Know Before You Go!
If you currently use private air charter you know how great it can be. You deal with less TSA regulation, you can get into smaller airports and make it to vacation destinations easier, you are not traveling with the general public, and it is on -demand based on your need. If you haven’t traveled by private charter, maybe that list of perks has you thinking about it! Either way, there are some things to know before you go!
All private charters are not created equal. When a company, or individual agrees to fly you from point A to point B and take payment for it, your first question should be – “Are you a certificated Air Carrier?” If their answer is no, there are some things you should be aware of. The FAA takes it seriously when the unsuspecting public pays for air transportation, so in order for a charter company to get the proper certification, they must meet certain requirements and submit all of the paperwork. This process is lengthy and very involved. Here is an abbreviated list of the requirements that a certificate holder must meet to ensure the safety of the traveling public:
- A written statement of compliance identifying how the air carrier will comply will all Federal Aviation Regulations that pertain to their operation.
- A pilot training program for initial and recurrent training and testing, which is usually every 6 months.
- A HAZMAT training manual designed to train employees on the identification of hazardous materials that may or may not be allowed on the flight.
- Proof that the pilot has a good driving and employment record.
- The air carrier must be enrolled in a Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing program for ALL charter pilots and mechanics used in their operation.
- The aircraft used for the charter are held to a much higher maintenance standard than what is required for other types of personal flights.
You might hear the term ‘Dry Lease’ when it comes to finding private air travel. This involves the customer paying the aircraft owner for use of the aircraft and then paying the pilot separately for his services. This is technically a legal way to provide air transport, but it does not require any of the stringent requirements with maintenance and pilot training. So, with a dry lease agreement, you actually can’t be certain you are receiving a high level of safety. Also be aware that if someone you know that’s a pilot owns an airplane and agrees to fly you for hire to where you need to go, even if they hold a commercial pilot certificate, that is an illegal operation and should be avoided. FAA-approved certificate holders are held to a much higher standard that allow a level of safety that you can trust as a paying passenger.