Welcome to the Keystone Aviation Blog

Keystone Aviation is a premier provider of executive aircraft charter, aircraft sales and management and aircraft maintenance. The Keystone Aviation Blog is where we talk about all things general aviation. Keystone Aviation is a TAC Air company.

Aircraft Charter

At Keystone Aviation, we are committed to safety, service and reliability. We participate in numerous safety programs, pilot and crew training programs, customer service training, and third-party audits to ensure that every flight meets the highest industry safety standards.

Aircraft Maintenance

The Keystone Aviation maintenance department was established in 1997 to provide first-class maintenance services for the company’s growing charter fleet. Over the years the department has grown to a Class IV Repair Station with 23 factory trained A&P technicians servicing everything from small, single-engine piston to large, Boeing/Airbus class aircraft.

Aircraft Sales & Brokerage

Over the past 20 years, Keystone Aviation has sold or brokered over a half a billion dollars worth of aircraft, including everything from small single-engine piston to large corporate jets. Let us help you avoid the pitfalls associated with your next aircraft transaction.

Aircraft Management

Over our 20 year history, Keystone Aviation has successfully managed over 35 private jet aircraft for owners ranging from individuals to Fortune 100 companies. Let us show you how aircraft ownership should be.

RED (rock), WHITE & BLUE

HondaJet over Lake Powell

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Nowhere is this more true than in the photogenic pairing of the white and blue HondaJet and the red rock region of Utah. Keystone’s Jerry Osoro and Jeff Jerman recently piloted the HondaJet in close formation with world-renowned aviation photographer Paul Bowen.  The results were spectacular, and the experience was a highlight of their shared HondaJet journey.  Jeff Jerman summarized the experience:

flight courseThe HondaJet photoshoot was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I felt very fortunate to be a part of Paul Bowen’s work. He’s a renowned aviation photographer, having completed countless photoshoots over the years; including over 1000 magazine covers involving aviation.

 Our day began by heading south for sunset shots over the majestic shadows of Zion National Park. Mr. Bowen knew exactly where to lead the HondaJet to get that “it” picture. Seeing the chic curvatures of the Honda Over-the-Wing-Engine-Mounts (OTWEM) slicing through canyons only enhanced the natural beauty of Utah’s landscape. It was a sunset I’ll never forget.

 We ended up at Lake Powell that evening for an early morning departure the following day. As we briefed over dinner, it was humbling to hear the many stories Paul spoiled us with. You see, this photoshoot ended up being more than just a photoshoot. Earlier in the day, many of us were saddened by the news that Bob Hoover had passed away. Paul was very close to Mr. Hoover. He told story after story of how inspiring Mr. Hoover was, including a few that had our stomach muscles hurting from laughter. It was truly a memorable evening.

 Day 2 began bright and early for sunrise shots over Lake Powell. The still air was reminiscent of the glassy water beneath us. We followed Paul in his supercharged Bonanza, wondering how in the world we were actually getting paid to do this. We were cloud-surfing with no one around, as if we were the only bird in the sky. After 2 hours of making art trails, we headed north back to SLC. It was another HondaJet memory I’ll never forget.

Why to Look for Wyvern, ARGUS and ACSF When Booking a Private Charter Flight

Clearly, nothing is more important than safety.   At Keystone Aviation, safety is the cornerstone of our organization and a core value we strive for in every aspect of our business.  But how do you know which aircraft charter companies go above and beyond with regards to safety?   One way to identify the most safety conscious organizations is through safety certifications from independent aviation auditing firms.

Independent aviation auditors develop audit standards that incorporate both required operational and safety procedures as well as the latest in best practices.  These firms then audit a charter company’s manuals, processes and operations against the audit standard and issue a certification.  You can look for these certifications from operators who provide aircraft charter services.  Here are some of the safety certifications to look for when booking a private charter flight:

Wyvern

WyvernWingmanWyvern Consulting was one of the first aviation safety auditing firms in the country.  Wyvern offers different levels of audits, so be sure to clarify which level your charter company has achieved.

  • Registered Operator – The Wyvern Registered Operator program is an entry-level program in which operators provide their records for Wyvern to have on file. These records are available for Wyvern’s clients to review under its PASS program which allows third parties to check that an aircraft, crew and trip plan meet certain standards.  Registered Operators have not been audited by Wyvern.
  • Wingman * – The Wyvern Wingman is the certification issued to aircraft operators who have been audited against Wyvern’s audit standard. Operators at this level have successfully demonstrated that their processes reflect the latest safety best practices.   As of May 2015, only about 100 operators worldwide were members of the Wingman program.

