Newcomers looking for deals and cash strapped private jet owners are causing a surge in illegal charter activity. However, FAA enforcement often misses the mark, industry experts say
Illegal charter can be deadly. Last year’s death of European soccer star Emiliano Sala came on an aircraft not authorized for commercial charters in Europe. It was flown by a pilot who wasn’t qualified. A 2018 Falcon 50 crash that killed both pilots in South Carolina found that maintenance records weren’t up to date. The pilots were not qualified to fly Part 135 charter flights.
Despite consolidation, the 25 largest Part 135 and 91K operators account for only 25% of the U.S. private jet market
Why you won’t find Wheels Up when you look at lists of private aviation operators
Sizing the U.S. private jet market between Part 91, Part 91K fractional and Part 135 charter operators
8 of the 10 largest companies are led by the founder or family member
Here’s a big difference between the private jet market and the airlines. Just 10 airlines account for 90% of the domestic market for scheduled passenger traffic. Four companies – Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines – are responsible for two-thirds of U.S. flights.
Despite consolidation, business aviation remains fragmented. An analysis by Private Jet Card Comparisons of various reports from Argus TRAQPak and other data shows the 25 largest operators of charter and fractional fleets together account for just 25% of all U.S. flying.
As private jet travel attracts price-sensitive newcomers, illegal charters with unqualified pilots and aircraft are creating new dangers
“We’ve just got done with a case..The PIC (Pilot-in-Charge) was not typed in the aircraft and the SIC (Second Officer-in-Charge) was a student pilot with less than 50 hours. That’s one of the most unsafe things I’ve seen. This stuff goes on. It happens.”
– FAA Inspector
Back in 2016, I was visiting the headquarters of Jet Linx Aviation in Omaha, Nebraska. Walking with its CEO Jamie Walker between a series of meetings, he suggested I write about illegal charters. He said it was a subject he didn’t think was getting enough attention.
Jet card and charter operator Jet Aviation has signed a long-term deal with GE Aviation for a safety and fleet modernization program covering the private jets it manages
During the National Business Aviation Association’s annual
convention in Las Vegas, Jet Aviation and GE Aviation said they have signed a
long-term agreement for a comprehensive safety and fleet modernization project
The program covers Jet Aviation’s global fleet of some 300 aircraft, including those from Airbus, Boeing BBJ, Bombardier, Dassault, and Gulfstream. The Jet Aviation managed fleet is split between Part 135 and Part 91.
Private jet flying by fractional fleet operators posted a 6.2% gain while on-demand charter and jet card flights dipped 2.2% as the market overall gained 0.3%
Flight activity for the first half of 2019 was up 0.3% compared to the same period in 2018, however, it was a varied report when it came to where the gains came from. Flight hours were up 0.7% during the same period.
Flying by fractional fleet operators was the star in the first half of 2019, according to an analysis of private aviation flying by Traqpak. Fractional activity reported the strongest mid-year gain, up 6.2% during the first six months of 2019. Part 91 flight activity was up 0.7%, while Part 135 flight activity, which represents on-demand charter and jet cards, was down 2.2% for the period.
We give you tips on how to avoid being sold an illegal charter, and better yet, the most current list of Part 135 aircraft and operators
There’s the old adage, you get what you pay for, and in private aviation, it can often be true. The cost of the pilots, their training, private jet maintenance and everything it takes to dispatch your flight in a timely and safe manner, including some profit for the operator and broker, needs to be baked into what you are paying.
Of course, just because you pay a high price doesn’t
necessarily mean you’re getting what you pay and while you may get good pricing
and have an enjoyable flight, you may be getting less than you paid for as