Chartering An Aircraft

A Consumer Guide to Help You Fly Smarter

What is charter?

Chartering an aircraft is probably one of the best-kept travel secrets around. In fact, our research shows that only a small percentage of frequent business travelers have considered chartering an airplane. But now, the secret is out.

Each year, thousands of people all over the United States discover the benefits of air charter. And every day, more travelers are discovering just how smart charter can be.

Charter is about saving you time and, often, money on your business trips. Safety, security, convenience and productivity are key reasons why individuals and companies choose charter air travel.

Charter is the convenience of traveling on your schedule rather than the airlines’ schedule and flying to airports closer to your final ground destination. With the ability to fly in and out of more than 5,500 public use airports in the United States, air charter provides convenient access to your final destination. Selecting a charter operator is not difficult, nor does it require a vast knowledge of the industry or federal air carrier regulations.

Best of all, charter is having complete control over your travel environment, while enjoying the comfort, safety and security of a private aircraft. Charter aircraft operators are often referred to as on-demand or air taxi operators. The synonymous terms convey
the key attribute of charter service – we’re there when you call, ready to conform to your unique schedule and needs.

But, to help you form your own opinion of what charter is – and what it can do for you or your business – let’s answer a few of the most common questions asked about charter to help you select an operator that can meet your needs.

Charter is more than just passenger air transportation. Charter aircraft serve many critical niche markets such as just-in-time air cargo delivery, scenic air tours, and emergency medical transportation to name just a few. More information about these industry services is provided at the conclusion of this guide.

When does it make sense to charter?

Charter is smarter only under certain circumstances. The airlines are very competitive

when it comes to carrying a lot of people, for long distances, to a limited number of destinations. So when you are traveling between two very distant, major cities, like Los Angeles and New York, or traveling overseas, it may make sense to travel on the airlines.

But, there are times when charter makes a lot more sense. When you have several places to go but very little time, if there are multiple passengers traveling, if your destination is not a major airline hub, or when the airlines’ schedules just don’t fit into your business schedule, charter is the better choice.

So, before you compare the costs of airline travel to air charter, consider the time and money you’ll save on overnight expenses – motels, meals and car rental – and factor in the inconveniences you often face with the scheduled airlines: lost/delayed baggage, missed connections, cramped seating and oversold flights, to name a few.

Finally, what is it worth to be home with your family at night? When you charter your own aircraft, it’s possible for you to get back home to your family.

Many times it’s smarter to charter.

How much does a charter flight cost?

It will depend on your particular flight and really can’t be determined until you call a charter operator with specific trip plans. But, generally speaking, charter rates will be hourly or by the mile, and will vary according to the size of the aircraft.

What information should I have when calling a charter operator?

You’ve decided to charter an airplane. Good choice. So what’s your next step?
First of all, lay out your travel plans. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What city do I want to depart from and where am I going?
  2. Will there be any intermediate stops?
  3. What is my return date?
  4. How many people will be traveling with me?
  5. Will I need ground transportation arranged?
  6. Will I need any special catering for my flight?

This way, you’ll have the necessary information ready when you call your local charter operator.

Chartering An AircraftWhat Information should I ask the charter operator?

Ask about the fee structure.

Some charter operators will charge by the mile and some will charge by the hour.

Hourly rates are determined based upon the type of aircraft chartered, and normally include the cost of the aircraft, pilot(s), and standard catering.

Operators will sometimes charge by the mile rather than by the hour, and their mileage rate will also include those items mentioned in the hourly rate method.

Because the services offered are customized to fit your specific desires, it is difficult to give general price estimates. Keep in mind that the charter operator may need to adjust the final cost of your charter due to changes in logistics or en route deviations. If there is a potential for variations from a quoted price, this should be clearly noted at the time an agreement is reached with the operator.

Ask about any extra charges to the quoted price.

Extra charges may include landing fees, deicing, hangar storage, and federal and state taxes where applicable.

A common extra fee is the pilot(s) waiting fee and overnight crew charges (if your trip requires an overnight stay for the crew at your destination.)

If your visit is a long one, your pilot(s) may have to drop you off, fly back to base and then come back later to get you. This doubles the flight time and possibly your fare. Ask your charter operator about this before the flight, so you can create a plan that best suits your needs and budget.

