News & Views
How to Become a Charter Pilot
If you dream of flying a G650, but don’t exactly know how to get your foot in the door, below are a few tips to help your charter pilot career take flight:
1. Build Flight Hours
It is important to log as many flight hours as possible. But how many flight hours do you need? Commercial airlines prefer a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time. However, most charter companies prefer about 3,000 flight hours.
2. Become a Flight Instructor
Flight instructors get paid to fly! In addition, they get to log their flight time as PIC (Pilot-In-Command). Because flying can be expensive, this is one of the most economical ways to accumulate flight time. Furthermore, being an instructor is an excellent way to increase your knowledge and flight skills.
3. Choose a Flight Path
Commercial airlines generally do not require new pilots to have as many hours as charter companies. Also, most charter companies prefer that new hires already have their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate — because this is a requirement for commercial airlines, you might want to start with a commercial airline to increase your flight time and get your ATP.
4. Know What Flight Departments are Looking For
In addition to building your flight hours, customer service experience is also extremely important. Unlike commercial airline pilots, charter pilots work closely with their customers. They are responsible for coordinating ground transportation, catering and other special requests their customers might have. Charter companies realize this and look for potential pilots who have a strong customer service background. Excellent customer service can turn a one-time customer into a customer for life.
Once you obtain your commercial pilot license with 250 hours of flight time, there are a few other paths to consider for building your flight hours:
Skydiving Flights – Pilots can quickly earn hours flying a variety of aircraft for skydivers. The more experience you have, the better chance of flying a turbine-powered aircraft, such as a King Air, Beech 99, or a Cessna Caravan.
Towing – You can learn to become a tow pilot for sailplanes.
Scenic Flights – There are many scenic tour operators in the Western United States which provide opportunities for you to get paid to build your time.
Several of our pilots at Keystone Aviation have pursued their career opportunities through the above avenues.
So now that you know the steps to start building your pilot resume, get out there and fly!
DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.
Keystone Aviation Has Mastered Welcoming New Charter Customers
Keystone Aviation has always known the extensive benefits of flying private. It seems the rest of the world is starting to notice as well. In fact, Keystone Aviation has experienced a progressive uptick in both returning and new clients requesting private jet charter services since the pandemic began.
The value of private air travel is now more than ever apparent, and Keystone Aviation has adapted quickly to welcome first time private jet charter customers to the market. New clients want to know exactly what it means to fly private and what chartering an aircraft entails. As stated in the article “Will new customers shape the industry?” by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), customers new to the charter industry want to know they are flying with a reputable and safe operation. One way to discern safety is to look at the operations safety record, and certification with third party auditors like those Keystone Aviation holds including, ARGUS Platinum and Wyvern. Keystone Aviation Chief Operating Officer, Aaron Fish, shared “The Keystone Aviation team of seasoned experts are here to help our clients every step of the way, including answering any and all questions that come with chartering for the first time.”
It starts with communication such as a phone a call or email to our sales team to share your travel plans and needs. Once the team understands the travel mission they prepare a quote with suggested (or requested) aircraft type and all of the necessary steps to get the travelers to their destination. Following the confirmation of trip details, the trip planning and scheduling passes onto the flight coordination team to arrange catering, ground transportation and any other details requested to make the trip flow from arrival at the departing airport until they arrive at their destination. On the day of departure, the travelers arrive at their specified time driving straight to the aircraft for loading and a breezy departure.
Charter customers are seeking ways to better protect their families and business associates while maintaining the freedom to travel when and where needed. In order to provide the highest level of sanitization and protect the health of passengers and crew each aircraft at Keystone Aviation is deeply sanitized after every flight. When flying private travelers can also rest easy as they circumvent crowded commercial terminals without transfers and layovers getting them to their specific destinations with less points of contact. All these factors make flying private invaluable.
Navigating the ever-changing pandemic environment has not been without challenges for charter companies. What was once a routine task of flying anywhere in the world now requires significant research and time planning the most efficient route and points of contact to mitigate risk and meet local, state and federal guidelines set as a part of the health management programs. Augmented vetting of travel destinations: researching the local health environment, city health visitation requirements and implementing appropriate safety protocols to mitigate risk add steps into the planning and travel for private jet charters.
Travel environments change rapidly and although each day comes with its own set of challenges, the pandemic has ultimately made private aviation operations safer and more appealing. With these changes come the need for expertise and knowledge to navigate the requirements, and help new private jet charter passengers get where they want, as safe as possible.
