Charter Management vs Private Management

B0001057_drueditCharter Management vs. Private Management

Keystone Aviation offers multiple ways to access our charter fleet, but we also offer multiple aircraft management options in the form of charter management and private management.

Charter Management

  • Personalized aircraft management, with the added benefit of charter revenue to reduce the cost of aircraft ownership
  • All charters are subject to the aircraft owner’s approval, ensuring the aircraft is available when the owner needs it
  • Customizable management services, including pilot services, regulatory compliance support, trip planning, and detailed expense reporting
  • Significant savings on aircraft services including fuel, maintenance, insurance, and training
  • We take meticulous care of the aircraft and its owner while putting the aircraft to work both in the air and on the books

Private Management

  • Aircraft management exclusively for the owner’s use, i.e. no charter utilization
  • Customizable management services, including pilot services, regulatory compliance support, trip planning, and detailed expense reporting
  • Significant savings on aircraft services including fuel, maintenance, insurance, and training
  • Safe and cost effective way to enjoy aircraft ownership without all of the day-to-day complications

Want to know more about aircraft management?  Give us a call at 801-933-7568 so we can discuss a management program that will fit your needs.

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!

The ‘Flight’ Against Cancer

Loading up to go to Driggs

TAC Air employees help load up golf clubs

On August 19, 2016, Keystone Aviation’s charter department once again answered the call for the fight against cancer.  For the 7th straight year, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation called upon Keystone Aviation to Accomplish an airlift of golfers from Salt Lake City to Driggs, Idaho for a day of golf at the Huntsman Springs Golf Course.


Part of Keystone Aviation’s fleet ready to take flight

Each foursome donated $50,000 to attend and all proceeds went to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.   TAC Air SLC donated fuel and line services while Keystone donated pilot services and arranged for owners to donate aircraft.


The President & COO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Susan Sheehan, said “Huntsman Cancer Foundation is grateful for the generous, consistent support we have received from Keystone Aviation each year since 2010.  Thanks to Keystone’s steadfast commitment to the fight against cancer, our foundation had been able to foster teamwork by offering gatherings to top industry leaders.  This has allowed us to unite leaders who have the will, passion and financial resources to speed cancer research.  In all, this effort has raised $7 million for cancer research since 2010 – and thanks to Keystone, all those funds fueled cancer research – not airplanes.  Through creativity and entrepreneurial know how, Keystone is literally Changing the DNA of Cancer Care.”

Keystone Aviation’s HondaJet Tour Takes Flight


Keystone Aviation, the exclusive Northwest HondaJet dealer for the United States, kicked off its HondaJet demonstration tour with an event in Denver on February 15th. The event was held in TAC Air APA at Centennial Airport, where more than 100 people got the chance to see the world’s most advanced light jet on display.

Hondajet-sales-territory“We are very excited to introduce the HondaJet to the Colorado business aviation community,” said Kim Page, Chief Operating Officer of Keystone Aviation.

The event marked the beginning of Keystone Aviation’s tour throughout the Northwestern United States. The tour will highlight the HondaJet’s best-in-class advantages in performance, efficiency, comfort, and quality.

The HondaJet received type certification from the FAA and began customer deliveries in December. With upcoming events in Northern California and throughout the Northwestern United States, Keystone Aviation is celebrating the HondaJet’s certification by exhibiting the aircraft’s innovative design, capabilities and value.

Keystone Aviation’s Northwest sales territory  includes: Northern California, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Northern Nevada. If you are interested in more information on the HondaJet or the demo tour, please contact Michael Parker at 801.933.7509.

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.

Benefits of Aircraft Management

Benefits of Aircraft ManagementWe talk a lot about the many benefits of aircraft management, but not everyone knows exactly what aircraft management means.  So we thought we would take a few minutes to answer the question:  What is Aircraft Management?

Most people have heard of property management where the owner of an asset hires a third-party to take care of the asset.  Property management is often used by owners of rental properties, such as apartment and office buildings, who don’t have the time or inclination to keep up with the maintenance and day-to-day operations of those properties.

Aircraft management is the same concept as property management, but applied to aircraft.  An aircraft is a fantastic tool to enhance your business and elevate your personal life, but most aircraft owners would rather focus on their business and their family, not on the operation of their aircraft – that’s where aircraft management comes into play.

