When Is It Best to Charter a Private Jet?

 

2013-05-21-18-07-43-2-300x300Private jet charter is a fantastic way to travel – it can enhance your business and elevate your personal life. So when is it best to charter a private jet or other type of aircraft, instead of a commercial flight?

You’re Planning a Short Trip to a Destination and Back – Private jet charter works really well for short (1-3 day) trips to a destination and then back.  These quick trips allow the charter company to get the most out of its fleet and allow you to get the most value for your charter dollar.

You Need to Go to a Remote Destination – For many businesses, getting to remote locations is a real challenge.  Frequently, business people who need to go to a meeting at a remote destination will spend the day before the meeting and the day after the meeting just on travel.    A charter flight can often land at smaller airports situated closer to these far-away places saving time and, thereby, money.  A business that can cut days of travel out of a work week, will gain not only more productive employees, but also more loyal employees.

You Need to Meet with Your Team – Have you ever tried to have a private conversation on a commercial flight?  It’s basically impossible.  On a charter flight, you can meet with your colleagues en-route to your destination and then de-brief on the way home, all without the fear of being overheard by the people in the next aisle.  Not only does this privacy protect a company’s valuable information, but it also allows for more productive travel time.

You’re Traveling with Multiple Team or Family Members – If you need to take multiple people to a destination, a private jet charter becomes a more economic choice.  The price of the charter flight generally doesn’t change with the number of passengers, so if you put more passengers on the plane, the cost per passenger goes down.  Arriving for a presentation with multiple people representing each of their respective disciplines can be very impactful.  By the same token, having quality time with your entire family, as opposed to just the family member sitting next to you is an advantage as well.

You’d Like to Stop at Multiple Destinations in a Short Amount of Time – Private jet charters can get you to two and three cities in a day, something you could never do on a commercial flight.  Again, saving a business time, saves money and improves the personal lives of employees who are able to spend less time on the road.

Hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought and the next time you plan a trip using commercial flights, you’ll give private jet charter a try.  It can literally change your life and business for the better.

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.

 

Tips for Booking a Private Jet Charter

Booking a Private Jet Charter

There are countless people every day flying for both business and pleasure. While many opt to travel via commercial flights, there are those who prefer the ease, comfort, and convenience of booking a private jet charter. Taking a private charter to any of your chosen destinations is surely one of the best ways to fly.

Whether you’re booking your very first private jet charter or you’re hoping to fly privately again soon, here is a list of friendly tips that you should try to remember when booking a private jet charter:

  • Book Your Flight Early – A lot of people are looking to book private charter flights, so it is always recommended that you book your flight at the earliest possible time. Booking early will help you avoid problems with scheduling or the availability of the aircraft that best suits your flight needs.
  • Know the Number of Passengers for Your Flight – Knowing the number of passengers is important to a smooth, safe, and comfortable flight. The number of people who are going to travel with you is important because it will be a factor in selecting the aircraft which will best meet your needs. Always have this information ready before booking your flight.
  • Choose a Reputable Charter Company – This is probably the best advice you can get when booking a private jet charter. One of the ways to identify a reputable charter company is to ask to see their Air Carrier Certificate.  Making sure your aircraft operator is a legal, FAA certificated operator is an important regulatory, safety and insurance consideration, so be sure your operator has an Air Carrier Certificate.  Also, verify that the aircraft you will be flying on is listed on that certificate
  • Find Out the Details– Ask the charter company about insurance limits, crew member experience and whether or not the operator is independently audited – then evaluate the results with your risk managers.  There are many other factors you may want to consider when booking a charter flight. Other resources include:
  • Get Help – Brokers and operators will often vet charter companies for you (for a fee of course).  But with many details to be gathered, using a third party may be helpful to you.

Private jet charter is a fantastic way to travel and, hopefully, now you know a little more about booking a jet charter trip.

9 Things to Know Before Purchasing Your Own Airplane

It would be safe to say that each of us have dreamed of owning an aircraft. Whether you are thinking big or small, if you plan on purchasing your own airplane, don’t end up regretting on your choice. Let these tips help you plan ahead and get the perfect aircraft that fits you.

Buy or Charter?

First, let’s take a look at the buy or rent dilemma. Though owning your own aircraft gives you flexibility and an unmatched experience over chartering one, there are instances where your best choice is to charter. Decide which is better considering factors such as expected usage and the financial impact.

New or Used?

A brand new airplane almost always means better performance and warranty coverage. Of course, new also means a higher price. There are a lot of used aircraft on the market that can meet a variety of needs, with a smaller price tag.  Considering all factors in a well thought out mission comparison along with a price and cash flow analysis will help determine the correct path.

Purpose

Will the plane be used for business or for leisure? How often will you fly and for how long on each trip? How you plan to use the aircraft will answer a lot of questions, including the two questions above, as well as the aircraft type and model that you should consider.

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget and sticking to the budget is an effective way to ease the process. From there, search for the best aircraft you can find that’s within your price range. Having a budget set for your aircraft purchase, as well as its operation will help narrow the list of aircraft options and help ensure the aircraft will be successfully integrated into your financial picture.

Aircraft Speed

Does it matter how fast you will get to your destinations? For aircraft, better speed comes with a greater price.   If it is a necessity, then consider it as factor.

Examine

Check your aircraft choices thoroughly. Once you have narrowed the choices down to a handful, it’s time to look at the aircraft.   There are many items to inspect on an aircraft, including paint, maintenance records, aircraft logbooks, avionics, entertainment systems, interiors, and the list goes on.

Don’t fall for love at first sight. Getting fixated on a certain aircraft will may keep you from finding the best one to suit your needs. Search, collect, compare, and select.

Advice

Obviously, there is a lot to consider when choosing a private aviation option, including purchasing an aircraft.  Seeking the advice of an experienced aviation advisor, like Keystone Aviation, will help you sort through many of the details, including budgets for various aircraft, the attributes of the aircraft on the market, inspections, etc…

Early Financing Approval

Getting the financing aspect ready early in the process will help determine what price range you are going to target. Having the financing done early will also allow you to concentrate on choosing the right aircraft and to make an offer immediately once you find the one.

Insurance

Aircraft insurance can be costly, but can save you lot of headaches down the road. There are a lot of resources over the web to learn more about aircraft insurance. Check with brokers for quotes that you think will work best for you.

Summary

Since all of these issues are important, we highly recommend your first call is to an established and reputable aircraft broker.  Find one that is willing to talk to you at some length and without any fees up front.  Then, if you feel comfortable, enter into an agreement to have the broker represent you.  The contract is negotiable, but having sound, experienced advice should ultimately result in saving more than the broker is paid.

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.

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.

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.

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.