Our Charter Operators
Obtaining a license to fly air charter can be a daunting task. It takes several months to as much as two years to meet the FAA standards under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Personnel must have a minimum of three years of prior air charter experience before they can qualify to own an air charter company. Every part and component on the aircraft must be documented to show they are within the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) time limits for replacement before they can be certified for air charter.
Once an air charter certificate is obtained, it is equally difficult to maintain it. There are comprehensive recordkeeping requirements to insure the air charter operator is complying with all FAA regulations. In addition, the FAA can make unannounced visits to inspect their operation. If any element does not meet FAA standards, the government can, and usually does, shut the company down.
This also applies to the individual pilot and the aircraft, both of which are susceptible to FAA “ramp checks.” These are surprise inspections at airports where an FAA inspector can walk up to an air charter pilot and demand that he or she prove they and their airplane are legal for the flight.
Private jet flight departments and fractional ownership companies who operate under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) often say they maintain the same standards as charter operators and the airlines. But, because they operate under a different section of the FARs, they are typically not subject to the same FAA scrutiny of their operations. One example is the replacement of parts and components which are replaced only when they break. With Part 135 Charter Operators, those same parts and components must be replaced in accordance with FAA time guidelines, whether they are broken or not.
These are terms developed by air charter brokers to help market their services. In essence, the air charter operator, who is already certified by the FAA, pays the air charter broker to visit their facility and conduct an inspection. The ARGUS or YVERN approval is merely a snapshot of how the operator is doing at the time of review. The bronze, silver, gold or platinum certificates awarded are generally based on how much the Air Charter Operator is willing to pay the broker for their inspections. As recently as twenty years ago, there were a number of marginal air charter operators. Today, however, the FAA is doing a much better job of monitoring the industry. So, even if an air charter operator has not paid for an ARGUS or YVERN certificate, you will still receive safe and reliable service from them.