5 Reasons to Have Your Aircraft Professionally Managed

Buying an aircraft is a big purchase and a huge commitment. This means you want a management company who has the expertise and experience to ensure your aviation asset is protected, ultimately protecting you in the process.  Here are the top 5 reasons you should have your aircraft professionally managed – some might surprise you.

  1. Safety and Compliance: Buying and operating an aircraft involves greater regulations than most purchases, and with good reason. Depending on whether your use is for personal or business purposes, you must document your flights properly and abide by the applicable FAA regulations. You must also ensure a qualified crew is hired, and properly trained at an FAA certified facility. Keystone Aviation operates using the top safety programs in aviation. We are Air Charter Safety Foundation approved as well as an ARG/US Platinum Operator, and Wyvern Wingman Operator.  All of these programs are in place to ensure your aircraft is operated at the highest safety standards.
  2. Cost savings: The most common misconception among aircraft owners is that having your aircraft professionally managed means spending more because you have to pay the management company. Management companies, particularly part 135 management companies, actually help subsidize some of the cost of owning an aircraft. For example, Keystone Aviation has fuel contracts with all major world-wide fuel vendors, which means substantial fuel savings. Our fleet buying power also saves you money on maintenance, pilot training, and aircraft insurance.
  3. Charter: Keystone Aviation is a FAR Part 135 certified air carrier, which means it can charter your aircraft legally and safely, further reducing your aircraft cost with the charter revenue. Another major benefit of professional management with Keystone Aviation is that you get discounted rates on the entire fleet if you need to utilize another aircraft.
  4. Asset Protection: Tracking all of the details about an aircraft is a lot more complicated than you think. To do it meticulously and timely takes a whole team.  Keystone Aviation tracks all of the aircraft maintenance, subscriptions, documentation, and record keeping for your aircraft, as well as reconciling all expenses related to the operation of your aircraft and crew.  This not only keeps it running properly, but also enhances the value of your aircraft.
  5. Maintenance: Fixed wing aircraft require significant maintenance. Paying another company can cost extra money in excess fees for travel, oversight and tracking.  Keystone Aviation’s Salt Lake maintenance facility is an FAA approved, Part 145 Class IV repair station and is one of the largest maintenance providers in the Intermountain West.  This means, Keystone’s maintenance can work with most aircraft companies and maintenance programs to oversee them in-house.

To learn more about aircraft management, give Charlie Chamberlain a call at 801-933-7568.

Keystone Receives Diamond Award

FAA Keystone Aviation LLC- UAO Diamond Award
Keystone Aviation has received the FAA’s Diamond Award for excellence in Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) training. Both the Salt Lake City, UT and Aurora, OR maintenance locations were recognized for their commitment to providing the highest level of training and knowledge to benefit Keystone’s employees, the company and the customers they serve.

In October 1991, AFS-300 determined there was a need for an incentive program to encourage AMTs and employers to participate aggressively in available initial and recurrent maintenance training courses. Through the AMT Awards Program, the FAA recognizes eligible technicians and employers by issuing awards to those who receive or promote and foster initial and recurrent training.  Employers and individuals are recognized yearly, with Diamond Level being the highest award given to eligible employers.

As one of the few FAA Certified Class IV Repair Stations in the Intermountain West, Keystone Aviation is capable of repairing and maintaining any fixed wing aircraft.  With aircraft service available 7 days a week, on-call maintenance support avaible 24 hours a day, and a world-wide reach, Keystone Aviation is available anytime and anywhere to provide “The Complete Solution”

Celebrating 20 Years of The Complete Solution

coffee_bar_slide_16-1Keystone Aviation, a TAC Air company, is celebrating over 20 successful years as a world-class aircraft charter, management, maintenance and aircraft sales and brokerage provider.

Keystone Aviation’s roots date back to 1995 when it began as a franchise FBO operator. From there, Keystone Aviation rapidly expanded into other aviation service lines. During its first year, the Company added a Piper Aircraft dealership and service center and its maintenance department obtained FAA certification as a Part 145 Repair Station.

By 2007, Keystone Aviation had built a successful aircraft brokerage business, was appointed as a TBM Aircraft Dealership, and was selected to be one of only five HondaJet dealers in the United States.  Also during that time, Keystone Aviation’s maintenance department was granted the exclusive Class IV maintenance status by the FAA, authorizing Keystone Aviation technicians to work all types of fixed wing aircraft.