If it’s only a short visit, you’ll probably be better off paying the pilot(s) to wait. Typically, the hourly wait fee is based on the number of pilots, with a maximum charge per day. If the crew is to remain overnight, an overnight charge will be imposed to cover the crew’s overnight expenses.

Chartering An AircraftAsk about the aircraft.

Normally, charter operators have a variety of aircraft types in their charter fleet, each designed for different missions. You should ask the charter operator about what aircraft they would recommend for meeting the mission of your flight. Then determine whether that aircraft will meet your needs for speed, comfort, range and price.

Generally, there are four classes of charter aircraft, with different models within each class. These four general classes of aircraft are:

  • Single- and multi-engine piston
  • Single- and multi-engine turboprop
  • Jet (small, medium and large)
  • Helicopter

There are approximately 2,000 air charter operators in the United States that have met the comprehensive criteria required to qualify for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Carrier Operating Certificate.

Are these aircraft safe?

Yes.  Just like the airlines’ passengers, nearly every charter flight passenger who leaves an airport in the United States this year will land at his or her destination safely. The FAA has rules that address crew rest and physical examinations and that mandate a stringent anti-drug/alcohol program for operators. The FAA closely monitors operators to make sure that they conform to the established standards of performance.

The high standards for training, maintenance and operators required by the FAA, and the devotion to safety of the charter operators themselves, assure you of the safest possible flight environment. Couple this attitude towards safety with technology
improvements in the cockpit over recent years and you have the safest mode of transportation available.

Am I secure?

Global security concerns have led to significant security enhancements within the entire aviation industry, and charter operators are no exception. In fact, enhanced security is often one of the primary reasons for chartering, because when you charter an aircraft, you are in control.

You decide who is permitted on your flight. There are no strangers to overhear your confidential business conversations or to threaten your personal security.

When traveling via charter, you dictate the departure time and location as well as the destination. Your flight itinerary is private, not published for the world to see, as is the case with airline schedules.

Recently, the federal government has mandated security programs for most charter operators.

In addition, most charter operators, and several airports, have also instituted security precautions for charter passengers that may include a verification of identification, checks of baggage for dangerous items, screening with a metal detector and other measures, even when not required by federal regulations. Your charter operator is dedicated to ensuring your safety and security and will be willing to answer any of your questions.

What about weather?

Weather can affect your flight plans when chartering just as it can affect airline schedules.

The FAA has many regulations concerning weather, types of aircraft, and pilot capabilities. Some aircraft are equipped with various optional equipment that allow operation in complex weather, such as icing conditions or heavy rain showers.

The operator you select can explain the limitations of the aircraft and the company’s authorizations. The pilot will not fly an aircraft if the weather conditions do not meet safety standards. Always trust the decision of your professional pilot when it comes to weather and flight safety.

Chartering An AircraftHow can I avoid any problems?

Do some checking. Every charter operator must have a certificate from the FAA showing that his or her operation meets or exceeds the agency’s standards for aircraft maintenance, management control and oversight of its crew’s training, flight time and health. Your safety depends on flying with a legally certified air taxi operator; never fly with an operator who does not appear to hold proper FAA certification. You may also wish to ask for verification of the type and limits of insurance coverage carried by the operator.

Your pilot must hold either a Commercial Pilot Certificate or an Air Transport Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA, just as his or her airline counterpart does. Every six months he or she undergoes a mandatory proficiency check-ride with an FAA inspector, who also verifies the pilot’s knowledge of standard operating procedures and the aircraft he or she is flying – just like the airlines.

But before you charter an airplane, you may wish to exercise your right to contact your regional FAA office and request verification that the charter operation is certified for the trip you’re planning. The telephone number is easily found on the FAA’s Web page at http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/.  Or, just ask your selected charter operator. Most are pleased to deal with an educated consumer and are proud of their safety record. They can provide you with their certificate number and the phone number of the FAA inspector responsible for overseeing their operations.

If a charter operator is unwilling or reluctant to provide answers to questions about their certificate and authorized operations, or does not want you to contact the FAA for verification, you would be wise to consider another operator to fill your travel requirements.

What about the ground facilities?

They will vary from airport to airport.  The smaller airports will often have many of the accommodations of major airports – waiting areas, restrooms and telephones to name a few. Many of these facilities, known as fixed base operators (FBOs), provide complimentary airport-to-town transportation. Also, it is very likely that your charter operator can prearrange ground transportation to be waiting for you upon your arrival. Charter operators are also excellent resources for obtaining your preferred lodging if your trip necessitates hotel accommodations.

