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Charter jet pilots are highly trained, heavily experienced, and certified to carry passengers under Part 135 of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's). Your personal well-being is secure, as is the performance and aircraft safety record of whichever charter plane you select. Much like the captain of a sea-going vessel, charter aircraft pilots have a wide latitude of authority.
As you might imagine, voluminous aircraft safety policies, procedures, and regulations exist that recommend or mandate standard actions to promote safety and security. In the overwhelming majority of situations, using these procedures ensure the highest level of airplane safety. However, just as when we are driving or boating, unexpected situations occur that create danger.
When dangerous conditions occur, charter plane pilots have the authority – often, the obligation – to take all intelligent actions that further protect passenger and plane safety. The higher, stricter training level of Part 135 certified pilots and crews, their experience, and their superior ability to evaluate a problem and act decisively to correct it, all contribute to a safe and enjoyable charter jet experience.
Aircraft safety record data can be found that applies to both charter plane models and manufacturers. You can also locate specific plane safety history for the charter jet you prefer. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and other organizations compile voluminous statistics on even the most minor incidents involving all commercial and private aircraft.
Every incident experienced by individual aircraft becomes part of that model's airplane safety record. As this data is compiled, a profile is created for different models of aircraft. This becomes an aircraft safety record for a specific model.
Similarly, incidents that may occur to specific charter plane airframes are also noted in the aircraft's history. It is important to note that many items called incidents have little or nothing to do with a specific charter jet or pertain to plane safety. History shows that the majority of incidents are the result of pilot actions, not aircraft issues.
If you examine the aircraft safety record data of the charter plane models currently flying, you'll be pleased to learn of the rarity of mechanical incidents recorded. It should be comforting to know that your next charter jet flight should be on a very safe aircraft.
In most cases, your charter plane will carry the same level of safety equipment found on all commercial airliners. There are a few situations wherein a full complement of safety equipment is not required for optimum aircraft safety. For example, if you're taking a short flight and not passing over any body of water, life preservers are not technically required to be on board since they have no useful purpose. You will often find them on board anyway.
You should still receive a pre-flight safety briefing, just as you do on commercial airliners. Your pilot (or crew) will deliver passenger safety information to you. Your charter jet should also have a variety of commonly termed “survival” equipment, which may include material to start a fire, items to provide shelter, water (or material to purify water), and distress signal equipment.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires your charter plane to carry much the same equipment for airplane safety as found on commercial flights, including, but not limited to, fire extinguishers, flash lights, passenger safety briefing material, and first aid kits. You should feel just as safe on a charter jet as you do on any commercial flight.
All aircraft certified to fly should have both extensive maintenance documentation and a recorded aircraft safety history. The requirements for maintenance records are much more strict than you'd find with automobiles, boats, or other vehicles. All maintenance operations must be detailed and specific. A charter jet, as with all other certified aircraft, must not only record all maintenance activity, but also have these documents available for inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Safety related issues, often termed “incidents,” might be recorded by a number of different sources. For example, should an incident occur during landing activity, the pilot of the aircraft involved may report the incident, a pilot from another airplane that might have been involved or who was a witness from another private or charter plane, the air traffic controller(s) in the tower, or a witness on the ground.
It's important to remember that “incidents” are more likely to be pilot-related than purely airplane-related as most planes currently flying have exemplary aircraft safety records. However, all recorded incidents can be found using various Internet resources like the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and other databases that permit public access.
Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's) are designed to promote aircraft safety for pilots, crews, passengers, and the rest of the public community. An incredible list of topics from aircraft design to hot air ballooning, through model airplane safety is covered in the FAR's. Part 135 stipulates airplane safety regulations that apply to all commercial flight operations.
All charter jet aircraft are covered under the auspice of Part 135, since these planes are operated “for compensation or hire.” The safety standards for aircraft and pilots are much higher than Part 91, which contains regulations for private pilots and airplanes. All legitimate air charter companies should offer Part 135 certified pilots and aircraft that conform to these safety regulations.
