From Cockpit to Closing: The Engineering Advantage in Jet Sales

From Cockpit to Closing: The Engineering Advantage in Jet Sales


June 21, 2024


Jacob Russell, Sales Operations Specialist

In the world of aircraft sales, diverse expertise is invaluable. This diversity allows a team like ours at jetAVIVA to form creative solutions to any problem or opportunity that comes our way. My specific background is in Avionics Systems Engineering and certification. While the roles of engineering and sales are often seen as disparate, they are, in fact, profoundly complementary. Transitioning from an avionics engineer at Garmin to a Sales Operations Specialist at jetAVIVA, it has been clear to me how technical backgrounds can bring value to a sales team. Engineering experience can elevate jet brokerages and acquisitions, transforming complex transactions into seamless, informed decisions for our clients.

Bridging Engineering and Sales

My career began in avionics development at Garmin for the G3000/5000. Here, I dedicated my time to the design and certification of data communication product lines, including ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System), FANS 1/A+, FAA Data Comm, and Link 2000+ CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications). These systems, while technically complex, are further complicated by regulation, bureaucratic infighting, controller union threats, and many other non-technical challenges we had to overcome. This work required not only a deep understanding of avionics technology but also the ability to navigate stringent regulatory requirements and innovate solutions where none previously existed, all while advocating for business aviation in commercially-dominated industry groups.

After my tenure at Garmin, I expanded my expertise through avionics design and requirements consulting. Most of this time was spent with GE on the TrueCourse FMS system and software requirements, tackling diverse challenges and customizing solutions to meet complex client needs and regulations. This experience was instrumental in developing problem-solving skills and adaptability, traits that are invaluable in any field, including sales. Both at Garmin and GE, honing the skill of negotiating resources and advocating for clients on technical matters has directly applied to my time at jetAVIVA.

The True Nature of Engineering

A common misconception is that engineers are solely focused on wires, code, and technical minutiae. While technical knowledge is crucial, the essence of engineering lies in problem-solving. Engineers are trained to approach problems methodically, analyze data, and create innovative solutions. This mindset transcends the boundaries of any single discipline and has allowed me to adapt my skills to new contexts, including sales.

In avionics, there are rarely predetermined answers. Each project presents unique challenges that require bespoke solutions. This parallels the jet sales process, where each client’s needs and circumstances are distinct. The ability to devise customized strategies and solutions is a cornerstone of successful sales operations, and it is precisely this ability that an engineering background enhances.

Integrity and Precision in Sales Operations

The analytical and systematic approach ingrained in an engineer, such as myself, is a significant asset in sales operations. At jetAVIVA, I leverage these problem-solving skills to grasp complex, shifting markets and stay informed about every transaction happening in those markets. Whether tracking market data, valuing a client’s aircraft, or visually inspecting an aircraft, my engineering background provides a keen understanding of the weight specific details carry in a transaction.

In engineering, there is no room for fluff. Every assertion must be backed by data and rigorous testing, and this discipline translates directly into my sales role. The unfortunate stereotype of a ‘slick used car salesman’ can lead to skepticism of any sales professional due to potential exaggerated claims and superficial pitches. However, having an engineer on the team eliminates this risk. We approach each transaction with the same honesty and precision I applied to engineering challenges, ensuring clients receive clear, factual information free from any BS.

For instance, my familiarity with avionics systems allows us to provide clients with detailed insights into the technical aspects of the aircraft they are considering. This knowledge, coupled with a serious commitment to market data, has built trust and credibility, reassuring clients that they are truly making informed decisions. By demystifying complex technical details and ever-changing markets, we enable clients to understand the true value and capabilities of the aircraft, leading to more confident and satisfied buyers.

Building Trust Through Expertise

In the competitive world of jet sales, trust is paramount. Clients must have confidence that their broker not only understands the market but also the intricate technical details of the aircraft. An engineering background provides a unique advantage in this regard. We can speak with authority on avionics and aircraft systems, providing clients with the depth of information they need to make well-informed decisions.

Moreover, my experience in consulting equips us with the ability to listen carefully to client needs and tailor solutions accordingly. This client-centric approach is crucial in sales, where understanding and addressing specific client requirements can make the difference between a successful sale and a missed opportunity.

Innovation and Adaptability

The aviation industry is continually evolving, requiring both innovation and adaptability. An engineering background ensures we are well-equipped to navigate these changes. Working on cutting-edge projects that push the boundaries of what is possible in avionics fostered in me a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation, which translates directly into the sales operations role at jetAVIVA.

In sales, this means staying ahead of the latest market trends, OEM developments, and maintenance changes—BEFORE they happen. By continually updating our knowledge and adapting our strategies, we ensure clients receive the most current and relevant information, positioning them for success in their aircraft acquisitions and sales.


The blend of engineering and sales expertise is a significant asset in today’s aviation market. An engineering background provides a robust foundation for problem-solving, innovation, and client trust—key elements that elevate the sales process and deliver exceptional value to our clients. At jetAVIVA, we leverage a breadth of valuable expertise to guide clients through the complexities of jet sales and acquisitions, ensuring informed decisions and seamless transactions. By bridging the gap between the cockpit and the closing, I am committed to advancing the field of jet sales through a unique combination of engineering insight and sales expertise.