What these smaller facilities may lack in size, they make up for in warm hospitality. With few exceptions, people in aviation are there by choice: They like what they’re doing and their enthusiasm sparks a cordial atmosphere.

There are two primary benefits to choosing a smaller airport: avoiding the delays and hassles so often found at the major airline hubs and landing at an airport close to your ground destination.

Can I make my connections with airlines if necessary?

Occasionally, passengers in towns without airline service decide to charter an aircraft to connect more easily with an airline flight. This is possible. However, due to security, airports and airline service are divided into separate general aviation (including charter) and airline areas. But at most of these airports, courtesy cars are provided to drive you to the airline terminal. Inform your charter operator that you will be making an airline connection, and they can make the necessary arrangements.

How do I find a charter operator?

NATA recommends that you pre-screen charter operators. Ask questions about their experience, safety, security, maintenance and insurance. You should also ask if the operator has undergone an independent third-party safety audit, such as the Air Charter Safety Foundation’s Industry Audit Standard, which sets the standard for the independent evaluation of an air charter operator’s safety and regulatory compliance. You can view the full list of operators that have been audited by the Air Charter Safety Foundation and meet its standards at www.acsf.aero/registry. There are also other companies that provide audits for air charter that may be useful as well.

Take that familiar finger-stroll through your local Yellow Pages, and look for the heading “Aircraft” and the sub-heading “Aircraft Charter, Rental & Leasing Service.” Under this heading, you will find the charter operators servicing your area.

Another popular resource is the Air Charter Guide. This publication is like the Yellow Pages of the air charter industry. Air Charter Guide offers a free search engine available at www.aircharterguide.com.

It is possible that your local travel agent may be familiar with the charter operators in your area and you can book your trip through him or her.

Keep in mind that you are not limited to only those charter operators in your immediate area. It’s possible that other operators in your region can serve your needs without large cost increases.

So what makes charter smarter?

The advantages:

The advantage of saved time.

You can fly in or leave whenever you like – without having to depend on the airlines’ schedules or without the long hours on the road. You can go where you need to, get your business done and come back when you want. This means saving money on food, lodging and car rental. It could also mean spending more valuable time with your client or your family.

The advantage of convenience.

Over half of all airline flights connect with only the 20 busiest airports in the U.S. With charter, you have direct access to all of these major airports – plus some 5,500 airports in small communities that the airlines don’t reach.

With a chartered aircraft, you can often land whenever and wherever you want – usually much closer to your destination. You can avoid the large, crowded airline hubs. You can even have a car waiting for you when you land.

You can choose your traveling companions. This means converting wasted travel time into useful study or preparation time. Just think of what you could accomplish with everyone together in your own private work area. And, you can take along extra people and equipment – at no extra cost.

Article content courtesy of National Air Transportation Association (NATA).  NATA is the voice of aviation business, representing the legislative, regulatory and business interests of its more than 2,000 members. NATA also provides education, services and benefits to strengthen the economic success of its members.  For more information, visit http://www.nata.aero.

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

How to Become a Charter Pilot

If you dream of flying a G550, but don’t exactly know how to get your foot in the door, below are a few tips to help your charter pilot career take flight:

Charter Pilot 1. Build Flight Hours: It is important to log as many flight hours as possible.  But how many flight hours do you need?  Commercial airlines prefer a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time.  However, most charter companies prefer about 3,000 flight hours.

2. Become a Flight Instructor: Flight instructors get paid to fly!  In addition, they get to log their flight time as PIC (Pilot-In-Command).  Since flying can be expensive, this is one of the most economical ways to accumulate flight time.  Furthermore, being an instructor is an excellent way to increase your knowledge and flight skills.

 

3. Choose a Flight Path: Commercial airlines generally do not require new pilots to have as many hours as charter companies.  Also, most charter companies prefer that new hires already have their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate – since this is not a requirement for commercial airlines, you might want to start with a commercial airline to increase your flight time and get your ATP.

Charter Pilot4. Know What Flight Departments are Looking For: In addition to building your flight hours, customer service experience is also extremely important.  Unlike commercial airline pilots, charter pilots work closely with their customers.  They are responsible for coordinating ground transportation, catering and other special requests their customers might have. Charter companies realize this and look for potential pilots who have a strong customer service background. Excellent customer service can turn a one-time customer into a customer for life.

