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Safety, security convenience and productivity are key reasons why individuals and companies choose on-demand air travel for personal and business travel. Air charter flights operate on the passenger’s schedule, allowing considerable flexibility. With the ability to fly in and out of more than 5,000 public use airports in the United States – more than 100 times that of the airlines – air charter provides convenient access to your destination. And air charter is a safe mode of transportation.
Even with all the benefits air charter provides, it is also true that not all air charter operators will meet your specific wants and needs. You must become an educated air charter consumer. A general understanding of what questions to ask and what answers to expect will assist you in your effort to choose a safe and reputable charter operator – one that will provide the aircraft and service level you require and deserve.
The resources on this web site provide you with information to become an educated consumer and tools you can use to pre-screen charter operators and to obtain competitive quotes for charter flights.
Newly updated in 2011, this NBAA publication provides an overview of the many considerations that arise when selecting an air charter operator for on-demand air travel needs. The valuable information for charter users provided in the guide includes: procedures for finding charter operators and charter brokers; information for locating contractors who audit charter companies for safety; a list of sample pre-screening questions consumers may use to vet charter operators; and an RFP template consumers can use to obtain and evaluate quotes for specific charter flights. This publication is available for free upon request via secure online order form.
Disclaimer: This guide is intended to provide general information to assist consumers in understanding how to select air charter operators. The types of questions suggested in the guide reflect the initial inquiry that a user of this guide might consider. In order to make an informed judgment, you should ask for more specific information; those questions are beyond the goals of this guide.
The contents do not constitute legal advice or an endorsement of any particular air charter operator or air charter broker. NBAA does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the professional competency of any air charter operator or air charter broker selected as a result of the process recommended in the guide.
NBAA disclaims all express or implied representations or warranties regarding the information contained in the guide. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall NBAA be liable for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, incidental, exemplary, or consequential damages arising out of, or in any way connected with the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information in this guide.
FAA Regulations Governing Charter Operations
Title 14 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations governs Transportation and Space. Volume II of this Title contains numerous regulations affecting aircraft operations. Of particular interest to charter consumers would be Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) Part 119 which defines commercial aircraft operations and the certification requirements for operators and FAR Part 135 which prescribes the rules generally governing on-demand passenger charter operations for aircraft with fewer than 30 seats and less than 7,500 lbs payload capacity. U.S. Government’s Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR)
Charter Safety Statistics
Charter companies and pilots are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before they are allowed to fly. Thereafter, their operations are, at FAA's discretion and within its resources, subject to constant oversight under rigid safety regulations. This is the same model used by the FAA to oversee airline safety.
Obtaining a charter operator's certificate is a time-consuming, thorough procedure, sometimes taking up to a year. The process for certification is overseen by the FAA, and is subject to unannounced safety spot checks by FAA officials. Charter company operations manuals are required by the FAA, and must be approved by FAA officials. FAA staff routinely audit charter operators' records, which can also be subject to periodic safety review by independent safety auditors.
Charter pilot qualifications are comparable to those for commercial airline pilots, including minimums for training and flight-time experience. The facilities that conduct safety training programs for charter pilots are held to the same rigorous standards as the centers that train airline pilots. And, the requirements for ensuring that charter pilots fly in safe weather conditions are comparable to – and at times more stringent than – those for the scheduled airlines.
|Aircraft Accident Rates, 1990–2012 (per 100,000 flight hours) 1|
|Air Taxi 3
Air Carriers 4
- Compiled by Robert E. Breiling Associates, Inc., 2012
- All U.S.-registered aircraft not operating under FAR Part 121 or 135
- FAR Part 135 non-scheduled air carriers
- FAR Part 135 scheduled air carriers
- FAR Part 121 scheduled and non-scheduled air carriers
- Aircraft owned or leased and operated by a corporation or business firm for the transportation of personnel or cargo in the furtherance of the corporation’s or firm’s business and which are flown by professional pilots receiving a direct salary or compensation for piloting
- The use of aircraft by pilots (those not receiving direct salary or compensation for piloting) in conjunction with their occupation or in the furtherance of a business
- In 1997, FAR 135 Scheduled carriers were re-certified under FAR 121
- In 2008 Robert E. Breiling Assoc. data for corp/exec data does not agree with NTSB data as several accidents involving U.S. registered aircraft occurred outside the U.S. and are not included in NTSB data
- Items 6 and 7 data is developed by Robert E. Breiling Assoc. Other data is NTSB
- Preliminary data.
Finding Charter Operators
The Products & Services section of the NBAA web site lists charter operators that are members of NBAA and includes contact information for the charter operators.
Researching Charter Operators
Nationwide, there are more than 2,100 air charter operators. These charter operators are required to hold an Air Carrier or Commercial Operating Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Operations Specifications that contain company names, authorizations and limitations. This certificate allows charter operators to conduct on-demand operations under FAR Part 135 for most business aircraft.
FAA Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs)
Each charter operator is assigned to an FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) that oversees that certificate and each operator has an assigned FAA principal operations, airworthiness and avionics inspector. The charter operator you are considering should tell you the name of the FSDO, the FAA region of the FSDO, and the names of the Inspectors that oversee their certificate. Following are links to the FAA FSDOs which will provide you with telephone contact information for the FSDO. Contact the local FAA FSDO regarding safety and accident records of a charter operator.
Industry Audit Organizations
Research the audit history and ratings of the charter operator. Audit ratings may be found by contacting the charter operator or through third-party safety auditors. The three primary charter operator audit organizations include:
Pre-Screening Questions List
Charter consumers would be best served if the pre-screening of several charter operators and/or charter brokers is conducted in advance of a charter flight. Use the following questions as a basis to determine which charter operator or charter broker might be the best match for your needs. Reputable charter operators have varied approaches to conducting safe operations, so there might not be only one “right” answer to any of these questions. However, the preceding text should help consumers better understand some of the best practices in the charter industry.
Request for Proposal Form to Obtain Charter Quotes
Use this form to obtain quotes for specific charter trips.