After 17 years of strategic growth, Texas-based wholesale refined petroleum products marketer and FBO network operator Truman Arnold Companies (TAC) recognized the value and potential of bringing Keystone Aviation into its operations.

Today, Keystone Aviation is stronger than ever. Aircraft sales territories are expanding across the United States and Canada and the FAA certified HondaJet is being delivered into the hands of excited customers. Charter services lead the industry in safety and are optimizing the use of an expanding fleet and renovated sales and ops facilities. More aircraft owners are realizing the value of “The Complete Solution®” for aircraft management services and maintaining it all is a maintenance department that is growing in technological expertise, accreditations and scope of operations with the addition of a Garmin Service Center and more.  And behind it all is Keystone Aviation’s amazing team of dedicated aviation service professionals who are among the best in the business.

Here’s to the next 20 years of aviation excellence!

5 Things You May Not Know About Keystone Aviation

  1. G550 cabin mid section club seatingIn 2015, we flew more than 4,000 flight hours with the destinations ranging from Page, Arizona to New Delhi, India and everywhere in between.
  2. In the last 20 years, Keystone Aviation has grown from 33 employees to almost 300.
  3. We are one of the few aviation service companies that can provide “The Complete Solution” for your aviation needs through our aircraft charter, management, maintenance and aircraft sales operations. We’re even a subsidiary of thee TAC Air FBO chain, so we’ve got fuel covered too!
  4. Our pilots average over 9,400 flight hours and 27 years of pilot experience.
  5. Keystone Aviation’s maintenance technicians are factory trained for Gulfstream, Hawker, Falcon, Cirrus, Cessna, HondaJet, TBM, and Piper.

Top 10 Reasons to Choose Salt Lake City for Aircraft Maintenance

  1. Who wouldn’t want to ski or snowboard while your aircraft is in maintenance?
  2. Salt Lake City based Keystone Aviation is the only Part 145 Class 4 Repair Station in the Intermountain West, allowing us to work on any fixed-wing aircraft.
  3. With 24 hour on-call availability, Keystone can be your resource for any AOG event while you’re in Salt Lake City this winter.
  4. Keystone can support not only the drop-in and unscheduled work, but we can also support your scheduled and phase inspections, MEL support, servicing needs or component replacement.  If you’re already in town for the skiing, known maintenance items can be preplanned and parts positioned in advance to keep downtime and costs to a minimum.
  5. Salt Lake City is the gateway to five of America’s most spectacular national parks:  Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef and Bryce Canyon.  If skiing in northern Utah doesn’t appeal to you, head south during your maintenance event and see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
  6. Keystone Aviation is ACSF, Wyvern, ARG/US accredited along with NATA Safety 1st and FAA Diamond Award recipients.
  7. Keystone Aviation has a fleet of Part 135 charter aircraft ranging from PC-12s to a Gulfstream G550 available if supplemental lift is needed.
  8. As a subsidiary of the TAC Air FBO chain, we have hangar space!  In the winter!  Really!
  9. Our technicians average 23 years of experience and are factory trained for Gulfstream, Citation, Hawker, Falcon and Bombardier products.
  10. Did we mention the Greatest Snow on Earth?

Contact Keystone Aviation at 888-900-6070

“There’s an APP for That” – Promoting Aviation Safety

We enjoy working in the fast paced general aviation industry.  While fun and exciting, this environment poses serious hazards that include, spinning propellers, jet engine blasts, and ground equipment moving every which way. The consequences of an accident could be devastating. Keystone Aviation is committed to promoting aviation safety.

How do we communicate best practices and promote behaviors that lead to a safer work environment, reduced damage, and injury claims? “There’s an App for that!”  No, we are not referring to the little icons on your electronic device that help you find the best restaurants or the latest movies near you.

When we use the term App, we are referring to Activities that Promote Prevention – “APP” What are we trying to prevent? …. Accidents! (which include employee injuries and damage to aircraft and equipment).

Often, all it takes is a little reminder to correct an unsafe behavior or to reinforce the training that leads to safe practices. Yes, you could say Wake Up! Pay Attention! Be Safe! But that only goes so far. We have found that if we identify the specific best practice or activity to increase awareness and promote it through visual reminders and training, people tend to retain and practice the activities until they become habits.

During our new hire orientation process, we introduce the program to the employees along with a list and explanation of previous Apps. We also use visual and video aids to better illustrate the message.

