PENTA AVIATION

British Columbia operator expands into maintenance, looks to boost charter


Canada’s equivalent to FAA Part 135 is Canadian Aviation Regulation 704, which is also coming under increasing scrutiny by Canadian aviation companies and regulators. But the real changes, says Argent, are occurring at the FAA’s counterpart in Ottawa, Transport Canada. Last year the Canadian Business Aircraft Association (CBAA) took over licensing and certification of operators of private business aircraft in Canada from Transport Canada, a change that may be extended to charter companies under CAR 704 in 2005. Transport Canada still retains enforcement powers when someone breaks the rules, says Argent, but it’s what happens after “someone does something daft” that will matter.

“What will happen is that the good operators will force through good operational stuff and Transport Canada won’t knee jerk whenever the bad operator does a stupid thing and all the rest of us have to live with a new regulation. So from my perspective as a professional, it’s a very, very good thing.”

REEMPHASIZING CHARTER

These days it’s not interference from Ottawa that has given Penta Aviation and Canada Jet its biggest headaches, it’s the competition. Several years ago, Canada Jet took “a major hit” when four companies (London Air Services, Omega Aviation, North Western Internation-al, and Carson Air) challenged its supremacy as the charter air service in Vancouver. The job now is to reclaim its earlier status, says Marci Jens, who helps coordinate the charter side of the business.

“We’re trying to get our name back out there as a charter and so that Penta, our parent company, is a recognized name.

”Working with a local marketing firm, Jens is engaged in a branding exercise intended to fix Penta’s name in the minds of prospective clients, while distinguishing among the firm’s three divisions. For his part, Ken Moon doesn’t expect this exercise to extend beyond minor changes to brochures, websites, and the like. Marcie Jens and Nigel Argent? They see things a little differently.

“I believe more in putting things in the limelight and let people know what you can do,” says Argent, “because one of the worst conversations to have is after you’ve found out a customer’s just done something with someone else and you say, ` We could have done that.’ And they say, `Well, why didn’t you tell me?’ ”

If there’s one thing Argent and Moon do agree on, it’s that despite 9/11 and a slowing economy generally, corporate aviation is still a winner.

Comments Moon, “I see nothing but growth at this point.”

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