Keystone Aviation Explains How To Identify A Reputable Air Charter Provider
Convenience, safety and productivity are important, so you’ve decided to charter a private aircraft. Your online search has identified a few different charter operators and brokers, but not all are created equally. Here are five questions to ask so you can identify a reputable private air charter provider.
NOTE: Amid the current COVID-19 situation, make sure to check with air charter operators on their cleaning standards and how they mitigate operational risks. Keystone Aviation has implemented rigorous safety protocols to keep customers and associates safe. Click here to view the Keystone Aviation COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
1. ARE YOU AN AIRCRAFT OPERATOR OR A BROKER?
This is an important but often confusing distinction. The aircraft operator flies the charter flight. A broker often acts as a middleman between the consumer and the operator. Brokers can assist with the selection of an aircraft operator for your flight, but they usually charge a markup on the operator’s invoice in exchange for this service. The confusion lies in brokers who appear to be operators, especially in their advertisements. It’s important to know who you are dealing with when booking a flight, so ask the question. And if they won’t give you a clear answer, call someone else.
2. WHAT IS THE FAA AIR CARRIER CERTIFICATE NAME & NUMBER?
Ask to see the operator’s air carrier certificate, which will include the operator’s name and certificate number. Also ask for verification that the aircraft you will be flying on is listed on that certificate. Making sure your aircraft operator is a legal, FAA-certificated operator is an important safety and insurance consideration, so be sure your operator has an Air Carrier Certificate. Learn about illegal charter from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).
3. WHAT ARE THE INSURANCE LIMITS FOR THE AIRCRAFT TO BE CHARTERED
According to the Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Hope Aviation Insurance has indicated that “many prospective jet charter clients look for a minimum limit of $50 million ($50,000,000.00) combined single limit, bodily injury to passengers and property damage liability.” Depending on the number of passengers, the aircraft size, etc., insurance needs may change. Contact your insurance broker to discuss the details of insuring aircraft charters and your specific insurance needs.
4. WHAT IS THE CREWMEMBER EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
Pilots for a legal charter operator must have at least 1,200 hours of total flight time. You should know the total flight hours of the crew and, perhaps more importantly, how many hours each crewmember has in the make/model of the aircraft to be chartered. Industry auditors have recommendations about experience levels to look for with an aircraft crew. In addition, it’s helpful to know crew experience when comparing one operator to another.
5. IS THE OPERATOR INDEPENDENTLY AUDITED?
Ask about the audit history and ratings for the operator. Independent auditors typically review the operator’s standards, procedures and training. This type of independent verification is useful in identifying quality operators and in comparing operators to each other. Some of the most widely used independent auditors are:
The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) Industry Audit Standard is a revolutionary audit program that provides a comprehensive, independent review of an operator’s adherence to safety and security regulations. The ACSF Industry Audit Standard is the only audit that specifically evaluates compliance with Federal Aviation Administration Part 135 (and/or 91 Subpart K) regulations. A company that successfully completes the Industry Audit Standard gains a listing on the ACSF Industry Audit Standard Operator Registry.
ARG/US (Aviation Research Group/US) rates air charter providers as follows: DNQ (Does Not Qualify), Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum. According to their website, “this rate-based scoring method is designed to provide a general peer to peer comparison of the relative safety histories of like-sized operators based on available data.”
Wyvern publishes the Pilot and Aircraft Safety Survey (PASS) report on request that indicates whether the operator, aircraft and crew for your flight meet either an industry safety standard or meet The Wyvern Standard. Operators who pass become Wyvern recommended and are listed on the Wyvern website directory.
The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) is a code of best practices designed to provide an international benchmark for safety and efficiency in business aircraft operations. Certificates of Registration from the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) are issued to flight departments that have completed a third-party industry audit by an IBAC Accredited Auditor.
There are many other factors to consider when booking a charter flight. Additional resources include:
Check with air charter operators on their cleaning standards and how they mitigate operational risks, especially amid the recent COVID-19 situation. Keystone Aviation has implemented the rigorous procedures to keep customers and associates safe while continuing to provide regular operations. Click here to view the Keystone Aviation COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
NBAA published an Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide with further questions to ask pertaining to your flight.