When you decide to fly charter for either personal or business reasons, doing your homework to make sure the company is legal is important. If, for example, you contact two companies with similar aircrafts and one gives you a quote with a price that is significantly lower than the other company, this may raise a red flag for you. Here are some signs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put together to look for to determine if the company you are interested in chartering a plane with is a legal operation.
According to the FAA:
- “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.”
Ways to Identify a Legal Operation
Legal operators should provide you with complete transparency. If you ask them to see a copy of their Part 135 certification, they should readily provide it to you. Another thing you can ask for is the charter operator’s insurance certificate, which they should readily provide you with. You can also ask for verification that the aircraft they will be using for your flight is authorized for charter use. Sometimes, an illegal operation will have one aircraft that is certified and insured but have other aircrafts they use that are not certified.
However, if the airline gives you an excuse about not having the documents available, they are most likely operating illegally.
When you decide to book a charter flight, make sure you take the time to ensure it is legal beforehand, there are some dangers linked to flying with a pilot who is not properly licensed.
Importance of a Legal Operation
A pilot who is Part 135 certified has to go through rigorous and regular training, and they have to have a higher level of training than commercial pilots. A pilot certified under Part 135 is required to have at least 1,200 hours of flight time. They are also subject to random drug and alcohol testing.
Any aircraft under Part 135 has to be maintained under strict guidelines by people who are highly trained in the field, to ensure quality and safety standards are met.
These strict standards are put in place to ensure the safety of the passengers as well as the personnel operating the aircraft.
What to do if You Suspect an Operation is Illegal
The FAA offers five different options for where you can report an operation you think is illegal.
- FAA Hotline
- Flight Standards District Offices
- Illegal Charter Hotline
- National Air Transportation Association
- 1-888-SKY-FLT1 or 1-888-750-3581
“Safe Air Charter Operations.” Federal Aviation Administration, 22 May 2020, www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/safe_charter_operations/.