The APP Process

First, identify the best practice or the message you want to convey – most of the time it’s right in front of you. App messages can be found in:

  • Operating manuals
  • Industry standards
  • Results of hazards that have recently been identified through your Safety Management System (SMS)
  • Products of a near-miss or an incident that has occurred

Second, communicate the message in the form of posters, lanyard tags, post on the company intranet and use written instructions to blast the message to all employees in the company.

Lastly, monitor that the message is getting out and practiced. Observe the operation to measure the level of compliance. If we see an employee wearing a lanyard with an old App, we welcome the opportunity to educate and convey the new message. The App message becomes a month-long campaign.

APP Examples

  • “It’s Ok to Ask” – If you’re not 100% sure how to do it. ASK!
  • “No Running Vehicles” – Do Not leave any vehicle running while unattended.
  • “Red Tag It” – All employees are expected to Stop or Intervene when witnessing a potential hazard or unsafe situation.
  • “3’ Rule” – Maintain 3 feet of separation from other Aircraft or any Obstacle when parked.

So, the next time you hear, “There’s an app for that,” think about what you are doing to promote safety and reduce accidents in your organization and how you convey the message.


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.

Aircraft Pre-Purchase Inspections

Pre-Purchase InspectionsInvolving maintenance experts in an aircraft acquisition is time and money well spent!

One of the most exciting days in a person’s life is the day he or she purchases an aircraft. While this can be an exciting time, it also can be filled with pitfalls and challenges.  For this article, we will look at the maintenance issues that need to be examined during the aircraft acquisition process.

When buying an aircraft, it is important to have a qualified, neutral technician or organization do a proper pre-purchase inspection of the prospective aircraft. When Keystone Aviation purchases an aircraft for a client, we recommend just that. We also recommend doing a one or more of the manufacturer’s larger inspection(s) as part of the evaluation – this allows you to get more value for your dollar as you will have accomplished maintenance work that would have been required later.

Reasons to consult a qualified maintenance expert with your aircraft acquisition, include:

  • Pre-Purchase InspectionsPurchasing an aircraft without the benefit of an experienced airframe and powerplant mechanic can lead to big expenses and unsafe conditions right away or even later on.
  • An aircraft is a piece of machinery that can operate in diverse and extreme conditions. This operating environment places many different types of stress on the equipment.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration regulations require that the aircraft must be maintained to an “Airworthy” condition. This airworthy assessment may be accomplished by many different mechanics with different skill levels and standards for determining airworthiness.
  • In the past, we have seen individuals buying aircraft without the benefit of a quality pre-purchase evaluation and it almost always has led to a disappointing ownership experience, resulting in more downtime and more maintenance costs.
  • Many potential buyers are attracted to an aircraft that has new paint and interior because “it looks good.” These “cosmetic overhauls” could be hiding a host of problems that only a trained eye could spot. Paint can hide a multitude of problems, i.e. corrosion, damage, or poor repair workmanship.

Some of the areas that you want to have a maintenance expert look at are:

  • Pre-Purchase InspectionsAircraft records, (logbooks, etc.) – are they complete and accurate?
  • Aircraft damage history – has the aircraft been involved in an accident?
  • Airworthiness Directive (AD) status – are all applicable AD’s complied with and signed off properly?
  • Maintenance status – are all inspection requirements up to date?
  • Engine condition and history – is the engine performing as it should?
  • System operations – are they functioning normally?
  • Modifications and proper recording of the modifications – are all FAA form 337s, STCs accounted for?
  • Corrosion damage – where has the aircraft lived? Is there hidden corrosion?
  • Another important part of a pre-purchase evaluation is the acceptance flight. How does the aircraft handle? Does it seem to be in rig? Does it taxi OK? Do the gauges all agree with each other? Are there any excessive vibrations or flutters?

Tips for your pre-purchase evaluation:

  • When performing these evaluations always prepare and use a checklist so as not to forget any of the items that you want looked at.
  • Always start the pre-purchase evaluation with clear and well-defined parameters so that everyone involved (the buyer, seller and evaluator) are working from the same page.
  • In the end, a well performed evaluation can make the aircraft buying experience much easier and ownership more cost effective.

By Bill Hoddenbach, © December, 2011. Mr. Hoddenbach currently serves as Director of Maintenance for Keystone Aviation and has over twenty years of aircraft maintenance experience ranging from small piston to large commercial jet and rotorcraft aircraft. He holds an A&P Technician certificate and is a Private Pilot rated in both fixed-wing and rotorcraft aircraft. Mr. Hoddenbach has served as Vice-Chairman of NATA’s Maintenance Systems and Technology Committee.

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.