ARG/US

Argus_PlatinumThe Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US) audits an operator’s flights, insurance, maintenance records and processes to ensure they meet or exceed FAA standards.  There are four ARG/US certification levels:

  • DNQ – Does Not Qualify
  • Gold Rating –Historical information on the operator’s commercial certificate, pilots and aircraft are compiled and scored by ARG/US. This information is compared against an aggregate group with similar exposures to determine if the applicant is eligible for the Gold Rating.   Those operators with a Gold Rating have not been audited by ARG/US.
  • Gold Plus Rating – The Gold Plus Rating is awarded to operators who meet all of the criteria for a Gold Rating and have completed an on-site safety audit or maintain an IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations) registration.
  • Platinum Rating * – The Platinum Rating is the highest level that can be achieved in the ARG/US rating system. Platinum is only awarded to experienced operators who meet the criteria for Gold, and pass the ARG/US Platinum on-site safety audit.   A Platinum Rating requires a well-developed Safety Management System and an Emergency Response Plan, in addition to effective processes and documented records for all major aspects of aircraft operations and maintenance.

Air Charter Safety Foundation Registration

acsf_logoThe Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) Industry Audit Standard (IAS) has been developed with the input and guidance of leading safety auditors, charter operators, shared aircraft ownership companies and charter consumers.  The Industry Audit Standard is a revolutionary program built from the ground up by ACSF to set the standard for the independent evaluation of an air charter operator’s and/or shared ownership company’s safety and regulatory compliance.  The ACSF audit is one of the most comprehensive audits in the aviation industry.

  • ACSF IAS Registered Operator * – After completing an on-site audit against the ACSF Industry Audit Standard, the auditors’ recommendations are reviewed and approved by an independent review board which decides whether the charter company will be admitted as an ACSF IAS Registered Operator.

The asterisks (*) above indicate the certifications that have been achieved by Keystone Aviation.

Now that you understand some of the aviation industry safety certifications, you can make more informed decisions when choosing not only a charter company, but an aircraft management company as well.   Here’s to safe flying!

Traveling to Europe? Here’s what you should pack

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Traveling to Europe is a wonderful opportunity not everyone gets to experience.  If you are one of the lucky ones and are looking forward to your first trip to Europe, there are a few questions that can sneak up on you last minute. One main question, and perhaps the one that generates the most panic, is “what do I pack?”  Here we have listed a few essential items (and non-essential) to make sure you don’t over or under pack, ensuring your Europe vacation is an easy and exciting adventure.

  1. DO pack a plug adapter. When traveling to another country it’s easy to forget their infrastructure is completely different from the United States.  The United States runs their wall plugs at 120V (120 volts).  Europe’s wall plugs, which I should mention are a completely different shape than the United States plugs, average 230V.   This is a substantial difference.   If you bring the adapter, be wary of what you plug in from the United States because the voltage could burn it up. You will need the adapter however, if you plan to charge your phone with a charger from the United States.
  2. DON’T pack any electrical grooming tools, i.e. hair dryer/shaver/curling irons. This coincides with tip #1. All of these items are made for the United States, and therefore run with 120V. If you use them with your adapter, they may burn up and/or overheat and turn off. Most hotels carry blow dryers, and if you are desperate for a shaver, go for store bought. Girls, use curlers.
  3. DO pack a power bank. When you go to Europe, it’s inevitable that you will be walking around exploring all the sites.  More than likely, you will also have a nice camera plus your phone to take pictures.  It’s easier to use your phone to snap a quick picture than it is a full size camera, and for this reason you will want to keep it charged.  No matter what phone you have, its battery will not be enough.  Buy a power bank that will fully charge your phone up to 4 times and you will be happy you didn’t risk missing those once in a lifetime moments!
  4. DON’T over pack. Sure, this is a general statement and everyone says, “I’m only going to pack the essentials.”   In this case, it’s important to really narrow down what you need for your trip so you can travel efficiently (there’s a lot to see in Europe!).  Plan an outfit for every day, even better, plan your outfits using some of the same items repeatedly.  No, I’m not saying you should wear dirty clothes. There are lots of laundromats in Europe and it’s easy to stop in to do a few loads, especially if you are going to be there for over 10 days.  Plus, let’s all just admit once and for all, when we travel, we really only end up wearing about two outfits anyway.
  5. DO use compression bags for your clothes. I was very skeptical of this item when I first thought to buy it for Europe.  I kept asking myself, “Does it really save space? Or is it just a waste of money.”  The truth is, the bags save just enough space that you will be happy you bought them.  If you plan to bring a larger bag, then get a few large compression bags.  These bags will help you keep your clean and dirty clothes sorted as well as make that extra space you need for those last few items you plan to squeeze in your bag.