“Our number one responsibility is the safety and protection of crew and passengers,” said Dan Govatos, Keystone Aviation Director of Operations. “We take it very seriously and do everything we can to make sure we limit potential exposure contact points. Masks, gloves and enhanced aircraft cleaning are now part of our everyday procedures.” If you are thinking about trying a private charter service and want the assurance that comes with a 25 year old private jet charter company, that continues to define new standards to meet changing requirements in air travel.
How Keystone Aviation Maintains Clean and Sanitized Charter Aircraft
Keystone Aviation is committed to making sure all aircraft are sanitized before and after trips. Amid the current situation, we have enhanced aircraft sanitation and cleanliness to keep customers and associates safe while continuing to provide private air charter services. Here is an article written by Nathan Hawkinson, Owner of Detail Aircraft Cleaning LLC, a company Keystone Aviation partners with for aircraft cleaning and sanitizing between each flight.
Now, more than ever, it is important to have the interior of an aircraft cleaned and sanitized properly prior to every flight. With the uncertainty of how the current pandemic is shaping the world, it is important to keep customers traveling via private jet healthy and to provide safe travel environments so they may get to their destinations worry free.
As a company focusing on the thorough cleaning of aircraft, and serving clients like Keystone Aviation, Detail Aircraft Cleaning has invested a lot of money into sanitizing and disinfecting products, equipment, specialty tools and new techniques to provide the best possible environment for safe flying. These products include sanitizing wipes, sprays and even a new portable mister machine.
The process begins with a post flight aircraft cleaning with enhanced sanitization measures more intensive than most other detail companies providing services. The ”Standard” sanitization technique is applied to interior aircraft surfaces more commonly requiring quick-turn servicing, or for aircraft used to fly the same persons regularly. The “Premium” service requires more time allowing for a deep sanitization and disinfection of the aircraft using a portable fogger/mister machine to apply the disinfectant over the interior surfaces.
Passengers and flight crews spend a lot of time in the aircraft they own, charter, or operate to travel for business to meetings, take family and friends for vacation and generally get to important, sometimes out-of-the-way and hard to reach destinations. An aircraft is a valuable investment. Detail cleaning allows it to function in a safe and healthy manner protecting those that travel inside while protecting the plane itself.
At Detail Aircraft Cleaning LLC, we know the details matter, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our customers and their business. From small, single-seat aircraft, to aircraft as large as the Boeing 737 and 757, we have aircraft sanitization programs tailored to each aircraft. Working with companies like Keystone Aviation we are able to deliver on our promise to keep private flying safe, healthy and beautiful.
The Traveler’s Guide to Empty Leg Flights
If you are looking for a way to save on a private jet charter, then you should consider Empty Leg flights.
WHAT IS AN EMPTY LEG FLIGHT?
Air charter operators usually fly customers round-trip. However, there are instances when a client doesn’t need to use both legs of the round-trip charter flight. These one-way scenarios create a situation where one leg of the original client’s flight is empty.
Charter companies often make these one-way empty flights available for other clients at a discounted price, resulting in a win-win situation for both the air charter companies and would-be clients.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE WITH AN EMPTY LEG FLIGHT?
Things to note: You must be flexible with your flight schedule to fully benefit from an available Empty Leg. Because Empty Leg flights originate through another customer, if the original customer changes or cancels their flight, your empty leg will also be changed or even cancelled. Be aware, while air charter operators will generally give refunds for a cancelled flight, they usually do not offer a replacement flight in cases when the original flight is cancelled or changed.
Availability of Empty Leg flights varies considerably. It may be easier to find one if you are flying to a popular destination. Customers who fly to a destination frequently for either business or pleasure may also benefit because the routine nature of the travel may create the flexibility to take advantage of the savings. Also, air charter peak times, such as the holidays, may mean more availability of Empty Leg deals.
HOW DO I FIND AVAILABLE EMPTY LEG FLIGHTS?
Many air charter operators will post available Empty Legs on their websites.
For example, you can visit the Keystone Aviation website regularly to monitor available Empty Legs in hopes of finding one that fits your schedule. To keep customers informed when Empty Legs become available, Keystone Aviation sends direct email alerts. You can let us know you are interested by signing up to receive Empty Legs email notifications.
Empty leg flights are an efficient way to save on air charter expenses. If you cannot be flexible with your dates or times, then you may be better off booking a traditional private air charter flight instead. Visit the Keystone Aviation website to learn more about chartering from our fleet. However, with flexibility comes real savings for a fantastic private aviation experience.