Once you obtain your commercial pilot license with 250 hours of flight time, there are a few other paths to consider for building your flight hours:

  • Traffic Watch – You can gain 2-3 flight hours per day flying traffic watch.
  • Sky Diving Flights – Pilots can quickly earn hours flying a variety of aircraft for sky divers.  The more experience you have, the better chance of flying a turbine powered aircraft, such as a King Air, Beech 99, or a Cessna Caravan.
  • Towing – You can learn to become a tow pilot for sailplanes.
  • Scenic Flights – There are many scenic tour operators in the Western United States which provide opportunities for you to get paid to build your time.

Several of our pilots at Keystone Aviation have pursued their career opportunities through the above avenues.

So now that you know the steps to start building your pilot resume, get out there and fly!

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

Which aircraft is right for you?

So, you have thought about it long enough. You’re tired of taking three days to accomplish what could be done in one. Perhaps you have had enough of long lines and pat downs.  Maybe you’ve chartered or flown on a friend’s aircraft a time or two and realized the cost-benefit analysis makes sense.  Whatever your reason, you have decided it’s time to purchase your own aircraft. With that big decision made, now comes that task of deciding which aircraft is right for you.

As with most decisions in life, there are tradeoffs, and deciding which aircraft to purchase is no exception. The four main forces acting on an aircraft – thrust, lift, drag and gravity – are the cause of most aircraft acquisition tradeoffs. More thrust means higher speed, but more cost. More lift means shorter runways are accessible, but slower cruise speeds. Larger, heavier aircraft mean more cabin comfort and capability, but need more lift and thrust which, in turn, correlates to more cost.

Acquisition Budget. The most logical place to start is to set the acquisition budget. How much can I afford? It is important to remember that an aircraft is a tool to help facilitate the growth of your business and simplify your life. Letting ego creep into the budget decision can lead to acquiring more aircraft than needed, and can lead to a less than ideal ownership experience.

Operating Costs.   Just as important as how much can I afford to acquire the aircraft, is how much can I afford for direct operating cost of the aircraft? Typically, the older the airframe and engines, the higher the direct operating costs. This is due to more maintenance being required on the airframe, as well as the less efficient engines on older aircraft. As aircraft age, particularly beyond ten years, their values decline, but direct operating costs increase.   An extreme example of this is in the large cabin Gulfstream G-II market. While this 1970s vintage aircraft can be purchased for nearly give away prices of $400K and below, it will cost upwards of $7,000 per hour to operate.

Cabin. Generally, the larger the cabin, the higher the acquisition and operating costs. Some features of the aircraft cabin to consider:

  • Number of Seats.   The average passenger load for a business jet trip is approximately 2.5 people. Do you really need 12 seats for that annual trip to Hawaii? You can buy a lot of first class seats to the islands with the millions you will save in purchasing a midsize instead of a large cabin aircraft.
  • Cabin Size. Standup cabins are comfortable, but the bigger the cabin, the bigger the direct operating costs.
  • Lavatory. Some light aircraft have limited lavatory facilities with a curtain for a barrier or have no lav at all. How long do you plan on being in the air?
  • Baggage Volume. Storage space comes at a premium in an aircraft. Do you need the capability to load golf bags or skis? Some mid and light aircraft have baggage compartments loadable only from the interior, while others have larger exterior baggage space in the nose and tail of the aircraft.

 

Range.  Longer range capability means larger aircraft which means higher acquisition and operating costs. What are your common destinations? How many times per year do you travel to these destinations?   Do you need to go non-stop or will a stop along the way be acceptable? The 80/20 rule applies to range. Purchase an aircraft that will satisfy 80% of your needs – for all other occasions, you can make a fuel stop, charter a larger aircraft or book a first class ticket for the other 20% of your destinations.

Speed. One of the first questions many aircraft buyers will ask is “how fast does it go?” Most midsize and large cabin aircraft have cruise speeds that are not dramatically different. Light jets will have more variation in speed capabilities.   With the average business jet leg being 600 miles, the difference in speed from one model to the next often results in only a few minutes difference in travel time.

Service Ceiling. Most business jets are capable of flying as high or higher than the airlines enabling them to fly over most weather. If considering a turboprop aircraft, know they fly at lower altitudes which will occasionally result in the need to circumvent poor weather.

