New Coalition Aims To Fight Illegal Charter Flights

Credit: Gulfstream

Business aviation groups have launched a new group, the Air Charter Safety Alliance, to collectively combat illegal on-demand charter flights. 

The alliance strives to raise awareness among potential customers, charter brokers, ministries of transport and national aviation authorities related to the use of unauthorized aircraft operators for on-demand flights, officials say. 

Illegal charter operations are a growing concern. There have been cases of unauthorized aircraft operators actively avoiding aviation authority oversight, risking the safety of unwitting passengers and hurting the economic health of approved charter providers, the alliance says. 

Aircraft owners and customers must understand the significant liability connected to not meeting higher standards for proper pilot training, maintenance programs, insurance coverage and other regulations affecting Part 135 air charter operators. 

Several associations have worked independently to combat the practice, but it needs a global approach, they say. Over the next three months, the coalition plans to collect best practices from various associations, create an online platform and initiate an online educational campaign to bring attention to the dangers of illegal charters. 

It will also develop and promote safety programs to aid on-demand charter operators with a focus on safety culture, safety management systems, flight data recording and safety reporting. 

“Illegal charter goes against everything our industry works hard to deliver—it increases risk to passengers, damages the reputation of our industry and impacts careers and businesses,” said Dave Edwards, Air Charter Association CEO. “By working together with our partner associations around the world, we aim to protect the air charter community and educate passengers, pilots and aircraft owners about the serious consequences of illegal charter.”

Business aviation is the most flexible means of transportation with the highest safety standards, said Robert Baltus, European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) chief operating officer. The goal is to ensure that the traveling public can continue to trust the charter industry, he said.

The multipronged approach to consumer education and regulator and supply chain awareness will reinforce the safety of approved charter operators, said Doug Carr, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) vice president. 

Besides the Air Charter Association, EBAA and NBAA, others joining the organization include the Associacao Brasileira de Aviacao Geral (ABAG), African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA), the British Business & General Aviation Association (BBGA), the French Business Aviation Association (EBAA France), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). 

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.