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Flying in Style
How to choose a private jet charter operator

Traveling in a private jet minimizes your time spent waiting in airports, and maximizes your productivity. It also enables you to get away more often.

As the pace of your life accelerates, it's clear that your time has become too valuable to spend in airports, waiting for delayed flights to activities or meetings that have to be postponed until you arrive! You begin thinking about private jet charter - a faster, easier, more-customized way to travel to your destination.

Flying in a private jet is one of the safest and most luxurious ways to travel. Unlike commercial airlines, private jets fly in and out of smaller suburban airports that are closer to departure and destination points. In addition, smaller airports typically do not have the long lines or delays passengers have come to expect at any of today's large urban airports.

To find a jet charter operator with high safety standards and great professional credentials, follow these three critical steps: (1) research one or more charter operators that seem acceptable; (2) validate the operator's safety records and professional standards; and (3) select the aircraft that will best suit your needs.

Step 1

  • Identify the right charter operator
    Yes, you could check the local Yellow Pages or a favorite search engine to locate charter companies. However, there won't be any information about the quality of individual companies there, other than what is written in advertisements created by the companies themselves. A better source for overall quality is a charter broker who uses only officially rated operators or an auditing company such as Aviation Research Group (ARG/US; aviationresearch.com).

    Step 2

  • Validate the charter company
    The next step is verifying the charter company's advertising claims through official documentation. In order to simplify this sometimes complicated task, you can break the process down into three categories: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documentation, insurance, and third-party audits.
    - FAA Documentation: Each charter company must have a valid Part 135 air taxi certificate, which authorizes it to fly for hire. Obtaining a Part 135 certificate requires the charter company to adhere to tough FAA guidelines and is strictly enforced by the FAA. Unfortunately, there are some charter companies that will attempt to fly under the less strict Part 91 (owner flown) regulations. These rules have far less FAA oversight, and for this reason, the liability of the passenger is increased. Therefore, it's important not only to ask for a copy of the FAA air taxi certificate, but also to ask the company under which regulations your flights will be flown.
    - Insurance: Often overlooked, insurance can provide a great deal of information about a charter company. Typical limits for a charter company are $25M for a small jet (such as a Cessna Citation, Lear 35, or Beechjet); $50M for a midsized jet (such as a Hawker, Lear 55, or Citation III); and $100M for a large jet (such as a Challenger, Gulfstream, or Falcon 900.)

    Often, these higher insurance limits require an audit by the insurance company to ensure that the pilots and mechanics have the appropriate experience to operate a safe flight. Also, another free service most operators will offer is for the passenger to be “named additional insured” on the policy. This option is really a personal decision. It should be considered if the passenger flies private charters on an ongoing, regular basis.
    - Third-party audits: Several companies specialize in auditing charter companies. The industry's most used service is Aviation Research Group (ARG/US). ARG/US compiles several databases, including FAA, Department of Transportation (DOT), and one on aircraft transactions, to determine the safety records of the operator, its pilots, and its aircraft. In addition, these companies will perform on-site audits on safety procedures, aircraft log books, and additional documentation.

    Step 3

  • Select an aircraft
    Often, a charter company will provide pictures of an aircraft that is under consideration for a trip. Be warned, however, that pictures are deceiving and may not be current.

    The only way to absolutely ensure the status of an aircraft is to view it personally, or to talk with others who have flown in it. Your charter broker should be able to help make that previous passenger connection. Also, because insurance levels can change at any time and vary by aircraft within the same fleet, it is important to ask for a copy of the insurance policy before each and every flight.

    Good luck on your next charter flight...and happy flying!

  • About Nate McKelvey
    Nate McKelvey is CEO and president of CharterAuction (www.charterauction.com), a private jet services company committed to providing its customers with the best in luxury travel experiences.

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    Greek Yacht cruises to the Aegean & Ionian islands with wooden traditional crewed motor sailors.


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