Article On Business Aviation Draws Intense Fire From NBAA
This just in from the NBAA...
An article in a recent edition of Forbes Magazine ("Flight of Fear," April 9), overlooked the
strong safety standards, stringent levels of federal oversight, and
outstanding operational history for charter aviation companies and
their pilots. The fact is, the continuing emphasis on safety is the
very reason that thousands of charter operators fly millions of
hours each year without incident.
Here's the real story about the charter industry. Charter
companies and pilots are certified by the FAA before they are
allowed to fly. Thereafter, their operations are, at FAA's
discretion and within its resources, subject to constant oversight
under rigid safety regulations. This is the same model used by the
FAA to oversee airline safety.
Obtaining a charter operator's certificate is a time-consuming,
thorough procedure, sometimes taking up to a year. The process for
certification is overseen by the FAA, and is subject to unannounced
safety spot checks by FAA officials. Charter company operations
manuals are required by the FAA, and must be approved by FAA
officials. FAA staff routinely audit charter operators' records,
which can also be subject to periodic safety review by independent
Charter pilot qualifications are comparable to those for
commercial airline pilots, including minimums for training and
flight-time experience. The facilities that conduct safety training
programs for charter pilots are held to the same rigorous standards
as the centers that train airline pilots. And, the requirements for
ensuring that charter pilots fly in safe weather conditions are
comparable to - and at times more stringent than - those for the
But why take our word for it? In a document produced by the
Department of Transportation (DOT), entitled "Chartering an
Aircraft, A Consumer Guide", the DOT states:
"Any air taxi operator
that offers services to the public must by law be certified by the
FAA and meet stringent operational, maintenance, and safety rules.
In addition, the pilots must be specifically qualified.
"The regulations for air taxis provide for a high level of
safety and control. They address flight operations, maintenance
requirements, and crew member training and testing. The FAR's also
address crew rest, physical examinations, and mandate a stringent
anti-drug program for operators. The FAA closely monitors air taxi
operators to make sure that they conform to the established
standards of performance."
"Chartering an Aircraft, A Consumer Guide"
U.S. Department of Transportation
Finally, the story never made clear to readers that the FAA's
tracking methods for the complex charter industry produce an
unclear and misrepresentative depiction of the safety of various
charter operations. For instance, the FAA lumps together
single-engine piston-powered charter flights in Alaska with
multi-engine charter jets operations, which have a significantly
better safety record. The National Business Aviation Association
has repeatedly requested that the FAA re-examine its methods for
tracking charter safety data (so that statistical
mischaracterizations like those included in the "Forbes" story can
It's unfortunate that the charter industry was misrepresented to
readers of "Forbes" magazine.