How To Choose A Charter Company in the US
Choosing A Charter Company
There are many charter companies to select from in the United States today. While all charter organizations must comply with the FAA regulations, the strictness with which compliance is undertaken can vary from one company to the next. However, there are questions you can ask to help ensure that you are using a reputable, safety conscious company. Here are a few suggestions:
1.) Whose Part 135 certificate is being used for the flight? It should be the company you're contracting with, unless they have secured an aircraft from another company. You can always ask for a copy of the appropriate Part 135 Operating Certificate.
2.) Who owns the aircraft being chartered? The name of the owner may be an indicator of the caliber company you're working with.
3.) Ask if you're working with an owner/operator. There are rarely enough checks and balances in this type of operation. If the owner is the pilot, the Director of Operations, Chief Pilot and sometimes Director of Maintenance, this is simply too many hats for one person to wear and still efficiently run a safe operation.
4.) Does the company you're contracting with manage the aircraft you're booking, or are they acting as a broker? If the company has secured aircraft outside their own fleet of managed aircraft, ascertain if an audit has been performed on that company. Often operators do work with another company's aircraft, and as long as the sub-charter is also with a reputable company, there is not necessarily a reason to be concerned.
5.) What are the minimum company requirements for Captain and First Officer? How many hours must a Pilot in Command/Second in Command have? While you will see figures that are higher and lower, a good average for light jet aircraft is 4,000 hours minimum total time for a Captain, with at least 1,000 turbine hours and 250 make and model. A Second in Command total time minimum of 2,500 hours, with at least 500 turbine hours and 200 make and model is acceptable.
6.) Where are flight crews trained? We believe all jet crews should attend Flight Safety or Simuflite at least annually.
7.) What type of emergency training do aircraft crews receive? First Aid, burns, emergency procedures, wet ditching, etc., these areas should be reviewed in a formal session at least once a year.
8.) Who handles the maintenance on the aircraft you have chartered? Is it kept on a computerized maintenance system? Is the aircraft maintained by a factory approved service center? Is there a Director of Maintenance to oversee that maintenance is performed properly? Do maintenance personnel receive regular training at factory approved schools?
9.) Be assured of insurance liability limits. Jet aircraft should carry between $50 and $100 million in liability. Be sure that you can have your company named as an additional insured on the certificate of insurance.
10.) Is the operator's Part 135 operating certificate in good standing? A call to the FAA will confirm this for you.
11.) Ask for references you can check.