Just like any other industry, business aviation is vulnerable to the practices of fraud. When money and profit become a scope of the business, it can sabotage the safety of the client and the parties involved. In recent years, the illegal practice of illegal grey charters has been making headlines in the newspapers. Illegal charter flights occur regularly all around the world and not only does it damage the reputation of business aviation, but it also puts travellers at risk.
What is an illegal “grey” charter?
Commercially operated flights require a valid Air Operators Certificate (AOC). An illegal charter involves an operation of the flight where the AOC is not presented, meaning that legally there can be no payment involved in the operation of the flight.
A valid AOC highlights that the aircraft operator is adhering to the rules and regulations that have been designed to ensure the safety of the crew and the passengers on the charter flight. The rules and regulations involve aircraft maintenance, ground operations, crew training and experience, insurance as well as flight operations.
The main difference between a private flight and a commercial flight is that safety management is not prioritised in a private flight. The flight operator who does not have a valid AOC does not need to adhere to the same regulations as the AOC holder. They can bypass the requirements such as crew training, aircraft maintenance, checking and safety oversight.
The passengers who are paying a fare for a commercially operated charter flight expect the highest standards and the layers of safety for both the passengers and the crew should always be the priority.
Identifying an illegal charter
When it comes to chartering a private jet, it is important to consider every aspect of the flight beforehand. Although charter flights are primarily based on the price, if the price seems too low, you should always be cautious.
The benefits of chartering a private jet are vast. The booking experience can sometimes be really complex, especially if you’re chartering for the first time. However, if you follow the correct guidance, your private jet charter experience can be seamless and stress-free.
The main priority of avoiding an illegal ‘grey’ charter should always be safety. By booking an aircraft that adheres to the rules and regulations set by the authorities, you will not need to worry about the legality and safety of such a charter.
Before booking an air charter flight, you should always take these points into account:
- Does the operator hold a valid Air Operators Certificate (AOC)?
- Does the operator hold a valid Certificate of Airworthiness?
- Are you using an accredited charter broker?
- Do the pilot(s) on the charter flight hold the right qualifications?
- What is the jurisdiction the aircraft is registered under?
And of course, the rule of thumb is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Sometimes an aircraft operator or a broker can offer a significantly lower price than the competitors, that is why it is important to consider the points above to avoid an illegal charter.
The risks of an illegal charter
Apart from the risks outlined above, other points are worth highlighting. When the valid AOC is present during an operation of the flight, the aircraft will be overseen and checked by the aviation experts, removing as much risk as possible. The vetting process of the charter flight happens before the passengers get on the plane and it involves rigorous processes of aircraft maintenance, crew qualification checks and inspections by the aviation authorities.
Every layer of oversight matters when a flight by a licensed air carrier takes off:
- Every pilot must be fully licensed and trained in normal and emergency procedures every six months
- Auditing services of third parties such as handling agents and fuel companies are carried out
When an illegal charter happens, not only it can void the insurance obtained by the operator, but it can also void the life insurance of the passengers on board. All the processed of maintenance, handling and fuelling within an illegal charter are carried out by the pilot alone, with no checks involved.
In order to avoid an illegal charter, you can always check the Air Charter Association directory of accredited members within the business aviation industry. Always use a licensed aircraft operator and an accredited broker, so your private jet charter flight can remain safe, seamless and secure.
If you would like to book your private jet flight with an accredited broker, you can always contact us to discuss your requirements.
Air Charter Association: www.theaircharterassociation.aero
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