Runway Performance.  It is important to know the runway length at the airports you frequently use. Larger aircraft typically require more runway for takeoff and landing. The lighter the aircraft, the less runway needed. However, often less fuel is loaded on board in order to meet limited runway lengths, which results in fuel stops.

Payload. Most aircraft are not capable of filling the fuel tanks and filling the seats at the same time. While filling the tanks is not required on many flights, it is important to know the limitation of how much an aircraft can carry with full fuel.

One or Two Pilots. Most turboprop aircraft and many newer light jets are certified to be operated with a single pilot. Operating with a single pilot can reduce costs, increase payload capability and open up an extra seat for passengers. Having two pilots can add to the safety of operations due to the reduction in pilot flying work load, more eyes outside the cockpit and redundancy in case of health issues.

There is no one aircraft that will satisfy 100% of a buyer’s needs. Sorting through tradeoffs in performance, features and costs can be daunting, not to mention the complexities of the overall acquisition process.  Particularly for first time aircraft buyers, taking a conservative approach to aircraft selection and assessing real needs is wise. Getting professional guidance from an experienced aircraft broker is paramount to making the right aircraft selection, as well as to a successful acquisition.

By Michael Parker © December, 2011. Mr. Parker is vice president aircraft sales at Keystone Aviation, based in Salt Lake City, Utah and has brokered and professionally flown business aircraft for over 14 years.

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

The Traveler’s Handbook to Empty Leg Flights

If you are looking for a way to save on a private jet charter, then you should consider empty leg flights.

Empty Leg FlightsWhat is an empty leg flight?

Air charter operators usually fly customers round-trip. However, there are instances when a client doesn’t need to use both legs of the round-trip charter flight. These one-way scenarios create a situation where one of the legs of the round-trip flight booked by the original client is empty.

Charter companies often make these one-way empty flights available for other clients at a discounted price, resulting in a win-win situation for both the air charter companies and would-be clients. Keystone Aviation often goes one step further and refunds the original client a portion of their round-trip payment, creating a win-win-win situation.

How much can you save with an empty leg flight?

Things to note: You must be flexible with your flight schedule in order to fully benefit from an available empty leg. Since empty leg flights originate through another customer, if the original customer changes or cancels their flight, your empty leg will also be changed or even cancelled. Be aware, while air charter operators will generally give refunds for a cancelled flight, they usually do not offer a replacement flight in cases when the original flight is cancelled or changed.

Availability of empty leg flights varies considerably. It may be easier to find one if you are flying to a popular destination. Customers who fly to a destination frequently for either business or pleasure may also benefit because the routine nature of the travel may create the flexibility to take advantage of the savings. Also, air charter peak times, such as the holidays, may mean more availability of empty leg deals.

Empty Leg FlightsHow do I find available empty leg flights?

Many air charter operators will post available empty legs on their websites. Keystone Aviation offers a current list of its available empty legs at: Available Empty Legs

In order to keep customers informed when empty legs become available, Keystone Aviation sends direct email alerts for empty legs. You can go to Keystone Aviation’s website daily or weekly in order to monitor the empty legs in hopes of finding one that fits your schedule.  Or…you can let us know that you are interested in empty legs and when one becomes available, Keystone Aviation will send you an email directly to alert you that an empty leg has been added.

Empty leg flights are an efficient way to save on air charter expenses. If you cannot be flexible with your dates or times, then you may be better off booking a traditional charter flight instead. However, with flexibility, can come real savings for the fantastic experience that is private aviation.

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

To Buy or Charter a Private Jet?

More and more businesses and individuals are realizing the efficiency and productivity benefits of private business aviation. But what method of private aviation would best fit your needs or the specific needs of your company; purchasing an aircraft or chartering one? The differences between ownership and chartering can be compared using the following questions:

  • How many hours are you estimating to fly per year?
  • What type of missions will be flown?
  • What will the average passenger count be on the aircraft?

The answers to these questions should be tailored to fit specific situations and needs, regardless of whether you are considering personal or business travel.

Whole Aircraft Ownership:

With whole aircraft ownership, you have complete control over the plane and crew. You know where the plane has flown, who has been on it, how many hours it has logged and when it was last inspected. As the owner, you have control over whom you hire to fly the plane and what their experience level is in that particular type of aircraft. The plane can be equipped the way you wish, to your specifications and you can be certain that the aircraft is maintained to your personal standards.

