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Act As If

posted Apr 17, 2011, 2:41 PM by George Finlay   [ updated Apr 17, 2011, 2:41 PM by Natalie Cauldwell ]

Let’s suppose you are involved in a business that involved frequent trips to locations less than 1000 nm apart, typically by yourself, but sometimes with up to three colleagues. Let’s also say those destinations are often closer to smaller airports that do not have scheduled service.

You might benefit by setting up an air service for your business. If you only use your airplane(s) to transport people directly involved in your business, and do not offer the service to the general public, your operation would fall under the less stringent FAR Part 91 requirements. Even so, you would be well advised to act as if it were regulated by the more stringent rules in Part 135 or 121.

To maintain a consistently high level of safety, Part 121 and 135 operations are carefully designed and managed. Professionals specify and acquire suitable aircraft, set up thorough maintenance procedures, design appropriate operational standards, and carefully train and supervise pilots..

Preliminary 2007 aviation accident data released last week by the NTSB continue to show Part 135 and 121 operations are substantially safer than Part 91..

Scheduled Part 121 operations logged a total of 18,700,000 flight hours, with 24 accidents, no fatalities. For non-scheduled Part 121, the totals were 605,000 hours with 2 accidents, one fatality..

Part 135 commuter operations logged 302,000 hours, 3 accidents, no fatalities; for on-demand Part 135, the totals were 3,668,000 hours, 62 accidents, 43 fatalities..

Part 91 operations logged 23,835,000 hours, 1631 accidents, with 486 fatalities..

When I was a kid living in Valhalla New York, my dad often had business trips to a Lily Tulip paper cup manufacturing plant in Augusta Georgia. That meant getting to La Guardia Airport (KLGA), flying to Atlanta Georgia, and then driving a rented car from there to Augusta. Westchester Airport (KHPN) is just a few miles from where we lived, and Augusta (KAGS) is a serviceable airport too..

Making money in a scheduled Part 121 air service between airport pairs like Westchester and Augusta, about 600 nm apart, would mean setting pricing as high as that small market could bear to pay for shorter travel times due to direct routes and avoidance of the major airports where delays are increasingly common. And that would mean choosing appropriate equipment for that route. Airplanes would need relatively low capacity and efficient operating characteristics. But they would also need to be to be reasonably fast and comfortable. A Gulfstream or Falcon, with fifteen available seats, might be a good choice provided the airplanes could be kept busy. Keeping them busy would probably mean expanding service to other similar nearby markets to allow equipment to be moved easily to accommodate fluctuating passenger loads..

On-demand charter service for a small group of business travelers on a route like this could use smaller equipment like a Hawker or Citation with about six seats, gaining efficiency without significant sacrifices of speed or comfort..

But companies with enough internal demand for flights to and from less popular destinations frequently find they can justify the expense of running their own aviation operations. If Lily Tulip had stayed in business, maybe they would have hired professionals to set up a good tight Part 91 aviation department following FAA guidelines from Part 135 or 121, and then guys like my dad would have had quick safe trips to places like Augusta Georgia..

Next: a look at three single-engine turboprops, the Pilatus 12, Socata TBM 850, and Piper Meridian. We will see if any of them might be suitable for hypothetical 600 nm Lily-Tulip flights from KHPN to KAGS with up to four passengers..

Contact us to find out if an internal aviation operation would make sense for your business. Email or call 917-841-2362..

2007 NTSB Aviation Accident Table