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Private Jets Provide Jobs

Updated on March 13, 2019
James A Watkins profile image

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Private Jet Industry

Private jets comprise the major economic portion of what is known as General Aviation. General Aviation is defined as all aviation except for scheduled airline service and military aviation.

This is a $150 billion per year industry employing well over one million people. Besides the jobs provided for those employed in the manufacture of new private jets, hundreds of thousands of Americans make their livelihood in the production of components for the production of new jets, and aftermarket services.

This industry provides jobs for people who sell, charter, lease, maintain, refurbish and provide fuel for these aircraft; as well as an enormous aviation training segment.

Aircraft Flight Simulator
Aircraft Flight Simulator

FBO

General Aviation Aircraft fly over 30 million hours per year with 200 million passengers on board. Nearly two-thirds of these hours are flown for commercial purposes. It is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world.

15,000 companies provide support services. Most visibly prominent of these are Fixed Base Operations (FBOs). General Aviation aircraft cannot use most airport terminals as they are set aside for airline service. The FBO serves as a General Aviation Terminal.

Business Jet Aircraft Hangar
Business Jet Aircraft Hangar
FBO Ramp Services
FBO Ramp Services

Jobs Provided by General Aviation

There are approximately 3600 FBOs in the United States that provide well over a trillion gallons of aviation fuel per year. These facilities employ Line Service Technicians, who fuel aircraft; Customer Service Representatives, who also provide services as a concierge for travelers and pilots; and administrative personnel.

Companies authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to perform maintenance are called Repair Stations; and they number about 4000 in America today. Repair Stations employ 323,000 licensed aircraft technicians.

In addition, people are employed to repaint aircraft and refurbish aircraft interiors. Due to wear and tear, most aircraft are refurbished every five years.

There are also 3000 charter companies that employ 22,000 pilots and 20,000 support personnel.

And there are 3200 flight schools that train an average of 21,000 new pilots per year.

There are currently 600,000 licensed pilots in America and each of them requires recurrent training.

FBO Lobby - General Aviation Terminal
FBO Lobby - General Aviation Terminal
Aircraft Interior Refurbishment
Aircraft Interior Refurbishment
Aircraft Paint Facility
Aircraft Paint Facility
Aircraft Maintenance Inspection
Aircraft Maintenance Inspection
Aircraft Paint Job
Aircraft Paint Job

The Private Jet Business

Private jets have been vilified by the media and some politicians in the past few years. But the fact is, a private jet is a powerful, efficient business tool—a tool that is a major component of the most successful companies in America. And they perform 15,000 humanitarian missions each year.

Since scheduled airline service only serves 500 airports in The United States, business jets provide a vital link to 5000 suburbs, small cities, and small towns.

Half of the new business jets manufactured in 2007 were sold outside the United States—making this one of our few exported goods of big dollars.

The General Aviation Industry is in deep trouble in America today. I know. I had one such company for 14 years that employed 144 people until a few months ago.

While many industries are receiving bailouts, General Aviation is receiving derision. But our product—the private jet—is one of mankind's greatest achievements and in particular—an industry where America is undoubtedly the worldwide leader.

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    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      John Janiszewski— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! I look forward to reading some of your writings. I am well pleased to see another Michigander publishing on HubPages. I am from St Joseph.

      I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. Well put.

      It looks like you might be an A&P. My son is also. I was in the aviation business in Sanford, Florida for 14 years but alas—no more.

    • John Janiszewski profile image

      John Janiszewski 

      10 years ago from Flushing, Michigan

      What really chaps my ass about this debate is that the CEOs that use these aircraft do so because they are huge time savers, not because they are rich and evil. It would be like comparing using the freeway vs taking local roads to drive somewhere. The time savings is huge. Traveling commercial means waiting in long lines, getting your flight delayed and so forth. I would like to see our members of Congress and the President give up their "corporate" jets!!

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      11 years ago from Chicago

      Portamenteff— Yes, indeed. Private jet pilots and mechanics, as well as refurbishers, avionics technicians, support personnel, make a very fine living. These are good trades with an ultra high degree of responsibility. Thank you for your visit and concurrence. It is most appreciated.

    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 

      11 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      You are very correct. Private jets not only provide well paying jobs that this economy needs, but it provides more of them per gallon of fuel spent. If people want to spend the extraordinary amounts on the luxury of a private or even charter service, let them. It stimulates the economy in a good way. The families supported off of it are well supported, like put the kids through college kind of supported.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      11 years ago from Chicago

      CharterJetService— It is a pleasure to meet someone in the aviation business, which I assume you are. Thank you for the visit and comments.

    • CharterJetService profile image

      CharterJetService 

      11 years ago

      Another great hub, I especially enjoyed the information on FBO's. I at one time worked for a cargo jet company that also had some private charter planes. We ran our own FBO as a part of our service.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Alexander Mark— I employed 35 jet technicians with average experience of 20 years each and they only could wish they had the pay, benefits package, and work (nonwork) rules of a GM assembly line worker.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 

      12 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thanks for the great answer. It drives me nuts that aircraft mechanics, whether they work on Citations or 200 passenger jets, make barely more than 25 bucks an hour. I did talk to one lucky mechanic close to retirement, he's making 29. I have no problem with that wage by itself, being a bit frugal, I can do just fine with that amount, but it does not compare to pulling toilets, where a small mistake can ruin someone's day, vs aircraft where one misplaced bolt may or may not down an aircraft. Meh.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for your empathy. nomadfleet.com is your company? How awesome is that?! Well, it's nice to meet you! It will get better but Lord knows when. Private aviation is not exactly getting good press these days. :D

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      12 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Oh James, what a sad comment and the fact you have lost your business, We are also in the aviation business and rely on FBO s around the world. Things are very slow. When will this deadful time end? So sad to see every one suffering.nomadfleet.com.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Alexander Mark— You make wise comments and ask great questions.  General Aviation is an extremely difficult industry in which to turn a profit because prices (and thus some of the wages) are artificially low.  For instance, we could only charge $89 an hour as our labor rate to do major inspections and repairs on ten million dollar airplanes, with the liability of life and death hanging in the balance.  It cost $110 an hour to have my toilet or computer fixed. 