Advantages of whole aircraft ownership include:

  • Complete flexibility on scheduling, including usage on an ad-hoc, short-notice basis
  • Tax benefits associated with depreciation
  • Reduced operating costs, through generation of charter revenue (if you have elected to put the   aircraft on a charter certificate)
  • Opportunities for appreciation in the value of the aircraft
  • Variable operating costs can be defrayed by making the plane available for charter to third parties         (Doing so will not reduce flexibility or trip planning)
  • YOUR AIRPLANE, YOUR SCHEDULE!

Disadvantages of whole aircraft ownership include:

  • Large capital outlay
  • Cost inefficiencies for low utilization owners (usually fewer than 300 flight-hours per year)
  • Inflexibility on aircraft size/type
  • Requires personal supervision
  • Risk of market value fluctuations

Aircraft Charter:

Aircraft charter is attractive to individuals that frequently travel on short notice, must visit multiple locations within a short time frame, or for individuals who travel to areas that lack adequate commercial airline service. When you charter an aircraft, you have neither the responsibilities of aircraft ownership, nor the limitations on the size of aircraft available for your trip. You select the exact airplane you need for each trip, whether you have 4 or 20 people traveling. The price of your aircraft charter is going to vary depending on aircraft performance, size, passenger capacity and the duration of your flight.

Advantages of Aircraft Charter:

  • Flexibility in the choice of aircraft to best fit your trip
  • No large capital outlay
  • Avoid the risk of market value fluctuations

Disadvantages of Aircraft Charter:

  • Aircraft availability may be limited, especially for short-notice trips
  • Not as effective for one-way travel or long layovers
  • Personalized service varies from charter company to charter company

Your charter experience should be professional, personal and productive.

Aircraft ownership and aircraft charter offer you and your business a unique opportunity to maximize your time, efficiency and productivity, while giving you the freedom to enjoy the things that matter most to you.

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

Private Aviation Gives Life

Private Aviation Gives Life

Somewhere in America, an organ was just delivered to a recipient through the use of private aviation. While some view private aircraft charter as a luxury for the rich and famous, many companies around the country offer their available fleet for life-saving organ transplant flights. The human body has a combination of over 100 organs and body parts that can be utilized as a transplant to give someone a second chance at life. Lungs, kidneys, and hearts however have a critically short time frame from the time the donor has given their organs to the time the transplant recipient can successfully accept an organ.
The pilots and crew members of these transplant flights are keenly aware of the urgent nature of these flights. Transplant flights are routinely flown in the late hours of the evening and can often have a crew on duty for up to 14hours. The use of the private aircraft allows hospitals around the country to match recipients with donors, regardless of their location. One of these individuals may be your neighbor, your friend, or even your family.

Private Aviation Gives Life

Many organ donor flights are flown by a local Aircraft Charter Company. The primary supplier of organ donor flights in the state of Utah is Keystone Aviation. Keystone Aviation offers the use of its fleet (based on availability) to local transplant organizations. Within the last year, Keystone Aviation successfully completed numerous organ donor flights, including a flight to and from Honolulu, Hawaii to aid in the procurement of a life-saving organ for a Utah resident. The highly trained and skilled flight crews at Keystone Aviation are placed on what the flight department has called “organ donor standby duty.” These crews are able to be airborne within two hours of being notified of the flight. Every member of the team at Keystone Aviation works diligently until the organ and transplant team has arrived at its destination.

 

  • 110,586 people are waiting for an organ
  • 18 people will die in the USA each day waiting for an organ
  • 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives

The need for life-saving organs is great, and private aviation is here to assist. Together, private aviation and organ donors around the country are giving individuals in need a second chance at life.  For more information on this article or organ donation, visit www.organdonor.gov.

Aaron Mangone © has worked in the Aviation Industry since 2001 in positions that include Flight Coordinator, Pilot, and Charter Sales Manager. He Currently serves as the Charter Sales Manager at Keystone Aviation in Salt Lake City.

