The independent ARGUS rating system looks at an aircraft operators actual safety history, and produces a grade for that operator. If you're a potential customer of a jet charter company or fractional operator it's well worth asking about their ARGUS rating.

ARGUS International developed this program over a decade ago, to be the most accurate and detailed third-party due diligence system for charter operators, buyers and passengers throughout the world. The ratings use a proprietary algorithm that forms the foundation of the system.

Operators that have a safety history equal to or greater than their peers are provided with an ARGUS Gold Rating, and through the addition of an on-site operational audit, can achieve the highest accreditation available through an independent, unbiased third party, an ARGUS Platinum Rating.

Who is rated?

ARGUS maintains records on more than 1,000 charter operators with over 400 ARGUS Rated charter operators and more than 5,000 aircraft as well as 21,000 professional pilots validated in their CHEQ (Charter Evaluation and Qualification) system.

The CHEQ staff manages 1.5 million records on charter operators, pilots and aircraft including in excess of 250,000 incident and accident records.

This system is able to confirm:

  • The legitimacy of a charter operator
  • The safety history of a charter operator
  • Liability insurance confirmation
  • Pilot training, experience, certifications and type ratings
  • Completion of operator performed pilot background checks

The Ratings

An operator must have an operating certificate for a minimum of one year to earn one of the series of ratings, as follows:

  • DNQ – Does Not Qualify
  • Gold Rating – In order to achieve this rating, ARGUS conducts in-depth research into a number of databases and other reputable sources. Historical information on the commercial certificate, pilots and aircraft serial numbers are compiled as well as processed and scored. It includes pilot background check, and aircraft operational control validation. This information is compared against an aggregate group with similar exposures and determines whether or not the applicant is eligible for the Gold Rating.
  • Gold Plus Rating – This rating is awarded to those operators who meet all of the above Gold Rating requirements and have also completed an ARGUS on-site safety audit, or maintain IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations) registration. It is audited against the ARGUS Platinum Standard which is a standard developed by the company in conjunction with the industry incorporating best practices, policies and procedures.
  • Platinum Rating – It is only awarded to experienced operators who meet the criteria for Gold and pass the ARGUS Platinum on-site safety audit. It requires a well-developed Safety Management System as well as a clear and workable Emergency Response Plan, effective policies and procedures and documented records for all major aspects of operations and maintenance within a flight department or charter company.
  • Platinum Elite - This is the highest level that can be achieved within the ARGUS rating system. In addition to the criteria for Platinum it includes maintenance and operations reviews performed every six months and company-wide reviews performed every two years.

Of importance to note for fractional operators: Those that hold a FAR part 91 certificate are held to the same ARGUS standard. They must first meet the ARGUS Gold requirements before undergoing an ARGUS platinum audit. If the outcome of the audit is successful, the operator will then achieve the ARGUS Platinum rating.

Number of Operators by Rating

Historically, according to 2012 industry statistics compiled by ARGUS, of 1,000 U.S. based charter operators only 52, or 5%, had achieved a Platinum rating.

In total, worldwide, ARGUS Rated Operators back in May 24, 2013 include:

  • Platinum rated: 109
  • Gold Plus: 19
  • Gold: 314

Note, the two other major ratings providers are Wyvern and IS-BAO.