On a side note, here’s an extra tip that I really wish someone would have told me before I went to Europe:

If you plan to rent a car, make sure you call your credit card company before hand and ask if they provide full insurance coverage for rental cars in Europe.  It’s unlikely that your automotive insurance will cover rental cars from different countries and it’s very expensive to insure a car through the rental agency in Europe. Booking it on a credit card that provides full coverage will save you a ton of money!

 

Now that you know how to pack (and how to rent a car), get out there and see this amazing world of ours!

The Five Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Buying an Aircraft

Robb Report’s private aviation advisors identify the costly errors and tell you how to prevent buyer’s remorse.

 You’ve decided to buy an airplane instead of continuing to use charter services. Now what?  The market offers an overwhelming number of choices in new aircraft models, each with its own set of variables to consider, including speed, range, cabin amenities, seating options, and overhead costs. When buying a pre-owned aircraft, you have those factors plus many more to consider, such as the plane’s vintage, its maintenance history, its possible need of major repairs and refurbishment, and its cost relative to others of its kind on the market. The task of choosing the right plane may be daunting, but it’s only the starting point in a long process that can be fraught with pitfalls.

The acquisition of an aircraft is a complex transaction that can trigger many unexpected expenses for inexperienced buyers. Members of the Robb Report Private Aviation Advisory Board weigh in on five common and costly mistakes that first-time buyers make and how to avoid them.

1. Believing Everything You Hear
Don’t assume you know how much an aircraft is actually worth and how much another buyer paid for a similar plane. The community of aircraft buyers and sellers is relatively small, yet accurate information about past sales is still hard to come by. According to Kevin O’Leary, the president and CEO of Jet Advisors, buyers and sellers don’t always disclose the transaction’s financial contingencies when they talk about the price of a jet. “Someone may tell you that he sold his plane for $1.5 million but neglect to say that he had to spend $600,000 on maintenance before the sale went through because he sold it right before a major overhaul,” says O’Leary. “Buyers and sellers are optimistic about how well they did on a deal, but the details are always different.”

O’Leary cautions buyers to be wary of any numbers thrown around by other buyers, and to be especially cautious when a motivated seller or broker claims that a particular price is the deal of the century.

2. Failing to Consider the Production Run
Be cautious when buying an aircraft that has just been released or one that’s on its way out of production. “If you are buying at the beginning or the end of a production run, there are financial implications and other maintenance issues,” says Peter Agur, the chairman of the VanAllen Group.

The first few aircraft on a new production line may be subject to more maintenance tics as they’re broken in, and because it’s a new model, you may have trouble hiring a qualified pilot.
To exemplify the problem with buying an aircraft that’s being phased out by the manufacturer, Agur cites the Gulfstream G450, which, it appears, will be replaced by the G500. He says the G450’s resale value is declining as the G500’s delivery date (2017) approaches. “As I look to replace my current aircraft with a G450/G500-class aircraft, which will I choose?” says Agur. “I want an aircraft that has the attributes of advanced technology and current production. I’ll order a G500. That decision process drives customers toward future models and makes the current model more difficult to sell.” However, if you know an aircraft is near the end of its production run, you can use that information to negotiate a good price.

Agur and other board members also caution against buying an aircraft that has been highly modified by a previous owner. If, for instance, the owner had digital avionics retrofitted into an older-model airplane, you might have trouble finding someone to service the aircraft. “You could end up with an aircraft that no one knows how to service except the guys who installed the equipment,” says Agur.

3. Giving the Seller a Pass on Inspections
Don’t agree to a deal without first insisting that the plane go through a rigorous prepurchase inspection. Lee Rohde, the president and CEO of Essex Aviation Group, tells his clients that the inspection should be conducted at a facility other than the one that regularly maintains that aircraft. “Part of the inspection process is having the records examined for the whole life of the aircraft,” he says. This involves checking life-limited serialized components (those that must be replaced at regular intervals) in addition to confirming that regular engine overhauls took place. Inspectors also must be able to verify that any parts were sourced and replaced according to the manufacturer’s dictates.

The inspection is vital, yet many buyers forego it. “I’ve had clients refuse a prepurchase inspection because they knew the seller personally and felt a lot of trust for that person,” says Agur. “But there can be enormous maintenance issues—including corrosion—that the seller doesn’t know about.”

“I don’t care if you’re buying the aircraft from your brother,” says O’Leary. “Unless he’s the pilot or the mechanic, he doesn’t know that aircraft. He’s riding in the back, reading the Wall Street Journal.”

If you plan to make the plane available for charter after you purchase it, your aircraft management company has to have it inspected to ensure that it conforms to FAA requirements. “You could be in for a lot of expenses to get that plane ready for charter,” says Rohde, “and you should know about those before you buy.”

