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Ethics play a crucial role in aircraft sales

DavidDavid Monacell
Chair Emeritus, IADA
Partner, CFS Jets


I was 24 when I started selling airplanes. I told my clients, “I’ve discovered my passion, so I’m going to be in it for the long haul. I will not take advantage of you in any way, shape, or form, because I want your future business.” And that pledge is just as strong today as it was then – a commitment that is shared wholeheartedly by my peers at the International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA).

IADA offers the world’s only accreditation program for aircraft dealer organizations and the only certification program for individual brokers.

In the past few decades, the industry has grown exponentially. Now, instead of millions of dollars, the total value of used business aircraft sold each year is measured in billions.

That means there are a lot more players in the game, and, for some, with that much money involved, there might be a temptation to cross ethical hard lines. But as large as the dollar amounts are, we are a relatively small industry. So, when abuses occur, it doesn’t take long for word to spread.

A few years ago, some of the alphabet organizations that promote business aviation started noticing that some aircraft brokers weren’t being transparent with their clients.

Soon, there were rumblings of regulating aircraft sales transactions. No one knew exactly what that meant, but it carried the potential for unintended consequences. Our organization didn’t believe that this would be good for our clients.

Thankfully, we found another way. The best solution was for the industry to regulate itself through 3rd-party accreditation for dealers, and certification for individual brokers. Today, it remains the only professional accreditation attainable within our industry. The foundation of our standards is IADA’s reliance on a strict code of ethics – a differentiating factor that elevates not only IADA and its members, but the entire business aircraft resale industry.

Self-monitoring does, however, require some form of enforcement. To that end, IADA has created a disciplinary committee with independent 3rd-party involvement. And we have the backbone to dismiss those who would violate the code of ethics.

The IADA Disciplinary Committee sets us apart from aircraft salespeople who are less than scrupulous. Consisting of 7 individuals representing different segments of our organization, the committee consists of 3 IADA-accredited dealers, the IADA chair, 2 Products and Services members – of whom at least one is an attorney – and a representative from Joseph Allen Aviation Consulting, which is an unbiased participant in the process.

Fortunately, the committee is not too busy because our current members fully understand and support our ethics accreditation and certification requirement expectations.  Most of their current work consists of reviewing new membership applications and interviewing candidates.

Why is our work important to aircraft owners and operators? From a client perspective, our ethical focus assures them that the aircraft they are buying is worth the price, is equipped as stated, and has no undisclosed damage or transaction fees. Our clients on both the selling and buying side can be confident that their best interests are represented at every step.

Is our ethical approach truly meaningful in today’s market, where a seller or buyer might conclude that no outside assistance is necessary? It very much is. And, in fact, we bring a lot of value that may not be immediately obvious.

A key factor today is the rapidly shifting marketplace. Prices are up and the inventory of aircraft for sale remains tight, despite some recent gains. Because we represent a broad swath of the market, we have better real-time data than virtually anyone else. We can confidently assure clients that their pricing is appropriate.

Through our code of ethics, IADA brings immense value both to our clients and to the members of our organization. We can be proud of the standards we have created, and that makes us proud participants in the industry that is business aviation.