These higher safety and performance standards typically enhance and improve aircraft safety and security. Charter jet pilots must have all competency and medical certifications specified in FAR Part 91, which pertains to private pilot certification. They then must go the extra mile to upgrade to Part 135 certification to legally carry passengers safely to their destinations. This extra level of expertise of pilots and aircraft standards contributes to improved plane safety.
The logical place to learn about aircraft safety is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website. In addition to accident and “incident” data, the FAA also publishes “airworthiness directives,” which contain official comments on a myriad of issues concerning aircraft, airframes, and flight tendencies. Along with promulgating most commercial and private aviation regulations, the FAA is dedicated to maintaining the wonderful aircraft safety record in the U.S.
In addition, there is a civil aviation authority (CAA) in many countries that certifies non-commercial aircraft and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) provides regulatory advice to the European Union. The EASA has more or less supplanted the regulatory agencies of the individual countries in the E.U. These agencies certify aircraft and compile data on plane safety records.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates and analyzes all aircraft-related accidents and safety issues in the U.S. They have compiled a wealth of information regarding airplane safety.
The safety records of any charter jet you might desire are available in these and other databases. Charter plane safety history is generally excellent and manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure that continuing safety is a top priority.
An individual aircraft's safety record or "clean bill of health" based on maintenance records can be very assuring, but it is important to know that aircraft charter companies do not manage the planes, or control the pilots. It's easy to forget that the charter plane company is a source of information about the pilots and aircraft rather than the controlling interest. If you need further information on a particular airplane, your aircraft charter agent may be able to assist you, but can also do your own research; check the manufacturer's website for additional details. Such a search on the Citation X, for example, will reveal the aircraft's design team won a 1996 award given for performance, efficiency, and safety. Such information is definitely reassuring.
A big part of charter jet safety involves luggage and cargo. In many cases, a charter passenger is subject to the same restrictions as commercial jet passengers; the rules set by the charter company governing smoking on board, hazardous cargo, and who is allowed to occupy the cockpit aren't done arbitrarily, they are designed for maximum flight safety on a charter plane. If you require transportation of hazardous materials, firearms, or other problematic items, it's best to discuss these needs when you book your charter travel. Advance planning can prevent your trip from being delayed or cancelled. In many cases cargo labelled as "hazardous" may simply need special containers or other arrangements, and may be permitted in your checked luggage.
If you have ever flown on a commercial airline, you've likely seen the safety briefing that plays on a small TV that drops down from the ceiling. It provides information on flotation devices and exit seats. If you look around the cabin, though, you'll see almost no one listening. Most people are busy with magazines or pillows. But these safety briefings are important and in the event of a real emergency, you'll be glad you listened. The pilot in command is obligated to see that all passengers have been briefed, but it doesn't mean he must know if everyone completely understands.
Passengers must be briefed on when, where and under what conditions the safety belt must be fastened. They must also be told how to fasten and unfasten them. This briefing must include lighted passenger information signs and crew member instructions. Passengers should also be told the location of the fire extinguishers, flotation devices, all exits and how to operate them. Passengers are also shown the proper way to use oxygen masks in an emergency for flights above 12,000 feet.
In order to protect all passengers on an aircraft charter, regulations have been put in place for emergency situations. For emergency evacuation duties, each certificate holder must assign specific duties to crew members during an emergency evacuation. The certificate holder will ensure that the functions, such as deployment of slides, can be carried out during any reasonably anticipated emergency, including incapacitation of other crew members or their inability to reach the passenger cabin because of shifting cargo. The certificate holder must also describe in the safety and procedure manual the functions of the crew members. This is meant to ensure that the crews have an understanding of what is expected of them if the situation occurs.
Many charters operate worldwide requiring them to fly over water, therefore the operator is required to have several pieces of survival equipment on-board. The items include: one approved survivor locator light and one approved flare. The aircraft charters must also have either one survival kit, appropriately equipped for the route to be flown; or one canopy (for sail, sunshade, or rain catcher), one radar reflector; one life raft repair kit; one bailing bucket; one signaling mirror; one police whistle; one raft knife; one CO2 bottle for emergency inflation; one inflation pump; two oars; one 75-foot retaining line; one magnetic compass; one dye marker; one flashlight having at least two size “D” cells or equivalent and a 2-day supply of emergency food rations supplying at least 1,000 calories per day for each person.
