Charter Operator Safety Information
An overall view and evaluation of charter safety information should be employed when considering an aircraft charter. Multiple information sources should be considered including the FAA, IS-BAO, Wyvern LTD, and ARG/US. A knowledge of the charter operator industry environment and personal experience with charter operations can be very beneficial.
Obtaining FAA certification to carry the paying public is complex, difficult and very time consuming. A charter certificate commonly takes more than a year to obtain and involves detailed program documentation, FAA inspections, approvals and check flights. Each aircraft must be certified and approved separately, and pilots must meet many certain qualifications, experience levels, medical testing and regular flight tests known as “check-rides.”
The benefit is that overall we enjoy the safest aircraft operating environment in the world. However, as in any industry there are varying levels of quality, safety and service.
New Flight Charters is a proud member of the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) and supports their vision of enabling on-demand air charter providers and fractional program managers to achieve the highest levels of safety in the aviation industry. ACSF feaures New Flight Charters’ publication Five Questions For Your Air Charter Service as a resource for their members and the flying public. View it here – click http://acsf.aero/ > Products & Services > Chartering an Aircraft.
FAA Charter Certification
Legal charter flights are operated by air carriers certified by the FAA and registered with the United States Department Of Transportation (DOT). Certificated operator and aircraft status are monitored by the FAA and thier local Flight Standards District Office. Crew members should have appropriate FAA certifications and ratings, and jet aircraft captains should be type-rated in the aircraft.
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) representative and inspector who continually monitors the operator.
The FAA Part-135 (charter) rules and certification section is 112 pages and the second largest category of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). 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 in examining the FAR that the FAA considers carrying paying passengers much more seriously than owners flying their own aircraft or any other part 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 this standard 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
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. As a comprehensive international safety program and audited standard “for the industry, by the industry”, it is separate from third party companies who make a business of compiling and selling operator statistics, information or ratings based on sometimes arbitrarily-determined standards.
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 is a leader in aviation safety auditing, consulting and information services. Corporate flight departments, travel departments, fractional programs and charter brokers use Wyvern as a source of aviation safety information. Wyvern-recommended charter operators comply with their audit standards for flight operations and maintenance. New Flight Charters is licensed by Wyvern LTD to generate reports on the operator, specific aircraft, captain and first officer for each and every charter flight. New Flight Charters monitors history, statistics and documents for Wyvern registered operators, and their aircraft and crews.
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! That’s a safety record that only Wyvern can claim. Source: Wyvern
As of June 28, 2010, New Flight Charters accesses safety information on 15,079 aircraft and 2,189 charter operators as a Wyvern-Authorized company.
Licensed by Wyvern, New Flight Charters has comprehensive operator information at its fingertips. This includes 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.
New Flight Charters has access to information that few charter companies have, and safe charter flights are the priority.
Aviation Research Group/U.S. (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 charter operator reviews and ratings. Charter Operators can subscribe to ARG/US 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.
As of October 7, 2010, there are over 2,150 FAA-certified and DOT-registered charter operators in the United States. 419 of those have chosen to subscribe to ARG/US for safety ratings. Of those, 314 are rated Gold, 25 Gold Plus, and 85 are rated Platinum.
New Flight Charters provides any level of ARG/US rated aircraft and crew desired and available for a charter request. New Flight Charters however cautions total reliance in ARG/US ratings since the comparative analysis of charter safety history to an ARG/US Platinum rating is not as correlative. Also of note, in 2009 ARG/US began charging charter operators an ongoing fee for each level of evaluation and rating, and many operators elected to discontinue their ARG/US ratings subscription.