When you decide to fly charter instead of booking a commercial flight, the task of picking the right charter company can seem overwhelming. There are a lot of companies to choose from and you want to make sure that you are choosing a company that is safe and offers a fair price. But, if you have never flown on a charter flight before, you may not be sure of where to start. Here are a few tips on what to look for in a charter company.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates all aircraft, commercial and charter alike. It has some minimum standards of maintenance for every plane, and specific requirements for pilots.
FAA Air Carrier Certificate and D085
When looking for a charter company, ask for their FAA Air Carrier Certificate and D085. The FAA Air Carrier Certificate proves that the company has been authorized by the FAA to have private jets available to the public. If they cannot, or will not, provide you with this information, they may not be a legal charter company.
The D085 lists every plane the company has, including the tail number and the serial number of each plane. If a plane is offered to you that they do not have listed there, you may want to look elsewhere for your charter flight.
The more flight hours a pilot has, the better their skill level. When you are flying through a storm, you want to know that the pilot behind the wheel is an expert at what they are doing. To get a pilot license, you usually need between 50 and 70 flight hours; to get hired on a commercial plane they usually need at least 1,500 hours and charter pilots usually need 3,000 hours. The hour difference is because charter pilots often fly alone, without a co-pilot, so charter companies want to make sure they have the best behind the wheel.
The FAA requires charter pilots to have a “higher level of FAA pilot training and certification, aircraft maintenance procedures, and operational safety rules, than pilots who may take family or friends for an airplane ride.” It also performs more frequent checks on the pilots, crew, and planes for a charter company.
If you have a hectic schedule that means you may need to hop on a plane with little notice, a charter flight is a good option. When looking for a charter company, one thing you should ask them is how available and flexible they are. Are they a company that is available for you at the drop of a hat, or do you need to schedule every trip in advance?
It is good to know this in general, but unless you are someone who may frequently need to fly somewhere at the last minute, you may not need to factor this in.
When you call, do you always get their voicemail? Are you left waiting for days for them to respond? Are they answering your questions thoroughly? If you do not feel like the airline is being responsive enough, or they never seem to give you solid answers to your questions, you may want to look at a different airline. You want an airline that tells you what you want to know and is available for you to ask these questions.
Houston, Sarina. “Here Is a List of 10 Ways for Pilots to Build Flight Time.” The Balance Careers, The Balance Careers, 18 Feb. 2020, www.thebalancecareers.com/ways-pilots-can-build-flight-time-282889.
“Safe Air Charter Operations.” Safe Air Charter Operations, Federal Aviation Administration, 12 May 2020, www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/safe_charter_operations/.