With the well documented issues in commercial flying more and more people have found reasons to turn to private aircraft.
There are a variety of options to consider. The starting point is how often you want to fly privately.
Once you reach about 50 hours of flying a year then fractional aircraft ownership can start to make sense and above 300 or so hours per year whole ownership is worth looking into. Here is some core information to help you understand the options.
All of the major providers have expanded over the last few years. Many now offer a wide range of products and solutions to meet the needs of various clients. If you're looking at the different options and would like a good general overview then download our free Guide to Private Aviation, which includes details on charter, jet cards and fractional ownership. For detailed side by side comparisons of the leading jet card and fractional providers, and a directory of charter operators, then sign up for membership.
The latest news and research on private jets and aircraft is included below.
AvantAir was recently taken public through a takeover by a publicly listed (shell) acquisition company - Ardent Acquisition Corp. This makes it the only pure play fractional aircraft company that is publicly traded.
As very light jets start to become more widespread, we came across two that have their own very unique characteristics. One of them has been around for almost 50 years, the other one is due for first deliveries in 2008. Both of them have military and civilian guises.
If emerging trends in the aviation industry are anything to go by, then the private flying sector will witness a growth in the next twenty years that is 10 times any the industry has observed in the last 50 years. Very light jets (VLJs) are raring to go and will have an impact on all aspects of private flying from full ownership, to fractional jets, charter, jet cards and the nascent air-taxi business. The rollout is already underway with the delivery of the first very light jet into a fractional program at Jet-Alliance.
Making a cost effective and educated choice is all important when traveling by private aircraft. The right choice, based on your needs including your typical travel patterns and budget, takes a little research to fully understand the options. We'll cover each of the private flying options in outline form here, with links to more information.
A closed fleet or fractional jet card is a popular method of experiencing the benefits of private aviation. You get to fly on some of the latest, well maintained, consistent aircraft, without having to commit to the large investment or length of time that fractional ownership or whole aircraft ownership requires. Jet cards give members access to prepaid blocks of flying time hours, with 25 hours being by far the most common size.
Several companies offer "open fleet" or jet charter cards. These companies may either have their own aircraft fleets that they manage and/or may charter aircraft on the open market to meet the flying needs of their members. An "open fleet" jet card provider usually does not own any aircraft. They use aircraft from other charter operators, and/or from aircraft in a fleet that they may manage but do not own. Hence the "open fleet", it's potentially open to any available aircraft.
The latest statistics from the Department of Transportation show an increasing number of bags being lost by the commercial airlines. In addition only about 75% of commercial flights arrive on time. With these statistics it may now be the time to start looking into flying privately.
Yesterday Jet-Alliance reported that it had received delivery of the the first Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). The company is offering fractional ownership for about $100,000 for a 1/16th share (50 hours of flying) and has orders for several more of the planes to build up it's fleet.
When Raytheon recently announced the sale of its aircraft business unit - manufacturer of Hawker and Beechcraft planes - it also made it clear that its fractional ownership business Flight Options, LLC was not part of the sale.
PlaneSense currently has 25 Pilatus PC-12s in it's fractional aircraft program and according to the New Hampshire Union Leader will increase this to 37 aircraft over the next year. This puts it in the top 6 fractional aircraft programs in the US.