The basic requisites for crewing private jet aircraft are, or should be, exactly the same as for an airline transport aircraft, with pilots and other crew members holding the same professional licences and qualifications and having at least the same level of experience.
While many airlines may accept pilots with a low relative experience, preferring in many cases to develop skills and experience in line with house procedures within a large pilot team structure, the better private aircraft operations tend to favour more experienced pilots and ones able to function without a large supporting infrastructure. However, not all pilots are the same.
There are wide-ranging views as to respective ability, with arguably little difference in the ultimate skillset of carefully selected experienced aviators whatever their route to crewing a modern complex jet. Selection of an appropriately trained and qualified, skilled, mature and totally customer-oriented crew is essential.
Management companies, some better than others, take responsibility for the legal, safe, competent and cost-effective operation of private aircraft and are generally experts in the intricacies of global aircraft operations, maintenance, crewing, flight planning, dispatch and flight watch. Required maintenance is planned in advance so as not to impede an owner’s use and is conducted by a carefully selected approved maintenance organisation, supervised and verified by the management organisation to have been properly undertaken and within a controlled budget The aircraft will be kept airworthy at all times, clean, stocked, secure and ready for flight. Pilots and other crewmembers will have been carefully selected having considered not only legal and licensing matters, but also genuine skill, ability, aptitude and discretion, in addition to suitability for secure private or corporate operations. The operator must also have in place written operations and training procedures, constantly reviewed and updated not only for regulatory compliance but genuine best practice. Things to watch for are crew selection based on internal seniority rather than ability, transfer pricing and non-transparent services procurement, limitations on fleet insurance, and hidden credit notes on, for example, fuel, maintenance, spares, insurance, handling, cleaning, and other third-party charges.
Some owners elect to retain more control of their aircraft, flight personnel and purchasing, however an internal Chief Pilot must be able to manage an operation and continually monitor his or her team, procedures and supporting capability to ensure compliance, continuous best practice and high overall standards. Operations must likewise be conducted in accordance with approved manuals, a safety management system that is fit for purpose, established maintenance procedures, and an approved minimum equipment list to allow dispatch only in an acceptable condition for safe flight.
In all cases, safety and effective risk management is to be at the forefront of a flight operation and an operation, whether under external management or in-house, and can, if well-managed, result in a level of safety that equals the world’s best airlines.
We are always happy to work with owners in selecting an appropriate operator, with or without charter, and to help oversee the negotiation of a management agreement, related policies and procedures. Alternatively, where operations are managed in-house, we will provide every assistance to an in-house flight department as required in the introduction of a new aircraft.
With thorough advance planning, an aircraft’s entry-into-service may be coordinated to be a smooth turn-key experience.