Charter Flight Services: Why an Emphasis on Safety Matters

Business owners and executives understand more than anyone how valuable time is. Often, there are not enough hours in the day. Air traveling is a common hassle for professionals and it makes sense. Preparing for a flight is time-consuming, especially if one must arrive at an airport hours before takeoff. Charter flights save a significant amount of time in multiple ways. First, when using a charter flight service, travelers can arrive minutes before their scheduled departure without consequence. Second, charter planes can depart, or arrive, at smaller airports, reducing the time it takes to take off or land. 

Many Florida business leaders have utilized charter flight services and they are not alone. The National Business Aviation Association has spearheaded a program called NoPlaneNoGain, which encourages executives, and employees, to share their private flight experiences. According to NoPlaneNoGain, national organizations such as the University of North Carolina, the Leavitt Group and Tucknott Electric depend on private air travel to provide services. 

The convenience of charter flight services is attractive. However, according to Elliot Mintzer, founder and chief executive officer of TRYP Air Charter, based in Lakeland, safety should always be of the utmost importance. 

“First and foremost, when anybody travels, it’s super important to know what they’re getting into,” says Mintzer. 

Mintzer is referring to the frequent use of illegal, and unregulated, charter services. 

“Tragedy can happen,” he explained. Unfortunately, the Tampa community has seen the devastation that comes with severe accidents.

In 2019, four attorneys lost their lives in a plane crash that took off from Tampa. The aircraft was scheduled to land in West Palm Beach. According to Law.com, there was a reported “issue” with the plane that required the flight to be rerouted to Pahokee. Tragically, the plane never got to land properly. The aircraft was not “upheld to standards” and the charter service did not have an official charter certificate, Mintzer highlighted. 

Will Smith, CEO of Will Smith Aviation, in Tampa, says safety needs to be at the heart of everything a charter company does. 

“For us, safety isn’t just about following the rules. It’s about constantly looking for ways to do better,” he says. “We plan meticulously, stay on top of training and we’re always refining our procedures.” 

People interested in charter flight services have “to look for red flags that can cost their lives,” Mintzer said. “Try to educate [yourself] on how amazing private air travel is but you have to do it the right way.” 

When selecting a charter flight service, or aircraft, there are four specific qualifications individuals should prioritize, Mintzer said. First, one should ask to see an operator’s certificate provided by the Federal Aviation Association. Second, an individual interested in a charter flight should inquire about the charter service’s ARGUS rating, which is similar to the NHTSA’s ratings for cars. Third, it is important to confirm that the aircraft, and operator, are listed on the FAA’s DO 85. Last, it is essential that only Part 135-qualified pilots are used. It is advised to ask for their 135 certificate number before a scheduled flight. 

Pilots are at the heart of flight safety, according to Kyle Garren, charter consultant at TRYP Air Charter. They should know the aircraft well and understand what to look for in a pre-flight check. Most importantly, it is essential to review their experience and qualifications. Aircraft maintenance is another key aspect of safety protocol. An airplane should receive a routine, FAA maintenance inspection after every 100 hours in use, Garren said. 

“The most important aspect of aviation, when chartering, is the safety record of your charter company. You’re entrusting the lives of your passengers to that charter service so, you need to be sure that charter company follows all the rules of Part 135 and maintains their aircraft and their pilots to the highest standard possible,” said the owner of Phase 2 Aviation. 

FlyUSA, TRYP Air Charter’s broker partner, is one of the most prominent charter flight and aircraft management companies in the country. Barry Shevlin, chief executive officer of FlyUSA explained to Tampa Bay Business and Wealth about how safety impacts FlyUSA policies. 

“At FlyUSA, we prioritize safety above all. Not only do we verify that operators and their aircraft be listed with the FAA on a current DO85, but we also set minimum insurance requirements for operators. We require operators to hold no less than $25 million for small turbojet and turboprop-powered aircraft, $50 million for medium turbojet-powered aircraft and $100 million for large turbojet-powered aircraft. Additionally, our clients are covered by our $100 million non-owned liability policy.” 

While charter flight services can be expensive, it is far better, and safer, to invest in trusted options rather than unregulated, or illegal, charter services. 

“Users should choose a charter company that is known for their consistency in delivering their promises. This includes reliable aircraft maintenance, timely departures and arrivals and efficient communication throughout the booking process,” Smith says. He adds that reading reviews can help differentiate the reliable from the unreliable offerings. 

By using a charter service, individuals have more flexibility and can decrease the time they spend traveling. Selecting a charter service, or aircraft, is a serious task, however, and one that should not be done lightly. ♦

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