After a career in the cockpit and the management suite, Espen Høiby established OSM Aviation, offering a new model that handles every aspect of aircrew provision, from recruitment and flight training to take-off.
Tell us about your career so far
You might say I’ve been merely living my childhood dream for the past 35 years, and I still am. After completing my pilot training at the North American Institute of Aviation, I flew in Texas for three years – mostly freight operations. In 1983 I migrated back to Norway and began flying as captain on Dornier 228s for Norving – a Norwegian commuter airline with operations in northern Norway. In 1986 I joined SAS as a first officer and upgraded to captain in 1997 flying the McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Boeing 767, 737 and Airbus A330/340. During my career with SAS, I held many positions: instructor, chief flight instructor, chief of operations SAS Oslo and other management positions. My business partner Bjørn Tore Larsen and I founded OSM Aviation in 2013, and in 2014 I decided to leave SAS after 28 years.
What have been the highlights?
There have been many. I really enjoyed my tenure as chief flight instructor. It was very fulfilling to engage in developing the skills and knowledge of the pilot corps. Also, establishing, leading and building the OSM Aviation team has been a tremendous privilege.
What is OSM Aviation?
OSM Aviation is an innovative service provider to the aviation industry, offering highly efficient crew members and top quality crew management services worldwide. We have introduced a new and comprehensive outsourcing model of “total crew management”, where we take responsibility for the entire chain of aircrew management, from recruitment and training to planning and execution. Being the first company in the world to offer total crew management, I often refer to OSM Aviation as “a new way of thinking”. Our model is essentially suggesting an alternative to the traditional practice of having aircrew personnel directly employed and administered by the AOC holders. I believe, and our years in business has proven, this model is beneficial for both the personnel and the operators.
Why did you set up the company?
Having been in the aviation industry for more than 35 years, I have experienced first-hand how the industry is evolving. Low profit margins force operators to continuously look for ways to minimise costs within their existing structures, which can eventually put employees’ livelihoods at risk. At OSM Aviation, we successfully match the requirements of operators with the expectations and needs of their employees. We grew out of the OSM Maritime Group, and their long experience from the shipping industry has undoubtedly been vital for us.
What are the key challenges affecting the airline crew management market?
Despite an increasing demand for pilots and cabin crew, the competition is fierce and many airlines are struggling. Today, people have a more dynamic and international lifestyle, which a top-tier employer also needs to adapt to. Emergence of new technological developments may also change the industry and market requirements dramatically. Still, key challenges are providing flexibility, affordability and compliance.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There is never a dull moment at OSM Aviation, and working with so many talented and resourceful people is truly inspirational. The symbioses of working in a vibrant and team-oriented environment, and having the opportunity to bring sustainable and positive change to the industry, and the people working in it, is very rewarding and what keeps me going.
OSM Aviation represents change to a well-established and traditional industry, and our business is sometimes faced with misconceptions. It is always challenging to introduce innovative solutions to conservative markets, but opposing change is, on the contrary, fatal.