Dr John Hajjar brings health and hope worldwide

Jerry Innella is the PIC who flies with his son as co-captain and wife as flight attendant in the doctor's Falcon 900.

By Mike Potts
Senior Contributing Editor

Dr John Hajjar, surgeon, businessman and philanthropist, seen in his office with a model of the Dassault Falcon 900 he uses to build his business.

Dr John Hajjar is one of the most successful urological surgeons in the northeastern US. He has created a network of surgical centers in the greater New Jersey metro area as well as in Florida. He uses a Dassault Falcon 900 to help support his business, which continues to grow with the benefit of business aviation.

The road to business success has been a long one. Dr Hajjar originally came to the US from his native Aleppo, Syria as a teenager. He settled in Paterson NJ, where he volunteered at a local hospital and developed an interest in medicine.

After earning his undergraduate degree from St Johns University in Jamaica NY in 1977, he attended medical school at Georgetown University in Washington DC, earning his medical degree in 1981. He then completed surgical and urological training at New York University in Manhattan.

Following his residency, Dr Hajjar began practicing urology in northern New Jersey in 1987 and quickly developed a reputation as both a skilled surgeon in urology and a talented practice manager. Within 5 years he had built the largest urological group practice in the state.

In 1992, Dr Hajjar was among the 1st physicians in the nation to recognize that advances in surgical techniques and technology, some of which he pioneered, made it possible to conduct urological surgical procedures in a safe, convenient and cost-efficient outpatient facility. Accordingly, he founded one of the 1st ambulatory surgery centers in Northern New Jersey, which recorded excellent patient outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.

Ultimately, that ambulatory surgery center would serve as a prototype for 15 more centers operated by Surgem LLC, a management company Dr Hajjar founded in 2005.
Dr Hajjar created MMB Management to satisfy his travel needs to the expanding network of surgery centers. Some of the new surgical centers were located in Florida, and his growing reputation found him in demand as a speaker in both the US and in

Meeting Jerry Innella

On the ramp at ABE are flightcrew members for the Dassault Falcon 900 operated by MMB Management Advisory Services and chartered through New World Aviation. L–R are Captain Jerry Innella, Cabin Service Representatives Kathleen Innella and Betty Innella, Chief Pilot and Captain Jerry Innella and CSR Alex Innella.

Dr Hajjar was frustrated with airline service and so became a business aviation charter customer. By 2006 he was chartering fairly regularly, and that's when he encountered Jerry Innella, who was an aircraft captain for a charter activity.

Innella's 1st flight experience was actually in helicopters. With no aviation background at all, he joined the Army in 1965, hoping to learn to fly. Before long he was a Chinook helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Returning home in 1967 he was assigned to a helicopter training base in Savannah, where, in his spare time, he earned all his civilian flight ratings.

In 1969, Innella separated from the Army rather than do another Vietnam tour. "I had a wife and son," he recalls, "And it was getting bad over there. When I first went over, there were 18 from my training class and we all came home; 5 went back for a 2nd tour and none of them returned home."

From helicopters to fixed-wing

At Fabergé, Innella was initially hired as a helicopter pilot for their 2 Bell 205 JetRangers. Fabergé also had a Saberliner and a Dassault Falcon 20, and Innella's job also included flying FO on the fixed-wing aircraft. In less than a year he was full time on FW and remained an FW pilot professionally ever since.

Innella would fly with Fabergé for the next decade, but then the airline bug bit and he got hired at United in 1979–only to be furloughed in 1980. He soon landed an FW job at Seagram's based at HPN (White Plains NY) flying their Gulfstream IIs and IIIs, a Dassault Falcon 50 and a Beechcraft B200 King Air.

In 1984, United recalled Innella and he would fly with them as a captain and check airman on Boeing 757/767 aircraft for the next 21 years until reaching mandatory retirement age. Not ready to quit flying, going back to business aviation seemed a logical choice, and he landed a job as a charter pilot on Bombardier Learjet 55s and Learjet 35s with LR Aviation, based in at ABE (Lehigh Valley Intl, Allentown PA). One of his regular clients was Dr Hajjar.

A tie between Dr Hajjar and Jerry Innella

By 2006 Dr Hajjar and his wife Sharon were becoming more frequent charter customers, and Innella 1 day suggested that perhaps the doctor should consider aircraft ownership. After some discussion, Dr Hajjar hired Innella in October 2006 with the initial goal of finding an airplane.

Innella considered several options but had pleasant memories of the Falcon 20 he had flown at Fabergé and concluded that was the right choice. He located a suitable aircraft and after conducting an extensive pre-buy inspection, acquired it. On February 1, 2007, Innella began flying the Falcon 20 for Dr Hajjar and his family.

"We did a lot of Atlantic crossings with that airplane," Innella recalls. "Dr Hajjar was doing a lot of business in Europe at that time and we would do Gander nonstop to London or Paris all the time."

As operations with the Falcon 20 got underway Innella had a suggestion: A flight attendant would provide a nice upscale touch. Moreover, he suggested that his wife, Betty, would be a good candidate. Dr Hajjar liked the idea and interviewed Betty, finding her to be an excellent choice. And so Dr Hajjar's Falcon 20 became a family operation with Jerry Innella in the captain's seat and wife Betty taking care of passengers in the cabin. Betty and Sharon Hajjar would soon become close friends.

A little more than 2 years later, in 2009, Dr Hajjar's flight operation became even more of a family affair. Back in 1966, while Jerry was in Vietnam, Betty had given birth to a son. Believing her husband might not come home, she named the boy Jerry Innella in honor of his dad. Like his dad, young Jerry grew up to be a pilot, although the son went a Naval ROTC route and then flew Northrop Grumman E-2Cs from the USN aircraft carriers America (CV66) and later the George Washington (CVN-73).

Later the younger Jerry would fly C-9s (military DC-9s) toward the end of a 20-year career in the Navy. Also like his dad, young Jerry joined United Airlines, and at 1 point the 2 actually flew together, with Jerry senior serving as check airman as young Jerry got qualified in 757/767s. Also like his dad, young Jerry got furloughed from United and was looking for a job just about the same time in 2009 that senior Jerry was looking for a new copilot.

Deciding that life as a corporate pilot might prove more stable than airline flying, young Jerry went to FlightSafety for a Falcon 20 type rating. He soon joined his dad in the cockpit, making Dr Hajjar's operation even more of a family endeavor.

From Falcon 20 to Falcon 900

Toward the end of 2012, the Falcon 20 was fully depreciated and Dr Hajjar had decided he would like to fly in a bigger airplane. The 20 was soon sold off to another doctor and on February 3, 2013 Jerry and Jerry Innella began flying Dr Hajjar in a newly-acquired Dassault Falcon 900.

The new aircraft was equipped with Honeywell avionics including FMZ-2000 FMS and a 5-tube EFIS system very similar to what was aboard United's Boeing 757/767 aircraft. The Innellas were immediately at home with the new system.


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