Questions? Call 888-900-6070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keystone Aviation Explains How To Identify A Reputable Air Charter Provider
Convenience, safety and productivity are important, so you’ve decided to charter a private aircraft. Your online search has identified a few different charter operators and brokers, but not all are created equally. Here are five questions to ask so you can identify a reputable private air charter provider.
NOTE: Amid the current COVID-19 situation, make sure to check with air charter operators on their cleaning standards and how they mitigate operational risks. Keystone Aviation has implemented rigorous safety protocols to keep customers and associates safe. Click here to view the Keystone Aviation COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
1. ARE YOU AN AIRCRAFT OPERATOR OR A BROKER?
This is an important but often confusing distinction. The aircraft operator flies the charter flight. A broker often acts as a middleman between the consumer and the operator. Brokers can assist with the selection of an aircraft operator for your flight, but they usually charge a markup on the operator’s invoice in exchange for this service. The confusion lies in brokers who appear to be operators, especially in their advertisements. It’s important to know who you are dealing with when booking a flight, so ask the question. And if they won’t give you a clear answer, call someone else.
2. WHAT IS THE FAA AIR CARRIER CERTIFICATE NAME & NUMBER?
Ask to see the operator’s air carrier certificate, which will include the operator’s name and certificate number. Also ask for verification that the aircraft you will be flying on is listed on that certificate. Making sure your aircraft operator is a legal, FAA-certificated operator is an important safety and insurance consideration, so be sure your operator has an Air Carrier Certificate. Learn about illegal charter from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).
3. WHAT ARE THE INSURANCE LIMITS FOR THE AIRCRAFT TO BE CHARTERED
According to the Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Hope Aviation Insurance has indicated that “many prospective jet charter clients look for a minimum limit of $50 million ($50,000,000.00) combined single limit, bodily injury to passengers and property damage liability.” Depending on the number of passengers, the aircraft size, etc., insurance needs may change. Contact your insurance broker to discuss the details of insuring aircraft charters and your specific insurance needs.
4. WHAT IS THE CREWMEMBER EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
Pilots for a legal charter operator must have at least 1,200 hours of total flight time. You should know the total flight hours of the crew and, perhaps more importantly, how many hours each crewmember has in the make/model of the aircraft to be chartered. Industry auditors have recommendations about experience levels to look for with an aircraft crew. In addition, it’s helpful to know crew experience when comparing one operator to another.
5. IS THE OPERATOR INDEPENDENTLY AUDITED?
Ask about the audit history and ratings for the operator. Independent auditors typically review the operator’s standards, procedures and training. This type of independent verification is useful in identifying quality operators and in comparing operators to each other. Some of the most widely used independent auditors are:
The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) Industry Audit Standard is a revolutionary audit program that provides a comprehensive, independent review of an operator’s adherence to safety and security regulations. The ACSF Industry Audit Standard is the only audit that specifically evaluates compliance with Federal Aviation Administration Part 135 (and/or 91 Subpart K) regulations. A company that successfully completes the Industry Audit Standard gains a listing on the ACSF Industry Audit Standard Operator Registry.
ARG/US (Aviation Research Group/US) rates air charter providers as follows: DNQ (Does Not Qualify), Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum. According to their website, “this rate-based scoring method is designed to provide a general peer to peer comparison of the relative safety histories of like-sized operators based on available data.”
Wyvern publishes the Pilot and Aircraft Safety Survey (PASS) report on request that indicates whether the operator, aircraft and crew for your flight meet either an industry safety standard or meet The Wyvern Standard. Operators who pass become Wyvern recommended and are listed on the Wyvern website directory.
The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) is a code of best practices designed to provide an international benchmark for safety and efficiency in business aircraft operations. Certificates of Registration from the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) are issued to flight departments that have completed a third-party industry audit by an IBAC Accredited Auditor.
There are many other factors to consider when booking a charter flight. Additional resources include:
Check with air charter operators on their cleaning standards and how they mitigate operational risks, especially amid the recent COVID-19 situation. Keystone Aviation has implemented the rigorous procedures to keep customers and associates safe while continuing to provide regular operations. Click here to view the Keystone Aviation COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
NBAA published an Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide with further questions to ask pertaining to your flight.
Private aircraft charter is a fabulous choice for a variety of travel needs. If you have questions or to schedule a charter flight with Keystone Aviation, call us at 888-900-6070 or email email@example.com.
