating with an internally-developed COVID-19 testing and risk mitigation protocol since early April, the fact that ICAO has identified these very techniques as ways to safely operate in this current environment while reducing risk of exposure to the public further bolsters our firm’s program, and we hope to see more and more countries adopt the guidance provided by ICAO as a way to keep critical worldwide air transport operations moving forward. As the electronic bulletin states, the pandemic has “severely disrupted the global aviation network”, and that “it is critical to take into consideration appropriate risk assessments” to allow continued operations.

We highly recommend reading the bulletin and sharing with fellow international aviation authorities and operators.

NBAA recently noted the following related to ICAO’s guidance in this post:

The PHC [Public Health Corridor] concept is based on the use of “clean” crew, “clean” aircraft, “clean” airport facilities and “clean” passengers, with “clean” referring to implementing measures to ensure virus-free status, to the extent possible.

The PHC applies to operations carrying cargo, supporting maintenance activities and positioning aircraft without passengers. This includes ferrying of new and repaired aircraft and transportation of crewmembers for operational purposes.

The ICAO guidance also includes guidelines for crewmembers at airport; pre-, in- and post-flight; and during layovers, as well as a sample aircraft disinfection control record and a Crew COVID-19 Status Card.