FAA warns pilots, consumers about illegal charters; lists red flags

‘Illegal air charter operations pose a serious safety hazard,’ says the Federal Aviation Administration.

By Doug Gollan, December 20, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday issued what it called important information for pilots and passengers covering safe air charter operations.

It comes two days after sending the jet-sharing platform BlackBird a letter it has found serious issues.

BlackBird CEO Rudd Davis told Private Jet Card Comparisons the company was “pausing” that part of the business.

In August, this website published a story, “Private Jet Charter: If the price is too good to be true, it might be.”


In March, after BlackBird announced a $10 million raise, we reviewed BlackBird’s multiple agreements. Users legally sign when they click the Buy button.

Our finding was a $150 shared flight often came with millions of dollars in potential liability.


The FAA’s post, on its website stated, “Illegal air charter operations pose a serious safety hazard to the traveling public, and the FAA works aggressively to identify and shut down rogue operators.”

Different Safety Standards

It continued, “Air charter operations – also known as commuter and on-demand operations – require a higher level of FAA pilot training and certification, aircraft maintenance procedures, and operational safety rules, than private pilots who may take family or friends for an airplane ride.”

It pointed out, “FAA inspectors perform more frequent periodic checks on air charter companies’ pilots, crewmembers and aircraft than they do on private pilot operations.”

The bureau noted, “Charter companies’ crewmembers must undergo regular proficiency checks to maintain their FAA certifications.”

Illegal charters have also been in the news in Europe, after the death of soccer star Sala in January.


The agency said it has “formed a Special Emphasis Investigations Team to investigate complex cases,” adding it “partners with the National Air Transportation Association’s Air Charter Safety Foundation to help identify possible illegal operations; and continues to collaborate with industry trade associations to educate pilots and operators to ensure they understand all of the rules that apply to charter operations.”

Private Jet Illegal Charter Red Flags

It also issued red flags:

  • If the company provides the aircraft and at least one crewmember, yet attempts to transfer operational control to a consumer via any document.
  • A lack of Federal Excise Tax charged to the consumer. Legitimate operators have to charge this. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • A lack of a safety briefing or passenger briefing cards.
  • Any evasiveness to questions or concerns. Legitimate operators should be transparent and helpful.
  • If the pilot or someone associated with the company coaches passengers on what to say or do if an FAA aviation inspector meets the aircraft at its destination.

The FAA adds, “It’s important to verify the legitimacy of the charter operator before you before you book your flight.”

It tell consumers, “You have the right to view copies of the air carrier certificate to validate that the aircraft has authorization for charter use. If the operator refuses to allow you to see the required authorization, look for a charter operator willing to provide you with that information.”

In a warning relevant to BlackBird users, it advises, “Before entering into an aircraft lease, ensure you understand and are willing to accept your responsibilities for compliance with air safety regulations.”

Illegal Charter Hotline

You can report suspected illegal charters to Air Charter Safety Foundation’s Illegal Charter Hotline at:

Phone: 1-888-SKY-FLT1 or 1-888-759-3581
Email: info@avoidillegalcharter.com
Website: http://www.avoidillegalcharter.com



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