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

5 Questions for Air Charter Operators & Brokers

Convenience, productivity, and safety are important to you, so you’ve decided to charter an aircraft. Your internet search has identified a number of charter operators and brokers, but not all air charter providers are created equally. So how do you identify a reputable charter provider? There are 5 questions for air charter operators you should ask when getting a charter quote, that will make the process of chartering an aircraft more transparent and help you to make an informed buying decision.
Questions to ask when requesting a charter quote include:
5 Questions for Air Charter1.    Are you an aircraft operator or a broker? – This is an important, but often confusing distinction. The aircraft operator is actually flying the charter flight. A broker often acts as a “middle-man” between the consumer and the operator. Brokers can assist with the selection of an aircraft operator for your flight, but they usually charge a mark-up 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 and Number? – Ask to see the operator’s air carrier certificate which will include the operator’s name and the 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 (see the article on illegal charter), so be sure your operator has an Air Carrier Certificate.
3.    What are the insurance limits for the aircraft to be chartered? – According to the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide, 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 size of the aircraft, etc. your insurance needs may change. Contact your insurance broker to discuss the intricacies of insuring aircraft charter 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 audits are:
Air Charter Safety Foundation
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’s Industry Audit Standard Operator Registry.  Visit ACSF website
ARG/US (Aviation Research Group/US)
ARG/US rates air charter providers as follows: DNQ (does not qualify), Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum. According to www.argus.aero , “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
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. Those operators who pass Wyvern’s audit procedures become Wyvern “recommended.” Visit Wyvern website 
IBAC
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. Visit IBAC website
6.   Other considerations – There are many other factors you may want to consider when booking a charter flight. Other resources include:
Aircraft charter is a fantastic choice for a variety of travel needs. Hopefully these tips will make buying aircraft charter a little easier and more understandable.
By Kimberly Page, © June, 2011.  Ms. Page has worked for Keystone Aviation since 1999 where she serves as Chief Financial Officer.  To send questions or comments  click here.
DISCLAIMER:  Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

Illegal Jet Charter Hurts Us All

Illegal Jet CharterThe risks of flying on an illegal jet charter are significant.

Why does it matter if your charter flight is operated by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized air carrier? All aircraft operators are the same, right? Wrong.

Illegal charters are operated by an entity that is not an FAA authorized air carrier. One of the greatest risks of illegal charter to both the passengers and the aircraft owner is the potential loss of insurance coverage. Imagine having no insurance coverage for an aircraft flight! Aircraft insurance policies often include a clause that nullifies the aircraft and liability insurance if the aircraft is operated in violation of the policy provisions which describe the aircraft use. Violation of this clause could completely invalidate the policy’s coverage, leaving the passengers unprotected!

According to the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), other risks of illegal charters include:

Oversight – The FAA and the Transportation Security Administration have much more oversight of a legal charter operator compared to an illegal operator. This oversight creates a safer, more secure operation.

Accountability – The FAA holds the legal air carrier to a very high standard and has the ability to hold the operation accountable for their actions or omissions.

Training – Pilots of a legal charter operator engage in mandatory, recurring training. Pilots of illegal operations are subjected to less stringent training requirements.

Maintenance – Aircraft used in a legal charter operation must be maintained to strict standards, and only highly trained maintenance personnel may perform maintenance on these aircraft.

Drug and Alcohol Testing – Pilots and mechanics for legal charter operators must undergo pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing. Illegal operators typically do not test their employees at all.

Experience – Legal charter operators require their pilots to have a relatively high level of experience. Specifically, pilots must have at least 1,200 hours of total flight time. Illegal operators do not have to follow these same standards.

Insurance Coverage – In addition to the possible loss of insurance coverage mentioned above, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires a minimum level of insurance coverage in order to obtain an air carrier certificate. Illegal operators may not have adequate insurance to cover injuries or loss of life or property in the case of an accident.

Illegal Jet Charter

So how do you determine if your charter operator is legal? 

If the charter pricing sounds too good to be true, it probably is. According to the NATA, “legal operators incur relatively high overhead costs to maintain the aircraft, train and test crewmembers, and stay compliant with FAA and TSA regulations. Illegal operators are able to offer significantly lower prices, but at much greater risk.”

Ask for the operator’s air carrier certificate number and for verification that the aircraft you will be flying on is listed on that certificate.

Call your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and inquire about the operator. The FSDO appropriate for your area can be found at: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/

Aircraft charter is a fantastic alternative for many businesses and individuals, but doing it safely and legally is in the best interest of the industry and its customers. If you have questions about planning a charter flight, Give Keystone Aviation a call.

By Kimberly Page, © June, 2011.

Ms. Page has worked for Keystone Aviation since 1999 where she serves as Chief Financial Officer and oversees corporate risk assessment. To send questions or comments click here.

