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Business Aviation Safety - Executive Overview
Safety should be the first concern of anyone considering using aircraft for business transportation- and that concern should prompt continual improvement of all aspects of business aircraft operations- maintenance and training.

Whether corporately-operated under the FAA’s Federal Aviation Regulations Part 91 (or similar requirements of European or Asian authorities)- or available for charter under Part 135- business aviation today boasts an operational safety record for professionally flown business jets and turboprops comparable to that of the largest commercial airlines.

Let’s begin with the aircraft itself. Virtually every business jet in production today is certificated and built to Federal Aviation Regulation Part 25- the same standards to which commercial airliners are built and maintained. System redundancy is designed into these aircraft from the ground up- as is ease of maintenance- to help ensure operational cost effectiveness as well as safety.

Each manufacturer oversees a network of authorized maintenance centers- many factory-owned- to ensure that all work performed meets their own- as well as the government’s rigorous safety and quality standards. The manufacturers also produce and update FAA-approved manuals and parts catalogs that specify how maintenance is to be performed- and what parts from which FAA-approved and certificated suppliers can be installed.

When maintained “by the book-” business jet maintenance meets - and often exceeds - that of commercial airlines. After all- the average business jet flies less than one-third the annual hours of a commercial airliner. And that utilization level helps aircraft technicians ensure the aircraft is in optimal condition every time it departs.

Once airborne- passenger safety rests in the hands of the flight crew – for most jets- a captain and first officer. The continual evolution of aircraft navigation- communications- FAA regulations- and the world airways systems requires ever-higher levels of pilot initial and regular recurrent training.

To safely and legally fly a business jet or any aircraft with a gross take-off weight over 12-500 pounds- the FAA mandates that each pilot be “type-rated” in the specific make and model machine that they fly – and remain “current” in that aircraft. This requires each pilot to attend an initial training class specific to that aircraft type- wherein they become expert in every aspect of aircraft operations and limitations. Each pilot must then attend an annual recurrent training session (semi-annually if the pilot is flying for a charter company).

There are several excellent professional pilot training companies that provide aircraft specific training and testing- operating full motion flight simulators comparable to those found at commercial airline training centers. If this all seems incredibly complicated…well- it is.

Entering the ranks of business jet users through charter or ownership requires a depth of aviation knowledge and experience well beyond the ken of most business executives. It entails:

• Selecting the right model aircraft to satisfy your flight requirements safely and cost-effectively; or selecting the charter or fractional provider that meets those needs;
• Or purchasing an aircraft- either new or used - and if used- shepherding it through the purchase process to insure the aircraft is mechanically safe and sound;
• Hiring a flight crew that is properly trained and experienced- as well as is a good personality match with your passengers and senior management;
• On-going monitoring of the flight activity- to ensure safety- and compliance with evolving regulations and technology.

Simply put- most non-aviation executives and Board Members do not have the technical know-how to evaluate all the issues and options to safely begin using business aircraft. But they are obliged to know what questions to ask and where to find answers.

Fortunately- there are resources at your disposal. A wide network of expert professional consultants is available to assist your safe and secure entry into business aviation. They can audit and recommend a charter or jet card provider; establish and staff an independent flight operation according to the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO); or alternatively- vet and recommend a professional aircraft management company.

When it comes to business aviation safety- you need never be alone.

Gil Wolin draws on almost forty years of aviation marketing and management experience as a consultant to the corporate aviation industry. His aviation career incorporates aircraft management- charter and FBO management experience- and he is a frequent speaker at aviation- travel and service seminars. Gil currently serves on the Advisory Board for Corporate Angel Network and GE Capital Solutions-Corporate Aviation. He can be contacted at

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