Private air charter has become a more popular option for travelers looking to fly with convenience and style in mind. However, not all air charter operators comply with the regulations and laws put in place by the aviation industry. Some do not meet safety, operational, and regulatory standards that are necessary to be a reliable provider. This is what’s considered an illegal air charter.

But how can you identify an illegal air charter before planning a trip? Individuals who book illegal air charter may face financial and legal consequences, all while putting themselves at risk by flying without proper safety regulations in tact.

Knowing how to identify illegal air charter, and better educating yourself on the potential in general, can keep you better informed to plan a safe private plane experience. Let’s take a closer look at what an illegal air charter looks like, the risks associated with it and how to identify it.

What is an Illegal Jet Charter?

According to the Air Charter Association, illegal charter operations involve an operator flying an aircraft that doesn’t have an Air Operator Certificate. Without the proper authorization or certification, aircraft owners can’t comply with the rules and regulations that are necessary to keep the flight crew and passengers safe during travel.

Illegal air charter goes beyond neglecting to get certified for charter flights; it comes in many forms. It can also involve operating an aircraft that hasn’t been inspected or properly maintained to meet The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Illegal air charter may also involve a pilot controlling the aircraft who doesn’t have the proper training, licensing or qualifications to operate the aircraft safely. Legitimate air charter operations require a lot of attention and maintenance to meet general FAA requirements and avoid civil penalties:

“Air charter operations — also known as commuter and on demand operations — require a higher level of FAA pilot training and certification, aircraft maintenance procedures, and operational safety rules, than pilots who may take family or friends for an airplane ride. FAA inspectors perform more frequent periodic checks on air charter companies’ pilots, crewmembers and aircraft than they do on private pilot operations. And charter companies’ crewmembers must undergo regular proficiency checks to maintain their FAA certifications.”

Risks and Consequences Involved in Illegal Charter

Booking a private flight without doing your research in advance can lead to serious risks and consequences involving your safety, finances, and the legal system.

“The biggest risk of flying with an illegal charter operator is that they are not certificated by the FAA. Since Part 135 operators transport passengers or property for hire, they are subject to more stringent regulations. While many Part 91 operators adhere to similar standards, they have not gone through the FAA certification process to carry passengers and property for hire,” as explained by the National Business Aviation Association.

Finding an air charter service provider that meets legal requirements can ensure your safety and satisfaction for your air charter experience.

  • Safety risks. Private air charter is subject to a safety management system to ensure all flight attendees travel safely. Illegal charter doesn’t necessarily follow the same regulations and this can have an impact on accidents if they occur.
  • Legal consequences. Since an illegal air charter is against general aviation regulation, those involved with the flight may face legal consequences and penalties, some that may result in fines or imprisonment.
  • Insurance claims. In some cases, noncommercial operators will carry different types of insurance as an air charter plane; one is qualified to provide flights for profit and the other cannot.
  • Financial losses. Beyond the fines faced for illegal air charter, incidents that occur on non-regulation private flights can come with other financial losses, such as expenses related to disrupting flight schedules.

How to Spot and Avoid Illegal Air Charter

To assist passengers and customers in the effort to combat illegal charter, the Air Charter Safety Alliance launched an initiative in 2020 to address the growing concern and keep flyers safe. Beyond putting these authoritative measures in motion for illegal charter, passengers and air charter passengers can stay vigilant and do their due diligence during the booking process to determine if they are pursuing regulated aircraft charter or an illegal charter flight.

Some of the simple ways you can weed out illegal operations and find legitimate charter include:

  • Ask for records. When booking private air charter, as for copies of the air carrier certification, as well as validation that the selected aircraft is legally available for charter. If the aircraft owner is reluctant to provide the necessary information, consider this a red flag and move on to a different provider.
  • Get to know the pilot. Take the time to get to know who’s flying the aircraft. Your pilot needs to have proper qualifications and licensing; verifying these pilot credentials in advance can help you feel more secure in your choice to fly with this selected aircraft and crew.
  • Don’t fall for low prices. Flying by private jet isn’t a small expense. If you find a “deal” on a private jet charter, this could be an obvious sign that it’s an illegal air charter. Do more research on this provider before taking the next step.

With these tips in mind, you can feel more confident about planning safe and reliable travel by private jet.

Book Safe Air Charter with Stratos

All privately owned aircraft that are used for private jet charter in the U.S. are subject to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 by the FAA. Part 135 certification outlines regulations for the smaller aircraft to ensure all passengers and crew safety while aboard. To meet the compliance requirements for private jet charter safety, Stratos only works with aircraft and operators who can meet FAA regulations and standards.

With these standards in place, we can address private jet charter safety concerns, keep all aircraft in shape with routine maintenance, and ensure the flight staff is fully experienced and certified to provide the best possible private air charter experience.

We’ve also developed a supplementary due-diligence program with additional safety criteria for all private jet charters. This attention to detail allows us to avoid illegal jet charter and ensure your private flight is fully the control of safe and qualified staff members.

Ready to book your private flight? Contact our private flight advisors at 888-593-9066 to learn more or get your online quote today.