ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Questions To Ask of Your Air Charter Provider-
The first question I always hear is what are your rates, how much to fly from X to Z? If the response to that question is we’ll beat any price by X amount or we have the lowest rates in the industry, a red flag should be raised and further evaluation is required. All FAA Part 135 operations are not created equal. They are all issued certificates and overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration but depending on the inspector to operator ratio or relationship, some things may fall through the cracks.
It is the responsibility of the operator to keep updated with current regulations and standard industry practices and this is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Does the operator add programs or equipment because they will enhance operational safety or do they simply do it to meet the minimum FAA requirements? Are safety programs and equipment added even thought they are not currently required? What training programs do you have for both pilots? Is there any military aviation experience in the company?
Most jets require a two-pilot crew which makes the FAA training apply to both of them. Most turboprops are only required to have one pilot. A turboprop operator will hold itself out as a two pilot crew but the co-pilot is the local flight instructor or line guy who is just trying to build time. They are not trained or checked by the FAA but you are getting billed for an additional unqualified pilot.
There are third party providers that will do an “independent” audit but like anything else, some are good, some are not so good. I find the best overall indicator of how well an operation is run is by the liability amounts carried on each aircraft. A properly insured operation will have an experienced aviation adjuster review the complete operation typically annually and in some cases every six months. The insurance company will have a significant interest in a properly maintained operation and they will know the complete background history of all the pilots, schedulers and maintenance personnel affiliated with the company.
Quality Standards of Insurance
Piston Twin 2 to 5mil
Know Before You Go-
In an effort to help you compare apples to apples, click on the PDF file titled “Part 135 Operator Worksheet”. It is a very short survey that can be sent to any operator you plan on using but will answer the majority of concerns you should have when selecting an On-Demand Part 135 Operator. I would be very suspect if there is any hesitation from the operator or any missing documentation when completing the survey.
As always, the best customer is an informed customer.