How safe is your private jet charter flight? Charter operator and broker safety standards vary and it's important to know the history and standards you are entrusting for your air charter flight. A variety of federal, industry, and independent organizations regulate or rate air charter operators. What do your jet charter operator and broker consider when arranging your flight?
FAA Charter Certification
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the federal agency responsible for overseeing and administering air travel regulations in the U.S.
The FAA conducts a lengthy investigation and certification process before granting an aircraft and its operator the authority to carry the general public as paying passengers. It takes many months, sometimes years, to become an FAA-certified Air Carrier. In addition the FAA has continual oversight during annual inspections, pilot semi-annual checks, and conformity inspections for any aircraft being added to a charter certificate. Certificated charter operators are assigned a local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) which continually monitors the operator.
The FAA Part-135 (charter) rules and certification section is 112 pages long in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and is the second largest category. It is only a few pages less than the Part-91 section which governs total air traffic and general operating rules applying to all flights, private aircraft rules, flight rules and private pilot certifications. It is clear when you examine the FAR that the FAA considers carrying paying passengers more seriously than owners flying their own aircraft or other parts of the air traffic system or certifications.
FAA certification is the most comprehensive inspection, testing and compliance system an aircraft operator undergoes. And it should be. It is the approval to safely fly the paying public, and the first standard by which charter aircraft operate. Every operator, pilot and aircraft mechanic must comply by its rules.
History holds the FAA requirements and standards as valid. Professionally flown charter flights with 2 crew members have an accident and safety record similar to that of the scheduled airlines.
Source: National Business Aircraft Association
As a comprehensive international safety program and audited standard "for the industry, by the industry", IS-BAO is separate from third party companies who make a business of compiling and selling operator statistics, information or ratings based on arbitrarily determined standards.
The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) is the newest and most comprehensive audited safety standard for business aircraft. Only a handful of charter operators have achieved IS-BAO registration. Registered operators have demonstrated compliance through successful completion of a third party industry audit by an IBAC Accredited Auditor.
IS-BAO was developed by the industry for the benefit of the industry. It is a code of best practices designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve a high level of safety and professionalism. IS-BAO was formally introduced and made available to the business aviation community by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) in May, 2002.
Through the use of Safety Management Systems (SMS), IS-BAO registered business aircraft operators proactively identify and manage risks. Under a formalized SMS, operators identify potential hazards and ensure that a process is put in place to effectively manage them. NBAA advocates that flight departments of all sizes implement a SMS for aircraft operations.
The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) introduced the IS-BAO program for many reasons. In many business sectors, international standards are recognized for their role in facilitating global commerce. IS-BAO is similar in this respect as its fundamental purpose is to foster standardized, safe and highly professional aircraft operations.
IBAC and Member Associations hold aviation safety as their highest priority. Members continuously seek means to improve an already very safe community. Many programs are in place, all coordinated through the Business Aviation Safety Strategy, which is a dynamic plan assessed and updated on regular basis. IBAC also publishes a comprehensive set of safety statistics which are use to make determinations of where improvement is advisable.
Wyvern LTD is an independent company that makes a business of evaluating or approving private jet charter operators based on their history, documentation and practices.
Wyvern-compliant flights have a safety record that is unsurpassed:
Of all the 1,177 FAR Part-135 fatalities from January 1991 through April 2009, none- 0.0 percent involved a Wyvern-recommended aircraft or aircrew. Looking at just Part 135 turbine accidents from April 2004 through April 2009, jets flying charter flights incurred seven fatal accidents and 32 fatalities, but not one of those jet fatalities occurred on a Wyvern-compliant flight.
As of June 2010, Wyvern provides safety information on 2,189 charter operators and 15,079 aircraft.
Wyvern provides comprehensive operator information, including operations history, background information, pilot details, FAA documents, Insurance coverage, and FAA operations specifications. This also includes any accidents, incidents, FAA Letters of Correction and Warning Notices. Much of the information and documents are current, directly from FAA electronic files, and other information is acquired by Wyvern directly or from an on-site audit.
Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US) offers consulting services and provides information collection, research and distribution in the field of aviation. One sector of their products and services is in charter operator reviews and ratings. Charter Operators can subscribe to ARG/US's services and obtain a rating of Gold, Gold Plus or Platinum, at increasing subscription rates and levels of evaluation. Consumers of charter services may then also subscribe to ARG/US services and access those ratings and limited operator information.
Of the current 2,150 FAA-certified and DOT-registered charter operators in the United States, 335 operators have chosen to subscribe to ARG/US for safety ratings. Of those operators, 235 are rated Gold, 30 Gold Plus, and 70 are rated Platinum.
Platinum operators are audited to a higher standard. Some charter buyers do not put as much value in the ratings since the comparative analysis of charter safety history to an ARG/US Platinum rating is not as favorable. Many charter operators elected to discontinue their ARG/US rating in 2009 when ARG/US began charging an ongoing fee for each level of evaluation and rating.
Safety of your jet charter operator and charter broker should be paramount. Consider their qualifications, history and their industry involvement. Do they have an accident or incident history? Have they received warnings or corrective action from the FAA? How long has the organization been in business? Does anyone associated with the company have a felony or criminal history? Does your operator have suitable hull and liability insurance? Does your broker have professional liability insurance for your protection?