Published September 2021
Illegal private jet charters have long been a problematic undercurrent in the world of private aviation. With the Covid 19 pandemic driving up demand the safety and privacy of personal travel, a new wave of providers have been attempting to participate in the surge of new business. The problem?
Not all of those providers are legally certified to service commercial private aviation clients.
Here, we’ll walk you through the dangers associated with illegal private jet charters as well as how to identify them in your research process.
What is an Illegal Private Jet Charter?
Despite the black-and-white sounding nature of the phrase “illegal private jet charter”, many clients with flying illegal charter operations don’t actually know that they are. The line between illegal and legal charters is clear - at least to those who know what to look for.
So what defines a legal charter operation? The key distinguishing factor is the FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) Part 135 Certification, and despite the vanilla sounding industry name, its impact is substantial in the kind of operation servicing the flight.
A FAR Part 135 Certification sets and enforces the requirements for the safety of the equipment, personnel, and procedures required for trustworthy commercial charters. An illegal private jet charter is any commercial (non-personal use) charter provider or flight that does not operate under a Part 135 Certification.
Here are a few examples of non-Part 135 charters that are not illegal:
Otherwise, if any compensation is given in exchange for the chartered flight, a Part 135 operation is required. To enforce this standard, the FAA has a track record of levying fines against operators found violating the standards.
A recent example was the Hinman Company who received a $3.3 million civil suit for hundreds of flights that did not meet Part 135 standards. Their law suit was especially challenging because not only did they not hold a Part 135 Certificate for failing to maintain training and reporting standards, but their subsidiaries were also operating in violation, making it more difficult for clients to verify individual operating procedures and certifications.
Why Should I Be Concerned About Illegal Jet Charters?
Now to a more important question: why should you care about whether or not your charter provider is Part 135 Certified? After all, most illegal charters are operated under a Part 91 Certification for personal use - shouldn’t that be safe enough?
To answer the implicit question first - yes Part 91 operators are generally safe. The difference is that there is a higher (and necessary) level of accountability that providers need to have to serve clients commercially. We’ll go through some of the most significant differences in a moment.
First though, it’s important to answer the question, “Why would a company offer illegal charters in the first place?” Almost always, it’s a matter of profit margins.
The procedures and practices needed to maintain a Part 135 Certification are expensive and rigid. Operators generally spend millions each year maintaining their safety practices up to the high Part 135 Certification. Companies that offer illegal charter services tend to feel comfortable enough in their safety measures and are looking for opportunities to maximize the cash in their pockets.
As a principle, companies that prioritize profits over safety and are willing to cut legal corners to do so don’t earn the trust of their clients. It’s why so many illegal charter flights are operated without their passengers knowing - it’s unlikely an illegal charter provider would tell you as much.
And while the majority of these flights are conducted safely due to strong industry standards at the personal level, illegal charters and their operators come with heightened risk, a stark contrast to the safety that draws private clients in the first place.
How to Identify and Avoid Illegal Charter Operations
Identifying an illegal charter provider is easier than you might think IF you know the right question to ask. While abnormally low prices are suspicious due to the cost-cutting nature of most illegal charter practices, not all illegal operations are suspiciously cheap.
The RIGHT question to ask is a simple, “Are they Part 135 certified?” To make this question easier to answer, here is a list of all Part 135 Certified operators where you can search for the provider you are considering.
If they’re not Part 135 Certified, it is in your best interest to select a different operator. Not only are their safety standards higher, but their commitment to your overall safety is as well.
Click here for a full, searchable list of Certified Part 135 providers.
Choosing Your Private Charter Provider
A Part 135 Certification is a necessary attribute of any commercial charter flight you book, but what else are you looking for?
It goes without saying that a total commitment to your safety is non-negotiable, but it’s the top providers that separate themselves beyond safety. They excel in comfort, convenience, and courtesy.
Dumont JETS stands out in the Part 135 community for it’s rare combination of cost-efficient flight options that don’t sacrifice any luxury or on-demand service. With a rapidly growing fleet built on the highly popular Dassault Falcon 2000 and industry-leading Gulfstreams, aviation excellence is always just a phone call away.
Connect with one of our private aviation consultants today to see how Dumont’s trip planning, concierge service, and luxury-minded excellence puts you in a class of your own.