There’s very little that tops flying on a private jet — whether it’s for business or leisure. It’s the ultimate form of luxury and convenience and is a completely liberating experience because you get to fly on your own terms (for the most part).
Not only this, but you can skip lengthy customs and baggage waiting times and fly in total comfort, arriving at your destination refreshed, rather than exhausted.
But whether you’re hiring a jet for the first time or you’re a seasoned private flier, you should never hire a private jet without asking these crucial questions first.
1. Who is the Aircraft Operator?
Unless privately owned by an individual, most private charter jets fall under the management of an operator — a legitimate business that holds a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The certificate you should look for is an FAA 135 Operating Certificate.
Not only this, but an operator should have a good reputation as a tried and trusted charter business. If you come across an operator that does not openly offer up proof of certification and the regulatory protocols they follow, this is a big red flag.
Always do your research on whether an operator has good reviews or any reviews at all. You should be able to find reviews or testimonials of their service on their website, Yelp, or Google My Business.
2. Is the Aircraft Operator Recognized?
Another crucial factor is whether legitimate aviation organizations recognize the aircraft operator. Safety should be their number one concern. This means being part of industry organizations focused on aviation safety and regulations.
These organizations promote safety through mentorship, research and data updates, learning conferences for operators, pilots, and more. Just a few of these reputable organizations include EASA, IATA, the NBAA, and the Air Charter Safety Foundation.
You must ensure that the aircraft operator makes a point of being part of any of these organizations in order to improve upon their safety protocols by keeping up-to-date on new safety regulations.
3. Is the Aircraft Properly Registered?
Next, it’s imperative to check whether the aircraft you’re hiring is registered with the appropriate party. In this case, it would be the FAA. This is to ensure the aircraft and its operator comply with strict guidelines and regulations to guarantee passenger safety.
The aircraft operator should have a registered DO85 for the aircraft, which states that it’s registered with the FAA. This also signifies that the aircraft is under the control of the operator. The DO85 registration should correlate with the aircraft’s tail number.
4. Does the Aircraft Have an Accident History?
Another important question to ask before you hire a private jet is whether the aircraft you’re considering has a history of incidents.
When you hire a private jet, luxury travel is a given, but what’s more important than anything is safety. While aircraft accidents or crashes are rare, they are a reality. Even if it’s a small incident and the aircraft needed a minor repair, it’s important to ensure the repair was performed by regulated personnel.
You can do your own research on this by visiting the National Transportation Safety Board’s website. From there, you can explore a database listing all aircraft and aviation incidents that date back as far back as 1962.
5. Does the Aircraft Operator Have any Citations?
Aside from the performance of the aircraft you’re hiring, you also need to ask questions about the performance of the aircraft operator. This means doing a background check on the operator as to whether they have any citations against their name.
It’s simple to delve into the history of a listed and regulated aircraft, thanks to the information offered and stored by the FAA. But when it comes to searching operator history, it’s not always as simple.
However, you can find the information you’re looking for by visiting your local FAA office where they keep records for five years. You should be able to find a record of any operator citations, here.
This might seem like an unnecessary step to some, but if you have any doubts about the performance or legitimacy of an operator, this is the best place to find any information you need.
6. Where Does the Operator Source Their Pilots?
Who will be flying you to your chosen destination? The pilot you hire is almost as important as the aircraft you hire. This means you need to do some research on where the operator sources their pilots and the type of training they have.
Good quality pilot training is imperative to your safety. Make sure to ask questions about where the pilots come from, their background in flying, their training, and their work schedules.
Bear in mind that corporate or private pilots (who fly private charter jets) have annual training they’re required to complete. Make sure that the pilot you choose has up-to-date training, and nothing less.
7. Is the Aircraft Adequately Insured?
As mentioned earlier, aircraft incidents are rare, but they can happen. The last thing you need is to hire a private jet, only to be lumped with hidden insurance charges if something goes wrong.
Make sure that the aircraft has adequate insurance that’s up-to-date in the case of any type of incident. You also need to ensure that you don’t face extra charges added to your charter fee for this insurance. In essence, aircraft insurance is there to protect you, and the operator.
Bear in mind that each aircraft in an operator’s fleet requires individual insurance, by law.
8. Are the Passengers Covered by Insurance?
It’s all good and well if the aircraft has insurance, but what about the passengers on board? In some cases, passenger insurance is vital. Luckily, most operators will list passengers as additionally insured, but always make sure they provide you with the right documentation stating so.
When would this type of insurance be beneficial to you? You might find yourself in a situation where your valuables or bags go missing. You could become injured on the flight somehow, or the plane could malfunction and you could end up stranded.
Always ask the operator about passenger insurance and what it covers before you book your charter flight.
9. When Last Was the Operator Audited?
Auditing is a huge part of safety compliance in the aviation industry. The FAA performs regular audits of both operators and their aircraft to ensure they meet compliance standards regarding maintenance, procedures, pilot training, and more.
It’s worth asking the operator about when they were last audited and whether you could have a copy of the audit report. This is a good way to see where an operator and their aircraft stand in terms of safety ratings.
10. Does the Operator Have a Safety Management System (SMS)?
While safety management systems are quite new to the aviation industry, they’re absolutely vital. Bear in mind that some operators might still operate without an SMS system, but this doesn’t mean you can’t trust them or they aren’t safe. They might be in the process of obtaining a new SMS system, too.
The key concepts of today’s SMS systems have been in place for certain aviation operations for many years, anyway. In essence, the new SMS systems just consolidate this safety information and make everything more formalized.
Thanks to today’s highly efficient SMS systems, the aviation industry, as a whole, has seen a significant decline in accidents and incidents. That’s why it’s important to look for an aircraft operator that uses a modern SMS system that’s either FAA or ICAO certified.
11. Do You Offer All-Inclusive Quotes?
It’s no secret that hidden charges can add up very quickly, pushing your charter hire cost way out of budget. Some of these charges might include fuel, catering, ground handling, permits, etc. Keep in mind that some operating companies offer a base fee and basic services. You’ll have to pay extra for the rest.
But if you want to avoid extra hidden costs, always ask whether an operator’s quote is all-inclusive. If not, ask them if they can offer you one so you can do a comparison between charter jet operators to get a good idea of what you need to pay.
Hiring a Private Jet Has Never Been So Easy
Whether you’re thinking of hiring a private jet to mark a special occasion or simplify your business travel, it’s probably the most convenient, comfortable, and luxurious way to travel in this day and age.
WiseJets makes the process of booking and hiring your very own private jet simpler than ever before. You can browse our fleet of aircraft and book and pay directly via our website. Our aim is to make private travel more accessible to everyone. If you’re interested, get a quote from our team today!