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When it comes to private jets, do your research and avoid cost-cutting

Palm Beach Daily News

Crew Aviation professionals are experts in their field.

Tim Peace, chief operations officer of Crew Aviation, has a saying that, “Everybody has a guy.”

“Everybody has a guy or gal when it comes to aviation,” he says. “My dad, grandpa, sister, etc., is a pilot, owned a plane, flies with NetJets or has a 'card.’ With this unending roll-call of crowdsourced answers, you do not receive answers to any real questions about YOUR aircraft and how it can be an asset. In fact, we are often approached by new clients who inevitably say... I got a guy, ‘fill in the blank.’ I liken this to being met on a street corner by a fellow in a trench coat, who unfurls the lining and presents his wares of planes, pilots and maintenance methods and the old movie slap stick of, ‘Hey buddy, wanna buy a watch?’”

In today's world of access to information at lightning speeds, many clients are very savvy, however, there is no replacement for true experience and qualification. Calling yourself an aviation department manager just because you have six maintenance organizations on speed dial rarely works as well as having qualified staff to review and question work as it is accomplished. Many pilots are skilled and possess a wealth of knowledge, but it is impossible for one person to know all of the best information for a client. The Crew Aviation team is comprised of pilots, aerospace engineers, A & P mechanics, flight attendants, safety professionals, security professionals, schedulers and dispatchers, accounting and financial professionals, and they are experts in their field. We employ these individuals in-house and they work for our clients to insure they receive the utmost professional level of care from acquisition to acceptance and maintaining your asset throughout your ownership.

Why cutting costs in private aviation is a risk you shouldn’t take.

Financial responsibility and finding ways to save money are qualities that many CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and other individuals have in their skill set. When deciding to purchase or charter an aircraft, this often is a factor people consider. It is assumed that if a pilot or a company has been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate aircraft, they must have the best interest and safety of the client as a priority. Unfortunately, many are operating for the highest profit while sacrificing the best interest and potentially, the safety of their passengers. One way to summarize this ideology is to think of finding a doctor for brain surgery. All practicing surgeons are approved by a state medical board but are they all equal? Would you shop around for the doctor who is the least expensive or who used the cheapest staff of nurses and anesthesiologists to assist them in the operating room? Most people who need a professional service seek out the best in their field, with the highest levels of achievement and training. You should look for the same when it comes to who you rely on to operate or manage your private aircraft or aviation department.

When the sales price is too good to be true.

Crew Aviation is a boutique company that specializes in aircraft acquisitions and management. One of the hardest conversations to have with a new aircraft owner is the plane they purchased will need a major investment before it can fly. Max Weidekamp, director of business development for Crew Aviation says he receives calls from clients who have found a plane on a website or through a personal contact and they are convinced that it is a great purchase decision. There are many items to consider when evaluating the asking price of an aircraft and the value of the asset. If the asking price seems like a bargain, chances are you will need to spend money on maintenance, inspections, interior components, upgrades to avionics, cabin management or Wi-fi systems, along with any number of other expenses.

Many individuals trust brokers or pilots who may be knowledgeable in a specific type of aircraft but may not have all of the information and details needed to make a solid investment in purchasing the plane you need. Crew Aviation has a team of aviation professionals with decades of experience in the industry along with a diverse staff of young professionals who bring continued new information and the latest on technically advanced aircraft to the company. These professionals work together to deliver the absolute best solutions and products — aircrafts that fit the need and financial profile of their clients, whether charter customers or aircraft owners.

Find professionals who work together to deliver the absolute best solutions and products.

Is your private aircraft a victim of piecemeal management?

Many individuals with or without aviation experience will try and sell you on the idea of hiring them to manage your aircraft while they employ individual, outside companies to do the work. The day-to-day management of your asset is completed in separate stages rather than being planned and looked at carefully by individuals you know and trust. The thought is, you can save money by not employing a full-time staff or a full-service company. It is the concept of hiring one person who will seek out insurance, maintenance, scheduling, FAA compliance and record keeping, safety, security, customs and permits, cleaning, stocking and supplying, keeping accurate accounting and bookkeeping, finding appropriate hangar space, equipment purchasing, and oversee training and hiring pilots to fly you, your family or business associates in national and international airspace. Crew Aviation is a full-service aircraft management and acquisitions company. We have long standing relationships with vendors, suppliers and manufacturers in the aviation industry to ensure our clients get the best services and the best discounts but at the end of the day, all of our employees are working for you, the client.

Many of these piecemeal managed aircraft departments only hire pilots by the day or by the trip. These pilots work as contract employees and pay for their own training costs, insurance and any benefits that would normally be paid by an employer. There are many excellent pilots who fly contract and are not employed directly, however, they are responsible for their own record keeping, duty time limitations, schedules and where they are trained. It is also common to fly with a single pilot when the aircraft is rated as such, to save the cost of having a second pilot.

In a Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 91 owner/operated aircraft, contract pilots need only to be qualified and trained in the aircraft being flown. Recurrent training happens once per year. In a FAR Part 135 charter aircraft, the pilot must go through a check ride and be observed by the FAA twice per year and be trained under the companies approved training program. Few contract pilots go through this process for a charter company so make sure you ask that question before you fly. When reviewing aircraft accidents occurring in business aircraft, the main cause of many tragedies is a lack of crew resource management or human factors including fatigue, unfamiliarity with the aircraft equipment, or poor decision-making skills. The safest operation of an aircraft is with two pilots who are employed and trained by the company under the skilled watch of both a Chief Pilot and a Director of Operations who are approved by the FAA. Crew Aviation is under the watchful eye of our Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, Director of Training, Director of Standards, Check Airman and Director of Maintenance. All post holder positions are approved by the FAA for our operation.

Are you flying on an illegal charter flight?

When booking a charter flight, look at the safety record of the company, insurance limits, third-party safety auditing certifications, and whether the company is legal to fly as a FAA Part 135 company. There are several other ways to fly privately including short term leasing and private membership clubs but your air carrier must be compliant with the FAA to conduct flights for pay. Crew Aviation is an FAA Certified Part 135 Air Carrier with the highest available insurance limits, one of only four companies in the U.S. to have the highest safety certifications through Wyvern LTD and is one of only a few to earn IS-BAO PS3 status, a progressive level of international best practices sanctioned by ICAO and 19 other worldwide aviation organizations, and Crew has an accident and incident free safety record. Our aircrafts are maintained by professional in-house maintenance technicians trained to OEM standards, specifically on the type of aircraft in our fleet.

Crew Aviation is passionate about protecting their client's best interests and developing a working relationship.

Borrowing someone’s aircraft is not the same as borrowing their yacht for the weekend. Without the proper paperwork and compliance in place, you are risking not only steep fines but also financial liability. Insurance companies cover legal flights for Part 135 air carriers. If you are flying on an illegal charter aircraft and are involved in an incident or accident, you are not covered and could be found financially liable as well. Getting a cheap flight on an illegal charter is not a risk worth taking.