Although best known as the front man of metal legends Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson’s background in aviation sees him head a variety of companies in the sector, with a typical week taking him from Malta to Malmo.
How did you get involved in aviation?
It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I used to love putting together plastic aircraft models, and was inspired by my godfather. He served in the RAF as an engineer during the siege of Malta in the Second World War.
Now, of course, both those aspects are commemorated in the fact I am the chairman of an aviation business with extensive engineering facilities, with business interests in Malta!
You have a number of aviation companies. How do you divide your time between them?
It’s a challenge, but you have to take the long-term view. I try to ensure I give equal time to each business, but this industry moves so quickly you have to accept that everything could easily change within half an hour.
Tell us about your typical week
I know it’s a cliché to say there’s no such thing… but there really isn’t! Let me give you an example of how this week is looking and that will give you an idea.
Today I’ve been involved in phone conversations with all the partners within VVB, the ACMI operator developed by Cardiff Aviation, to get things organised for the next month.
Tonight I’m off to Milan, where I’ll be conducting line checks on our flight crew, and I’ll be getting my hands dirty flying aircraft myself. On my return, I will do interviews for the new Iron Maiden album The Book of Souls.
Then I’m doing a photoshoot involving a couple of World War One-era triplanes before taking a journalist up in a Bücker Jungmann so he can view the world from some ‘unusual angles’.
After that, I’m off to Malmo in Sweden [with VVB] to operate our Boeing 737 on behalf of Iraqi Airways in and out of the UK. It’s then due to return to our MRO for routine maintenance, which gives me a chance to meet with our partners in Air Djibouti.
“I really don’t enjoy working with people who think it’s their job to say ‘no’”
Does your fame help or hinder your business?
Fame can be useful. It means people answer the phone and are interested in working with you.
However, you only have a few minutes to genuinely engage interest from a business angle – other than that, you’re seen as just a curiosity. So yes, fame is helpful in opening the door, but beyond that, it’s business as usual.
How are the Eclipse 550’s prospects in Europe?
Aeris is selling approximately one per quarter, which isn’t a huge amount. However, you have to remember that the new 550 variant is not yet EASA-certified, and this is a major issue for buyers. We have repeatedly fed that back to the managers for the last two years.
On a personal level, it’s a delight to fly. It’s the only truly very light jet and the only really well conceived, single-crew jet, in my opinion. It’s a very innovative jet that deserves an innovative sales pitch, and we’re delighted to be working with Harrods on that.
Does your passion for music equal your passion for aviation?
There’s a question I ask myself every morning when I get out of bed, which is ‘which leg do I put down first – left or right?’ The answer is that you need both.
What do you enjoy most about your role in aviation?
This industry is full of amazing, dynamic people to work with. Also, I get to work with jets of all sizes, which I absolutely love.
What do you enjoy least?
I really don’t enjoy working with people who think it’s their job to say ‘no’.