In private aviation, there are seemingly as many options as there are airports – aircraft ownership, fractional, Jet Cards, charter, and beyond. However, one area of the market – “grey” or illegal charter – poses a unique threat to the industry, side-stepping rules and regulations at potentially heavy costs. Read on to learn how partnering with a reputable Part 135 company like Jet Linx ensures the safety of both the aircraft owner and the passengers on board.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates aviation activities in the United States through the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), but not all aircraft operations are regulated equally. Part 135 charter operators are among the most strictly regulated aircraft operators in the United States. In fact, the FAA holds these operators, their aircraft, and flight crews to a standard that far exceeds that of a non-licensed or “grey” charter operation.
Jet Linx not only meets the FAA’s stringent Part 135 requirements, but often exceeds them. “Our clients and aircraft owners have the peace of mind knowing their aircraft is being managed and operated by some of the most knowledgeable aviation professionals in the industry,” stated Ray Bennett, Jet Linx Vice President of Sales. “Part 135 regulations only set minimum safety requirements, which Jet Linx chooses to exceed. We are an International Business Aviation Council (IS-BAO) Stage 3 registered operator and have earned ARGUS Platinum and Wyvern Wingman safety ratings. Our pilots are also trained through FlightSafety International.”
Having a trained and experienced pilot in the cockpit is your most important safety device in any aircraft. “Jet Linx pilots receive initial training in the specific aircraft they will be flying,” noted Mike Kopp, Jet Linx Director of Operations. “This training consists of both ground school, covering aircraft systems, and simulator training. After the training is complete, they must pass a check ride with an FAA flight inspector. Our pilots also receive recurrent training, which includes aircraft systems reviews and additional simulator training. Pilots also undergo routine flight checks required by Part 135. If you’re using a grey “charter” operator, then the flight crew isn’t subject to these frequent checks, nor are they held to the Jet Linx training standard, which exceeds that of the FAA.”
Extensive experience in the cockpit is a founding tenant of the Jet Linx training standard. Jet Linx captains (PIC) are required to have 3,000 hours minimum, unless waived by the Director of Operations or System Chief Pilot, with a minimum of 1,500 hours for co-pilots (SIC). The FAA minimum for a captain could be as low as 1,500 total time, and for a SIC, as little as 250 hours. “Our policy of much higher minimums follows the ARGUS standard, which is a key component of our standing Platinum rating,” Kopp noted.
Unlike the “grey” charter market, all operators under FAR 135 are subject to the same checking requirements and frequency. Often, the check-rides are conducted by FAA inspectors, but more frequently by FAA and company designated check pilots. Check pilots are typically senior captains employed by Jet Linx or FAA authorized contract check pilots working for Flight Safety or CAE.
Additionally, Part 135 charter operators must follow the FAA’s pilot rest and duty requirements. The FAA doesn’t want sleepy pilots at the controls, and you don’t either! In general, Part 135 pilots should be able to look-back 24 hours at any given point and see 10 consecutive hours of rest. If the pilot can’t do that, then the pilot can’t fly.
“This is one of the biggest safety benefits of flying Part 135,” remarked Kali Hague, Jetlaw, LLC Attorney and Jet Linx Legal Counsel. “Almost every illegal charter operator doesn’t follow rest and duty requirements, which is a huge safety issue. Think about driving for eight hours when you’re sleepy. Then think about having to land a 18,000-pound jet!”
“Safety is one of our core values at Jet Linx,” Kopp noted, adding, “We take duty time regulation seriously, ensuring that our flight crews can perform their job safely. It may necessitate some additional planning if we’re dealing with weather delays, but our pilots are so well-managed this is generally not prohibitive enough to limit travel schedules.”
Private jet operators like Jet Linx proactively identify and manage risks through the use of Safety Management Systems (SMS). Under a formalized SMS, operators identify potential hazards and ensure that a process is in place to effectively manage them. These systems are an important part of safe aircraft operations.
“Jet Linx believes in taking a proactive approach in all aspects of our business, but especially in safety,” Kari Johnson, Jet Linx Director of Safety explained. “We implemented our Safety Management System in 2006 – five years before the FAA announced SMS would be required by Part 135 operators. We have earned an ARGUS Platinum Safety Rating – the highest safety awarded to an operator – in every audit since 2005. To ensure our SMS is maintained, practiced, and up to date, we have partnered with ARGUS for continued internal evaluation of the program. Of the 2,300 Part 135 operators in the United States, less than 4% have earned a Platinum rating.”
One of the key benefits of partnering with a reputable aircraft charter management company is not only their knowledge and strict adherence to the higher standards of Part 135 regulations, but also the drive to constantly improve the overall maintenance program of the air carrier through the Continuous Analysis Surveillance System (CASS) process. An effective CASS process drives an operator to continuously look for areas of improvement in their maintenance program which drives overall safety as well as performance and covers a wide area from the actual OEM recommended maintenance program to how effective are the vendors quality programs that work on the carrier’s aircraft.
“Our goal at Jet Linx is not to only meet the minimum standards, but to exceed them whenever possible,” stated Todd Hattaway, Jet Linx Vice President of Operations. “Our footprint and maintenance approach provide us the ability to become intimately familiar with the aircraft at the Base level, with our dedicated workforce and having the network and oversight at our National Operations Center and supporting Bases to ensure that our standards are met at all times.”
The Jet Linx commitment to safety extends to outsourced trip operations as well. “A significant benefit to flying with Jet Linx is that we have a dedicated manager assigned to inspect and approve every outsourced operator we use,” stated Drew Fraber, Jet Linx Director of Compliance. “Furthermore, our inspection process is a bit more detailed than what most brokers provide. While we do gather insurance certificates, air carrier certificates and emergency contact information (as any good broker should), none of that information gives us a true pulse on the safety culture of the operation. Jet Linx goes above and beyond what most brokers provide in that we gather data pertaining to the various safety measures that have been incorporated into an operation. Things such as a SMS and a thorough understanding of the operator’s flight crew training program assist us in understanding the true measure of an operator’s safety culture. All of this data is reviewed and tracked on an annual basis.”
“We urge prospective clients to research what makes an operator safe and then ask the broker to validate this information before their flight,” Fraber continued. “They may be surprised by the lack of information their broker can provide. Jet Linx has long maintained the stance that simply abiding by the FAA’s minimum standard is not acceptable. Any good operator will exceed those standards.”
Whether you’re an aircraft owner in the Jet Linx Aircraft Management program or a Jet Linx Jet Card member, you can be confident “Your Personal Jet Company” follows, and often exceeds, the stringent requirements and regulations set by the FAA as a premiere Part 135 operator in the United States. The vast knowledge our team of aviation professionals, combined with a solid corporate culture, ensures Jet Linx clients are provided an honest, by-the-book private aviation experience.
To learn more about the Jet Linx Jet Card program and the aircraft management services Jet Linx can provide, please contact us and discover first-hand how our aviation professionals execute a seamless aviation experience.