For each two persons the raft is rated to carry, the aircraft charter should have two pints of water or one sea water desalting kit; one fishing kit; and one book on survival appropriate for the area where the aircraft is operated and an approved survival-type emergency locator transmitter. Batteries used in this transmitter must be replaced (or recharged, if the batteries are rechargeable) when the transmitter has been in use for more than one cumulative hour or 50 percent of their useful life. This is called an ELT and most all planes flown today, big and small, have them as standard equipment.
The pilot in command of a charter plane may not begin any flight unless he or she has determined that the required inspections have been made. This inspection of a charter plane is a normal part of any pilot's daily pre-flight procedures, which are done by following a detailed checklist. Each certificate holder and those who work for the charter plane will allow the FAA, at any time or place, to make inspections or conduct tests (including en route inspections) to be sure of the holder's compliance with the Federal Aviation regulations, the certificate holder's operating certificate and operations specifications.
Aircraft owners are responsible for maintaining their aircraft and pilots are responsible for making sure the aircraft is fit to fly by their visual inspections. Detailed records must be kept of all maintenance. At anytime, a mechanic or FAA rep can look to see if records are up-to-date.
There are even regulations on how the records must be kept. Periodically, aircraft manufacturers issue aircraft directives, which are actions that must be taken to keep the aircraft safe. These details are not voluntary and must be noted in the aircraft's records. Because an aircraft is used in a commercial capacity, it falls under more inspection rules than private planes. For rentals, an annual inspection is required, as well as an every-one-hundred-hour inspection.
According to FAA regulations, an air charter service can't operate an aircraft unless the aircraft and its equipment have been approved and meet the applicable regulations. Furthermore, the equipment must be in operable condition, but no person may operate an aircraft under this part unless the required instruments and equipment are in it. This includes: an ATC transponder meeting performance and environmental requirements and a sensitive altimeter that is adjustable for barometric pressure. To allow charters to file flight plans and fly in bad weather conditions, the aircraft must also have heating or de-icing equipment for each carburetor. For a pressure carburetor, an alternate air source for turbojet airplanes is required. In addition to two artificial horizons for use at the pilot stations onboard the airplane, a third indicator is installed in accordance with regulations. No aircraft may be operated without the proper anti-collision, navigation and positioning lights and any other equipment the administrator may require. It's important to know that this is a basic outline and more detailed air charter operations may need additional addendums. An aircraft that doesn't comply with equipment regulations is not airworthy and will be grounded until it can be fixed.
The term "Part 135" refers to a section in the Federal Aviation regulation manual pertaining to commuter and on-demand operations and rules that apply to people onboard. An “eligible on-demand operation” must have a two-pilot crew, who are employed or contracted by the certificate holder.
The crew members must have met the applicable requirements of Part 61 and have the following experience and ratings: the pilot-in-command must have a minimum of 1,500 hours and second-in-command must have a minimum of 500 hours. In addition, for specific aircrafts such as a multi-engine turbine-powered fixed-wing and power-lift aircraft, the following FAA certification and ratings requirements must be met: pilot-in-command must have an airline transport pilot rating. The second-in-command or co-pilot must have a commercial pilot and instrument rating. These specific rules are in place to protect the traveler from unqualified pilots. Other regulations ruling over charter on-demand operations are maintenance regulations, insurances and duty times.
Aircraft charter rules governing firearms and ammunition may permit you to travel with weapons stowed in the checked baggage. Never pack a
loaded weapon, and always "clear" a weapon before putting it in its case for stowing on a charter plane. It's preferable to pack a disassembled weapon for maximum safety. Never assume that you are permitted to fly with ammunition even if it is transported separately from your firearms. You may be required to leave it behind. The pilot of a charter plane has the right to inspect all luggage and has the discretion to declare your luggage unfit to fly unless prohibited or
controlled items are properly dealt with.