The owner of an aircraft can enlist the services of an aircraft management company to oversee the many facets of aircraft ownership.  Airplanes are complex machines subject to many rules and regulations.  Keeping an aircraft compliant, well-maintained and safely operated can be a daunting undertaking without the expertise offered by an aircraft management company.

However, most aircraft management companies will allow an owner to pick-and-choose which services they need – an al-a-carte menu if you will.  Aircraft owners can often choose from a wide variety of services, including:

  • Aircraft scheduling
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • FAA compliance services
  • Fleet insurance discounts
  • Pilot services
  • Pilot training
  • Volume fuel purchasing
  • Aircraft record keeping
  • Safety Management Systems
  • Part 135 charter revenue opportunities
  • And the list goes on…

Some owners want a turn-key experience where the management company acts as an agent in order to coordinate everything from the maintenance and insurance to the daily flight operations.  Other owners just want assistance with the regulatory or compliance aspects.  Regardless of the owner’s needs, aircraft management provides expertise and resources to make aircraft ownership as simple as possible.

8 Reasons to Choose Aircraft Management

Let’s face it, airplanes are complex machines, but we believe a Keystone Aviation managed aircraft can be a valuable tool to enhance your business and elevate your personal life. When you consider regulations, safety, training and insurance, among other things, the complexity associated with operating an aircraft can be rather daunting.  Management companies provide expertise and experience to navigate these complexities and to make aircraft ownership as simple as possible.

So here are 8 reasons to use an aircraft management company.

8 Reasons to Choose Aircraft Management

Convenience – One of the major benefits of aircraft management is the convenience.  With one phone call, an aircraft owner can schedule a flight.  The management company takes care of all of the details, including:  checking the crew’s certifications and rest requirements, ensuring aircraft maintenance compliance, assigning the crew, fueling, hangar needs, ground handling, crew accommodations and transportation, de-icing, catering, etc.  The management company will often arrange passenger accommodations and transportation as well.  However, the convenience of aircraft management reaches beyond coordinating flights; in fact, all of the benefits listed in this article play a part in the convenience provided by aircraft management.

Safety – Clearly, safety is always the primary concern when it comes to operating an airplane.  Management companies offer safety programs and processes aimed at enhancing the safety of your aircraft’s operations.  From independent audits to Safety Management Systems, management companies have the resources and the expertise to focus on safety.

Asset Protection – Did you know that approximately 20% of an aircraft’s value is in its logbooks?  Without proper maintenance, documentation and record keeping, the value of your aircraft can be significantly diminished.   Management companies provide the services needed to protect the value of your asset, such as maintenance tracking programs, outsourced maintenance oversight and even fireproofed storage for your aircraft logbooks.

Compliance – Complying with FAA regulations is not an easy task, but being out of compliance can be costly.  Aircraft management companies employ professionals in various disciplines from flight operations to maintenance to taxes who are there to help navigate the complexities of aircraft laws and regulations.

Cost Savings – Management companies can often achieve economies of scale which generate cost savings for the aircraft owner.  For example, management companies that operate multiple aircraft purchase more fuel for their combined fleet than a single aircraft owner.  Thus, the management company can often negotiate lower fuel prices than an aircraft owner can on their own.  These economies of scale can translate to savings in training costs, hangar rates, insurance premiums and many other areas.

8 Reasons to Choose Aircraft Management

Charter Revenue – Management companies which also operate charter aircraft can provide yet another advantage.  Specifically, the management company can often charter an aircraft when it is not in use by the owner (with the owner’s approval of course).  This charter revenue can then be used by the owner to reduce his/her operating costs, making aircraft ownership more economical.

Staff Management – While aircraft management agreements differ, often the management company employs the pilots, mechanics, bookkeepers, record keepers and flight attendants needed to operate an aircraft.  This arrangement allows the management company to alleviate the aircraft owner from the burden of payroll and benefits administration, HR compliance, employee training, etc.  This arrangement also generates cost savings in that the aircraft owner isn’t required to pay wages for people her/she only needs occasionally.

Reporting – A management company will often provide detailed reporting of aircraft expenses to the owner.  Keystone Aviation sends out reports monthly to aircraft owners which detail expenses by cost categories such as fuel, catering, maintenance, etc.  Management companies can also track expense trends over time and help to identify cost saving opportunities. Let us know if you need a specific set of metrics for reporting and we can customize a report on any interval needed. We just started utilizing new fuel purchasing software; look for new fuel reports coming soon!

So now you know more about the many benefits of aircraft management and why it is a great choice for so many aircraft owners.


“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.