Legal and Illegal Jet Charters

July 31, 2012

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The Difference Between Legal and Illegal Charter

Our mission at Priority One Jets includes the philosophy that an educated private jet charter consumer is our best client. In light of this, we would like to take a moment to share with you the difference between a legitimate Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 charter, and an illegal Part 91 charter. Starting an air charter business is simple, and this type of business environment creates the need for you to protect yourself from a growing number of unethical brokers and operators who are flying illegally.

To being with, Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 135 is applicable to all flights non-scheduled flights, such as jet charter, done for commercial purposes. In contrast, Part 91 represents the general operating and flight rules that apply to all aircraft flown in the United States. Part 91 is designed to outline the basic procedures and rules for those flying not-for-hire civil, general aviation aircraft, and form the basis of Part 135 and all others as well. (For reference, Part 121 is for scheduled commercial aviation, while Part 133 is for helicopter operations.)

The difference in requirements for an aircraft and crew operating under Part 91 vs. those for a Part 135 private jet charter are quite substantial. Legal charters are required to comply with strict maintenance programs and their pilots must undergo advanced training. Additional expenses include testing crew for drugs, extensive safety checks and keeping precise records on their aircraft maintenance. This can cost big money, so the easiest way to slash costs is to simply ignore regulations and fly illegally via Part 91 only. This creates a number of very serious consequences for those flying an illegal private jet charter.

First, since unlicensed carriers are not checked by regulators, there are no minimum standards for pilot expertise. Those taking a Part 91 charter flight have absolutely no assurances of their pilot’s experience and training. Maintenance records and flight logs are also not checked, so once again those consumers boarding a Part 91 jet charter must take their chances. It’s also impossible for those providing illegal charters to obtain liability insurance to cover their paying customers. The potentially dire consequences of having no insurance for your charter flight should be obvious.

Unlicensed charters continue to exist within our industry, sometimes rampantly, for a number of reasons. First, the penalties for operating without a commercial license are civil, not criminal. With only relatively small fines of no more than a few thousand dollars to use as a deterrent the FAA has very little power in these situations.

It’s also a question of basic manpower. There are only so many FAA inspectors within the system, and they are trained almost exclusively for mechanical safety. Thus very few who are conducting illegal charters are given any consequences for their actions, and they can compete as equals with highly regulated and licensed operators but with fewer costs. Add to this that the flying public often doesn’t know of these FAA regulations in the first place, or cannot tell the difference between Part 135 and Part 91, and it’s easy to see why illegal charters happen so frequently.

As a jet charter consumer, Priority One Jets understands that your physical safety and that of your traveling party is of critical importance. When flying an unlicensed and unregulated charter, you’re taking a potentially disastrous risk. So how can you protect yourself from illegal and possibly unsafe flights?

The most important protection you can provide yourself is to work with a broker whom you know and can trust. Priority One Jets has an extensive and well-established track record of only working with Part 135 certified charter operators that we would be happy to share with you.  Ask for an ARG/US tripCHEQ or Wyvern PASS report for every flight you take. These reports deal primarily with operational history, maintenance audits and pilot experience. Priority One Jets is one of a minority of jet charter brokers who supply these reports from these two leading, third-party auditors on every flight.  You should also always request a copy of the operator’s actual Part 135 certification on every flight. Without asking these questions, it can be impossible to know if you are flying a legal jet charter.

The bottom line is that Priority One Jets will always put the safety of you and your traveling party first. While current economic conditions may force some operators and brokers to cut corners, when you charter a private jet with Priority One Jets we will never compromise when it comes to your physical security and safety. We will only work with operators who adhere to the strictest standards in the industry and who hire the absolute best pilots.

We also promise to provide you with the most appropriate aircraft for your trip, at the best available pricing. This is Priority One Jet’s commitment to you. Give one of our expert air charter agents a call at (888) 671-5387 when it’s time for your next charter flight, so that we can provide you with the best private jet charter rates available on the most well-maintained and luxurious aircraft. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve your needs, and can arrange your charter flight with as little as four hours’ notice.

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