When trying to book a charter plane, the best charter companies state up front that all aircraft and operators meet FAA Part 135 Requirements. This means that the aircraft and crews meet aircraft safety standards set down by the FAA, and are considered "approved to fly." If you are considering a charter flight from a company that doesn't clearly state a demand for nothing less than FAA Part 135 compliance, take your business elsewhere. That charter company may still be in compliance with the law, but the best charter companies are mindful of the public's need for safety assurances from the industry and will provide those assurances clearly. Anything less implies carelessness with the customer's needs.
Aircraft charter companies are required to submit to FAA Part 135 requirements, but to the average charter passenger, Part 135 is a bit of a mystery. Under Part 135, Charter planes are required to submit to a certification team which will examine an aircraft's compliance with applicable FAA safety procedures, maintenance, and other issues. This is no mere formality, it's a bona fide compliance inspection. A charter plane cannot legally operate without the blessing of the certification team. An aircraft that meets Part 135 requirements has passed the FAA's test and has been given the government's stamp of approval to operate.
During an emergency situation, the pilot may deviate from the rules relating to aircraft equipment and weather minimums to deal with the emergency. The pilot in command is the last authority over the safety of the flight and can take whatever action is necessary to safeguard passengers, even if it means landing somewhere and removing a hostile passenger, rerouting the flight to another destination or ending the flight completely. If the pilot does deviate, he must send a complete report of the aircraft operation involved, including a description of the deviation and reasons for it to the FAA Flight Standards District Office within 10 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. In addition, whenever a pilot encounters a potentially hazardous meteorological condition or an irregularity in a ground communications or navigational facility in flight, the pilot is required to report it to the proper ground service.
The best charter jet companies will anticipate your safety concerns about charter aircraft, and provide you with information about a particular jet's maintenance record on request.While such a practice may provide assurance about the mechanical fitness of the aircraft, but what about the pilots themselves? Some charter jet companies do address this issue directly, requiring a pilot have between three and five thousand hours in the cockpit before they are eligible to take charter assignments from the company. That level of experience means a pilot is well qualified to handle every detail of your charter flight. If you have safety concerns about flying, stick with charter jet companies who have such pilot requirements. You will definitely be in good hands.
All top air charter companies use pilots and aircraft that are certified per Part 135 of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's). Why is this beneficial to you, the charter jet traveler? Part 135 specifies that while every charter plane needs to be deemed airworthy, aircraft safety is strongly enhanced by meeting the strict requirements specified in Part 135 for airplanes that fly “for compensation or hire.”
Higher standards of skill and experience also apply to pilots and crews, further enhancing your airplane safety. Charter jet professional pilots have completed extra training and have accumulated additional experience and expertise of the highest level. All have initially achieved Part 91 certification (for private pilots) and have since progressed through Part 135 certification – establishing their qualifications as experts.
Should you consider using a charter jet offered by a company that cannot guarantee that their aircraft and crew is Part 135 certified, you should proceed carefully. At least, ask why this condition exists since all aircraft and crews are required to be Part 135 certified if they carry passengers for “compensation.” Using the top air charter firms should eliminate any concerns you have as they not only understand the plane safety regulations, they have reached the pinnacle of success by giving their clients only the best charter jet aircraft and pilots available today.
Safety and security regulations used for commercial flights technically apply to charter jet travel, too. As all are aware, former regulations were strongly tightened in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. However, one of the most enjoyable benefits of charter plane travel is the manner in which these regulations are applied. There is no lessening of aircraft safety concerns, but you'll be pleased with security regulation implementation on charter plane trips.
Unless you enjoy waiting in long airport security lines, only to be required to remove your shoes (and sometimes other clothing articles), you will love using a charter jet with no compromise in safety. Your pilot has the authority to conduct safety and security measures identical to standard commercial airport security systems. On most occasions, however, you should be allowed to reach your charter plane, board, and begin to relax. Most often, you can wait until you're settled into your luxurious seat before you consider removing your shoes. Your airplane safety is secure and your relaxation is maximized.