DISCLAIMER:  Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

Eight Tips to Getting The Most Out Of Your Air Charter Dollars

Getting The Most Out Of Your Air Charter DollarsWheels-up at 7:35 a.m. Right on schedule. As the plane climbs through 12,000 feet you settle back into your seat with a hot cup of coffee and review your itinerary for the day: The shareholders meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. in Denver, back on the plane at 11:30 a.m. for lunch with your executive committee while enroute to Arizona, then a 2 o’clock in Scottsdale with your largest customer. If everything goes well, you’ll be back on the plane by 4:30 p.m. and home in time to make your daughter’s first lacrosse game.

More and more businesses are taking advantage of the benefits offered by private aircraft charter services. Flexibility, security and unparalleled comfort, give your business the competitive edge and agility to propel you on top…or to just keep you there. In this age of corporate belt tightening, you work hard to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of yourself, your employees and your travel budget. Here are eight ways to make sure you are getting your money’s worth out of your air charter.

1. Fill Up The Plane

The average midsize private/corporate jet holds eight passengers. Half of those seats fly empty on most chartered flights. When chartering, you pay for the whole plane. You might as well fill up those seats and reduce your per passenger trip costs. Consider taking an additional person or two to your meeting. Maybe take your sales manager along to scout out some prospective clients while you are in a different city for the day. You can even bring your spouse or child along to enjoy a day-trip out of town.

Example:  One of our customers, a local construction company, ended up winning a large building contract because they flew their entire production management team to the meeting with the potential customer.  Said their CEO, “For every question or concern that the customer had, we had the right person at the meeting to address it.  We never would have taken that many people if we didn’t have our own plane.  That plane is the reason we got the bid”.

2. Maximize In-Flight Productivity

Make the most of your time while in the air. Most private aircraft have adjustable seating. Turn your seats around in a club configuration and hold a meeting. (A meeting with a view, as I like to call it.) Better yet, order some catering and eat some lunch while you solve world peace. Catering doesn’t have to be a big, fancy thing. A simple box lunch or even a pizza can be just the ticket. Sometimes the best use of your time enroute will be to stretch out on the couch and catch a few Z’s. When you step off that plane, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle any issue that arises.

3. Pre-arrange Ground Transportation

Be sure to reserve your rental cars prior to departure. Many times you can request to have your vehicle delivered to your destination FBO (Fixed Base Operator) – or even pulled up to your plane when you land. This little convenience can be a huge time saver. Step off the plane, sign the rental agreement, and you are out of there!

4. Book One-day Trips

If at all possible, limit your travel to one day. Not only will you save money on overnight aircraft and pilot charges, you can also save hundreds, if not thousands, by avoiding extra car rental days, hotel rooms, meals, etc.

Note: Be sure to check with your charter operator to make sure your travel day will comply with pilot duty regulations.  The FAA requires your pilots to have sufficient rest between flights.

5. Multiple Legs

One of the great conveniences of private air travel is the ability to hit several stops all in one day. It would be virtually impossible to accomplish this feat with the airlines, but with charter, almost anything is possible. It is not uncommon to have our customers hit three or even four destinations, all in one day. No need to spend all week out on the road. Schedule multiple stops on your next trip and spend the rest of the week in your own office.

6. Remote Destinations

There are about 500 airports across the United States that are served by commercial airlines. In addition to these, there are approximately 4,500 smaller airports dotted across the country which private, or general aviation (GA), aircraft have access to.  If your destination is a small town or suburb with a population more than a few thousand, chances are, they have an airport where you can land. Need to go to Columbus, Nebraska? No need to fly to Omaha and then drive for another hour and forty minutes. Fly straight to Columbus!

7. Airport Meetings

Want to save even more time while traveling? Hold your next meeting at the airport!  Check with the FBO at your destination and see if they have a conference room that you can schedule for an hour or two. Sometimes there is a nominal fee for this amenity, but usually it’s free. No need for rental cars, driving directions or filling the car up before your return. Once you are done with your meeting, jump back on the plane and you’re off to your next destination.

8. Combination of the Above

Want to realize some serious productivity?  Employ several of the above ideas for your next business trip. With a little forethought, private aircraft charter can be a highly effective business tool.

By Richard G. Winwood, © November, 2010 Mr. Winwood has worked for Keystone Aviation since 1998.

DISCLAIMER:  Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.