4. Not Preparing for the Sales Tax
Don’t buy an aircraft assuming you can avoid paying the sales tax, which can be substantial. “It’s true that most purchasers pay a limited amount of sales tax on this kind of purchase, but that’s because they did the proper planning from the beginning,” says Keith Swirsky, the president of GKG Law. “If you call an advisor after you take title, there’s typically nothing they can do for you.”

An aviation lawyer can help you structure the deal so that it complies with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Swirsky says that many buyers assume they can create a limited-liability company (LLC) that will take title to the aircraft, and thereafter operate the aircraft. However, for operations under FAR Part 91 (the section of the Federal Aviation Regulations that governs noncommercial operation), the FAA doesn’t consider a specially formed LLC a viable ownership structure. “According to the FAA, such operations would be prohibited,” says Swirsky.

5. Trying to Go It Alone
Purchasing an aircraft is not like buying a home or a yacht or any other large and expensive item. It has more in common with setting up a new business, one that has its own technology, its own set of regulations, and its own culture. “Trying to do it on your own—not using specialists in law, taxes, and transactions—is a mistake,” says Rohde. “They can help you identify which airplane makes the most sense.”

“It’s difficult for any one person to accumulate enough knowledge about how to see a good deal,” says O’Leary, noting that even aviation consultants tend to focus on a single class of aircraft because so much goes into evaluating a plane.

Yet some buyers want to preserve their privacy by having a family office handle the purchase, or they want to rely on a pilot as the expert who will guide them through the purchase. “There are so many facets to buying an airplane, and so many opportunities for misunderstanding what’s happening,” says Agur. “I had a client who had done hundreds of millions of dollars in deals over the years, and he told me that this was the one time when he didn’t know what to negotiate. He didn’t even know which details were critical in the purchase.”

Buyers who arm themselves with the right advice can avoid feeling overwhelmed, and they can avoid the costly mistakes that go with that feeling.

Source: http://robbreport.com/aviation/five-biggest-mistakes-you-can-make-when-buying-aircraft

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 HondaJet Conquers the Concours

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McCalls Motorworks Revival

Keystone's HondaJet at Monterey Jet Center

Keystone’s HondaJet at Monterey Jet Center

Monterey Car Week.  The name conjures up a vision of spectacular automobiles displayed in one of the planet’s most spectacular settings. The week comes to a close at Concours d’elegance, a world-renowned event considered to be the most prestigious of its kind. People in the know however, begin their week with an equally sought-after ticket:  The McCalls Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center. This year, the Keystone Aviation HondaJet was an acknowledged star, the centerpiece of the most exclusive combined automotive-aviation event in the world. Nearly one thousand special guests had the opportunity to try the new jet on for size, have their photo taken while relaxing in the leather seats, and have their questions answered by Keystone’s HondaJet specialists and pilots.

Keystone’s HondaJet at Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance

On the surface, another combined event known as the Morgan Adams Concours d’elegance appears to be a close cousin to the Monterey party. However, a longer look revealed a much deeper, and in many ways much more thought provoking experience.  Over 1,500 guests entered the APA TAC Air facility through a hall lined with large photographs of dozens of children. Only a careful examination of each photograph revealed a sad fact: all of these happy-looking kids suffer from cancer.  Each and every one of our fellow exhibitors, and each and every one of the attendees who bought a ticket to view our HondaJet was contributing to a larger, more noble cause.  Those of us from Keystone fortunate enough to participate were a bit more careful in our step, and a little quieter in our usual ‘sales pitch’.  It served as a reminder of how lucky most of us truly are, and how gratifying it is to be able to contribute.

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.

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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.”

HondaJet Tour Visits the Bay Area

Bird's-eye view from the HondaJet of San Francisco Airport

Bird’s-eye view from the HondaJet of Almeda Island in  Oakland, CA

After a great turn-out in Denver, Colorado the next stop on the HondaJet tour included a display of the aircraft on March 16th   at the San Jose International Airport, and March 17th at the Oakland International Airport.

This was the first time a HondaJet has visited either of these locations, and the Bay Area was very excited to see the aircraft first-hand. Each HondaJet static display allows attendees to see this remarkable aircraft up-close and in-person. “The people we meet during the tour enjoy learning about the the airplane” says Jeff Jerman, Keystone Aviation pilot and sales representative.

HondaJet at Static Display

HondaJet at Static Display

No matter where the HondaJet visits, it attracts a great deal of attention. The HondaJet’s truly original structure and features drive people to learn more about the aircraft. As one of the few completely new aircraft designs to be attempted in the last 15 years, the HondaJet is truly a unique and innovative sight to behold.

For more information about the next stop in the HondaJet tour contact: Mike Parker at 801.933.7509.

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.