July 22, 2020

Illegal air charter operations are a top safety concern for the FAA, with the agency placing additional focus on identifying illegal charter operations and educating operators, pilots and consumers on how to avoid illegal operations.

The Safe Air Charter Symposium covered a number of factors related to illegal charter, including operational control, “holding out” or advertising to the public and conducting flights for compensation or hire.

The webinar also discussed legitimate tools that allow for appropriate reimbursements, such as time sharing, dry leasing and joint ownership under 91.501.

Presenters addressed a common misperception that dry leases are indicative of an illegal air charter operation, and having a number of dry leases associated with a single aircraft is almost certainly illegal. In reality, a single dry lease can be noncompliant with regulations if it not implemented properly, while multiple dry leases on a single aircraft can be a legal, useful tool to use aircraft.

“There are ways to accept reimbursement or compensation under Part 91. [Section] 91.501, for example, outlines the restrictions entities must abide by to operate legally under Part 91. Organizations, passengers and pilots should seek legal counsel to ensure any arrangement under 91.501 is compliant with current regulations and guidance,” said NBAA Director of Flight Operations and Regulations Brian Koester, CAM, who participated in the webinar.

“We believe the emphasis must be on education of operators and passengers to avoid the clueless and careless operations, then bringing enforcement to those with intent to skirt the regulations for the criminal,” he added.

Other presenters included:

  • Mark Kramer, division manager for the FAA Office of General Aviation Safety Assurance
  • Don Riley, operations inspector, Flight Standards Special Emphasis Investigations Team
  • Greg Lander, senior attorney, FAA General Counsel
  • Ryan Waguespack, senior vice president, National Air Transportation Association
  • David T. Norton, partner, Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP
  • David M. Hernandez, shareholder, Vedder Price P.C.

View NBAA’s charter resources.