Pandemic Prompts Big Changes for Business Aviation
May 13, 2020, 4:25 PM
This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The aviation world has changed considerably as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing business aircraft operators and flight departments to question common practices and what were, until just a few months ago, considered certainties in the industry.
Decreasing passenger loads and varying regulatory demands have contributed to a worldwide decline in flights in all aviation sectors, but for those business aviation operators still flying or about to resume operations, “there is no such thing as a routine trip anymore,” said Adam Hartley, manager of global regulatory services with Universal Weather and Aviation. “If you are an operation that would normally require a permit, those requirements have certainly changed, with a lot more information requested about travel history and health declarations, and I don’t think those things are going to be going away anytime soon.”
Hartley suggests that flight department operators begin capturing 14-day crew and passenger history for everyone expected to participate in a flight. “That’s not something that has been a common- or even uncommon-type request or practice, but certainly something that is a best practice now, so it’s not just where did everybody travel on the airplane, but even in their personal travels.”
That extends to charter flights as well, according to Daniel Govatos, director of operations for charter provider Keystone Aviation. “We ordinarily would not be asking people details about their past travel and details about their health," he said. "But bringing to their attention that we sincerely want to protect both them and our crews, it has gone over very well. I believe that people are understanding a lot more, that they will need to be as honest with us as possible.”
Flight operations have begun instituting other safety measures. Some require temperature screenings before passengers and crew are allowed to board the aircraft, although questions such as what temperature threshold should be used to disqualify people remain, like most recent sanitary advice, up to individual company discretion. Given the fact that some infected people can remain fever-free or have just a low-grade increase in temperature, that screening is far from a foolproof indicator.
“These are unsettling times, and with that comes new procedures for both crew and passengers,” said Kimberly Mazzeo, chief flight attendant for an international flight department. “Some of these may seem somewhat of an invasion of privacy to our passengers, and we need to be sensitive to that.” She recommends taking temperatures in a more secluded location and other current practices such as mandating the crew to wear masks and gloves and reducing their interaction in the cabin. It is also a good idea to equip each aircraft with a sanitization kit, provide personal protective equipment to passengers and instruct them on its use as well as proper disposal, limit the seating capacity on the aircraft to provide some personal separation, and pair crew members and maintenance teams to minimize contact and possible transmission as well as simplify contact tracking in case of infection.
According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20009, after each cockpit crew change, it is recommended to clean and disinfect surfaces in the flight deck that are frequently touched and utilized by cockpit crew members, such as yoke, throttles, autopilots, and radios, and to use products that are effective against Covid-19, compatible with aircraft, and approved by the aircraft manufacturer for use onboard the aircraft.
Last month NetJets announced it would provide antibody testing to all of its employees, dispatching a quartet of its Global 6000s to Shanghai to pick up a half a million Covid-19 antibody tests approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We are committed to testing 100 percent of our crew members initially and offering ongoing testing to anyone who travels to high-risk locations, has been exposed to Covid-19, or becomes symptomatic,” said Patrick Gallagher, the operator’s president of sales, marketing, and service.
As well there has been a proliferation of companies offering aircraft and facility disinfection services using a variety of methods.
A NEW WORLD
As operators slowly resume international flights, new potential problems need to be considered, according to Charlie LeBlanc, v-p of United Healthcare Global’s medical assistance and security division, and a member of NBAA’s security council. Speaking during a recent NBAA webinar on aviation security issues in the Covid-19 era, he noted that countries have developed varying responses to the pandemic. “One of the biggest concerns that I see as we open up the world again and start traveling globally is countries now have figured out that flipping a switch and closing their borders is a relatively simple act.”
He pointed to several recent examples during the crisis, where countries ordered their borders and airspace sealed after outbreaks, in some cases giving as little as six hours notice. He added that understanding that past behavior is now an important factor in mission planning. “If a country has shown that they close their airspace down with very little notice, it becomes even more imperative that crews and passengers are at the ready to leave in a very quick amount of time,” he said.
Going forward, international flight crews might encounter a “clean corridor” system comprising a clean crew, clean aircraft, and clean airports and hotels,” Dr. Paulo Avles, MedAire’s global director of aviation health told AIN. “China, for example, is already publishing guidelines on that regard creating procedures to be followed for crews arriving in that country. They are designating specific hotels around the airports to be utilized by crews in layover and requiring the need for testing for virus for those subsequently connecting domestically.” He is hopeful that a vaccine will be developed along with the establishment of a ‘health passport’ to allow for the free movement of passengers and crews.