      My own theory is, that it is because so many people own aviation companies that actually make their income in some other business entirely.  I know a man who has made millions in the road construction business and he owns an FBO.  He doesn't expect the FBO to make a profit.  But he loves owning it, seeing the fine jets on the tarmac of HIS place, meeting the celebrities, etc.  It is a glamorous business.  I have known dozens of pilots, mechanics, line service technicians, who can make more money doing something else, but they are hooked on aviation.  It is their love and passion. 

      Nobody opens a laundramat because they love dirty clothes.  Most businesses are opened for profit.  Very few have the amount of passion I see in the aviation industry. Because it is a labor of love—sort of like being a starving artist or musician (which I have also been)—prices are artifically depressed for those trying to make a living at it. 

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 

      12 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I enjoyed reading about the industry I work at nearly the bottom as a fueler, refueler, line service technician, whatever you want to call me. I prefer the title, "fuel monkey." We are drowing in this economy, I sit on my butt most of the weekend. They cut the office staff hours, so I bake the cookies too. But for a blue collar job, this is the best one out there.

      Personally, I think I ought to make twenty bucks an hour, (when the economy is better), for never damaging and safely fueling and moving multi-million dollar aircraft. Although I am grateful for having a job at all and the fact that I work at an airport instead of flipping burgers, can you tell me why long term employees who work around expensive aircraft don't make very much? I apologize if I am being blunt, but you seem like a nice and reasonable person, and it's like being able to ask the owner of my company without offending him. Let me add, I am grateful for my job, and despite the pay, I recognize his efforts to keep us employed during these dry times.

      I am sorry you lost such a huge venture, aviation is a fickle thing. Net Jets and Flight Options have laid off a large portion of their pilots, and it's a frightening thing to hear when these biggest companies are being affected so much. Recovery will take a while.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      eovery— Funny you should mention that. My dad says the same thing! Thanks for your kind words.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 

      12 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I am sorry to hear about that James.

      Try running for politics, we need someone like you in there.

      Keep on Hubbing!

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      eovery— Thank you very much for your comments.  This industry is off by 50%!  My company of 14 years is gone.  My livelihood and my savings gone.  So, I am here on the Hub Pages. 

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 

      12 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I love airplanes.  There are a lot of jobs in this business, and the government making the industry look bad is effecting these job. 

      I also love technology.  I applied to Boeing and Hughes when I greaduated out of college, but did not get a job.  It would have been neat to work in aviation.

      Keep on Hubbing!

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Lefseriver— Thank you for visiting and your gracious words. And thanks for correcting me on the spelling of his name. :)

    • lefseriver profile image

      David Walli 

      12 years ago from Northern Minnesota

      Great photos; interesting article, and true.  Makes me want to visit the Air Force Museum at Wright Pat AFB in Dayton, Ohio....again.... also, Jeno Paulucci is well known in our area for Jeno's pizza; his sons run Grandma's Marathon event in Duluth. They own Grandma's Restaurant near Lake Superior. He just turned 90.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      John Z— I am pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Wanda— Thank you! Your encouragement is always welcomed.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Vladimir— There is still time! :-)

      I am glad you like the subject and I appreciate you for writing back.  I intend to do one more Hub on this subject before shifting gears and it will have many beautiful photographs of the latest and greatest of these magnificent machines.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Arch Dynamics— I appreciate your gracious words.  That is the lobby of the FBO I built— Avion Jet Center.  It was designed by the incredible architects: Scott Raymond and Joyce Phipps, of the Orlando Phipps'.  They are also champion ballroom dancers—but I digress.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      jill of alltrades— Thank you for the kind compliment and you are welcome.

    • James A Watkins profile imageAUTHOR

      James A Watkins 

      12 years ago from Chicago

      Mr. Schumann— You are so right.  In addition, the space program has created hundreds of technological innovations we use every day as well.  Thank you for your insightful contribution. 

    • John Z profile image

      John Z 

      12 years ago from Midwest

      I enjoyed the article James. Nice work.

    • profile image

      Wanda Huff 

      12 years ago

      This is a very informative, and interesting article. Nicely written as always.

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 

      12 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Hey my friend, now you are talking about my favored subject. My all dreams were fulfilled but this one. :-).

    • profile image

      Arch Dynamics 

      12 years ago

      Another fascinating article about something most of us know very little about - well done!

      That FBO interior looks beautiful and oddly familiar? Where is that?

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      12 years ago from Philippines

      This is a very interesting article. I know next to nothing about the private jet industry so this is certainly an eye opener for me. Thank you very much. You have such a wide range of interest and competence!

    • profile image

      Douglas D. Schumann 

      12 years ago

      Thankyou James for the interesting facts on FBO`s.

      Another important point about the aviation industry is how it has advanced technology which has become available in the home which have made our lives better.

      The developments in material sciences for aviation has brought doubly insulated electrical tools which have reduced injury and loss of life due to electrical shock is one example.

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