I am often asked by a client buying or selling an aircraft “how quickly will this deal be done?” or ” how much will this cost?” My answer is always the same:  If you can tell me how everyone in the deal will behave, I can tell you generally how long it should take and how much it should cost. But the success of an aircraft transaction, like any transaction, is dependent upon the participants being experienced, practical and level-headed.

If you’ve ever played Blackjack, you know that there are certain “rules” that you’re supposed to follow. If the dealer is showing a card on top of a 6 or less (we assume the dealer has a 10 underneath), because the dealer needs to “draw” a card until it has 17, it is likely that it will  go over 21 and “bust” i.e. the players will win.  So, the rules that players generally follow are : (a) don’t hit (take a card) if the dealer is showing a top card of 6 or under, (b) double down if you have a 10 or 11 and the dealer has something less than a 10 or face card on top, (c) always split aces, and (d) never split tens (it’s likely a winning hand).

The theory goes that if everyone at the table plays by “the rules” then the odds are better that the players will win.  If there’s a player at the table that is doing abnormal things, like splitting tens, or hitting (taking a card) when the dealer is showing 6 or lower, then that player will mess up the odds at the table, and the table will lose more often.  Heaven forbid you have 2 players like that, and the table can kiss its chips goodbye at warp speed.

How does Blackjack have anything to do with aircraft transactions?  Simple. In an aircraft transaction, you typically have the following players at the table: (i) buyer, (ii) buyer’s broker, (iii) buyer’s counsel, (iv) seller, (v) seller’s broker, (vi) seller’s counsel and (vii) the aircraft.  Interestingly, a blackjack table holds 6 to 8 players, but that would be too easy.  The issue is that if any of the 6 aircraft “players” are inexperienced or behave oddly, then the transaction takes on less than normal process, with much time and energy being devoted to education, discussion and posturing.  This can add significant time and expense to an aircraft transaction.

So if you or one of your teammates is thinking about “splitting tens,” and the other players are telling you not to (or looking at you funny) then maybe it’s time to admit that you need help from an experienced player, or perhaps leave the table until you do.  Otherwise, your chips will be gone, and so will the deal that you desperately wanted to close.