Even for domestic flights, things can change rapidly from state to state, according to Universal’s Hartley, and accurate, timely information from the destination is key from the flight planning perspective. “Start the process earlier, forget what you knew for sure about locations, and take them on a case-by-case way right now until we can start to build back to a level of consistency,” he said. He advises operators to get that vital information, including any current local health regulations, from someone with a “boots-on-the-ground” view such as the destination FBO. He warned that familiar hotels, rental cars, or restaurants could be in short supply. “The availability of those things is something that shouldn’t be counted on today or thinking that all those services are going to be open and available without extra confirmation ahead of time."
During this period, to avoid being caught in local restrictions, Universal advises that crews leave the destination airport only if necessary, and many companies are advising their crews to pack food from home. Indeed, to protect their health, the U.S. DoT SAFO 20009 advises air carrier crews to stay at home or in their hotel rooms (as applicable) to the extent possible, eat in their hotel room during layovers with either room service or delivery service, or if in-room food delivery options are not available, get take-out from hotel restaurant or another restaurant nearby. Several industry caterers are now offering to deliver meals to destination airports for crews to take to their hotels for consumption.
For flights requiring catering, ordering from a local restaurant may now be questionable, as they might not operate to the same standards of hygiene practiced by dedicated in-flight kitchens, which have further stepped up their sanitary regimens from what were already stringent standards.
In an effort to avoid the need for overnights, some flight departments have changed their schedules, requesting their employees depart earlier in the day to accomplish their missions so the aircraft can return to home base. Failing that, they will relocate the aircraft and crew to areas of less infection.
ON THE GROUND
NATA issued a document containing guidance for FBOs and ground handlers in late March including advice that disinfectant/antiseptic solutions should be applied hourly to high-risk, high-traffic areas and items. “FBOs are a funnel point between the outside world and the flight line,” said LeBlanc, noting some flight departments have begun to inquire what sanitary measures service providers are undertaking, before engaging their services. Other measures imposed at some locations include segregating customers by flight within the terminal and even requesting customers to stagger departure times to minimize contact between waiting groups.
As for ordering ground transportation, “ask them a simple question, what are your cleaning guidelines for your vehicles?” said LeBlanc. “If there is a lot of pausing and hesitation, that probably means they’re not doing much and probably making it up as they as they go along,” he told the webinar audience. “We’ve talked a lot about protecting our passengers and crews [but] all that goes out the window if we put them in a vehicle that has not been properly cleaned, at least to the best of expectations. Some companies such as Keystone Aviation have attempted to avoid chauffeur-driven or rideshare situations entirely, according to Govatos, who said his company has been relying more on rental cars, even for passengers.
Greg Kulis, a member of NBAA’s security council as well as a lead captain and security coordinator for an international flight department, said that when weighing the level of safety precautions companies are taking during this time, versus the possible inconvenience and alarm to customers and passengers who many already be anxious, "We’re here to provide the safest, most effective transportation in the world, so given that mission statement, I would much rather explain why we are taking a certain precaution, than why we are not taking a certain precaution. I think most times that will answer the question.”
LESS STAFF, INCREASED VIGILANCE
With many flight operations furloughing staff and otherwise reducing on-site presence due to work-at-home protocols, “It’s apparent that we need to evaluate our safety and security protocols to ensure the current circumstances are considered,” Kulis said during the webinar, noting that companies must reevaluate their access procedures. “It’s essential for every aircraft operator to know who is in the facility and when they are there.”
“We’re operating with reduced staffing, reduced activity, and therefore being vigilant about our surroundings, our facilities, our airport areas. You just don’t have as many eyes on what’s normal,” added Eric Moilanen, president of Premier Corporate Security and chair of NBAA’s security council during the webinar. He added that what would have been considered normal just a few months ago has been turned upside down. “If someone used to come to the front door with a hat, sunglasses, and a mask over their face, it was generally time to hit the panic button and call the police. Now we look at it as an everyday occurrence, and in fact, we are mandating it in some places.”
Another aspect of the mass layoffs the industry has endured is the potential threat arising from disgruntled employees. While companies may have human resource procedures in place for the termination of one or two employees, many are experiencing unprecedented workforce reductions during this time. Employers are not obligated to discuss why a worker has been dismissed or company financial status, but Moilanen advises more transparency at this time, particularly with people the company might bring back when conditions improve.