Jet Advisors Blog

Combining Private Jet Travel with Commercial Airline Travel

Posted on Mon, Apr 28,2014

Plane over mountainsYou are looking forward to that special ski trip, or summer hiking trip, to Aspen from your home in New York City (NYC) with the family and you do not want to waste time or money getting there, what do you do? You have several options, but not all of them really make sense for your trip. Driving is probably the least expensive, but do you want to use up four days of your time off getting there and returning home not to mention the hassle of the drive through the mountains of Colorado and potential for poor driving conditions (at least in the winter). So flying is the only sensible option.

While flying is the most efficient and quickest way to get to Aspen and then back home to NYC there are no direct flights to Aspen from NYC, or for the return. While this may not be a surprise with today’s commercial air travel system, this trip will involve at least one stop and in many cases two stops (one airline stops at Washington Dulles and again in Denver), probable aircraft changes and 10+ hours of travel time. With the plane changes required, and the possibility of lost luggage, why not consider private jet/charter as an option? Flying by private jet will cut your travel time in about half, but few aircraft can make the NYC to Aspen leg non-stop which defeats part of the reason to consider private jets for this trip and can be expensive. There are some private jet aircraft that can perform the trip non-stop, but they are few and far between and can become exponentially more expensive.  In addition, you must make sure the provider is aware of your passenger load and any baggage that you are bringing since this will impact the performance (range and take-off and landing field length needed) of the supplied aircraft.

So what can you do to cut your travel time in the most cost effective and efficient way? My thought is to mix charter flying with commercial flying. Fly commercially to an airport that is relatively close to Aspen and then fly a private jet, or even a turboprop aircraft (if your commercial flight’s destination is close enough to Aspen to offset the slower aircraft speed of the turboprop). This scenario will be more expensive than the commercial trip all the way to Aspen, but you will save time and the potential hassles of an additional stop(s), plane change(s) and lost luggage (which we know happens frequently these days).  

Another thought would be in the case that another couple or family members are traveling to Aspen from some other location than NYC. Both groups could fly commercially to an airport that provides non-stop service from their point of origin and then fly together privately into Aspen. This would defray the cost for both groups for the trip. 

Topics: charter, charter flights, airports, commercial

Quelling Nervous Flying

Posted on Thu, Mar 27,2014


Safe LandingIt matters if you fly commercially, or privately, if you are a nervous, or fearful flyer, to some extent. Most flyers (if you are not a pilot or the pilot for the flight) have some misgivings each time they fly, but some of us just resign ourslves to the fact that you need to fly and have little control over the many factors that could impact the flight.

Some factors that cause concern regardless of flying commercially, or privately, are obvious like the weather, over water flights, mountainous terrain, airports in the mountains and small airports (usually short narrow landing strips). Some are not so obvious but due to past accidents and the subsequent news reports still cause some concern. Some not so obvious concerns include security, aircraft maintenance condition, pilot complacency (dependence on automation versus pilot skills), pilot training and experience and pilot fatigue.

Outside influences such as hijacking, terrorist activities and the growing incidents of lasers pointed at cockpits are also thought about prior to flight by some. In private aviation hijacking and terrorist activities are unlikely but the threat from laser light (accidental or on purpose) is growing in the US and in Europe. After 9/11 and other previous horrible events (Lockerbie Scotland) commercial travelers were on edge and the recent “disappearance” of the Malaysian airliner has done little to quell those fears.

So how do you overcome your fears and what can you do? If you fly commercially there is little you can do to change a flight plan, the point of origin of the flight and the destination, checking the experience and training of the crews or the quality of the aircraft maintenance. These are all controlled by the airline. US airlines have a very enviable safety history; however you are still at their mercy when it comes to security check in, crowded aircraft and the unavoidable delays and cancellations. If you fly privately, either on your own aircraft, through a fractional program or by charter, it is a different story.

If you own or co-own the aircraft then you have firsthand knowledge of the crews experience and training and the maintenance status of the aircraft.  In addition, you pick departure and arrival location, times for the flight, who you fly with and most importantly you have the ability to terminate or not start a flight if there are any factors that bother you. If you participate in a fractional program you have the comfort factor (if your provider is one of the larger ones) that pilots are highly skilled and routinely trained, the aircraft is maintained as it should be (with a large staff overseeing such maintenance) and you have the ability to cancel or terminate the flight if you have a weather or other concern, however, you might get charged for the cancelled flight. With most charter operators they can provide you with their past histories and audit reports from independent aviation professionals and, as with fractional programs, you have the ability to cancel or delay flights for any reason but once again you may be charged for any itinerary changes or cancelations.

So what should you do? Do your homework on the method of air transportation you use and if using commercial stay vigilant. If you have your own aircraft make sure your crew knows your preferences and if you fly fractional or charter these companies usually build a profile on your likes and dislikes, make sure the profile is accurate.

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Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, jet card, charter, jet lease, private jets, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, jet co-owner, private jet co-owner, fractional light jets, airports, fractional consulting, Nervous Flying, Malaysia

Danger in the Skies, Laser Pointers

Posted on Tue, Mar 11,2014

Plane at SunsetLaser pointers have been commercially available since the 1980s and are seen everywhere from boardrooms, classrooms, in tools, cat and dog toys and even in gas stations as novelties. So why would the FBI offer a $10,000 reward to anyone that helps them to apprehend and convict someone pointing one of these seemingly harmless devices at an aircraft?

Most laser pointers available to the public are pretty harmless if used as they are intended to be and care is made not to shine them in someone’s eyes from close up. However, the danger to aircraft operations comes from the strong concentrated light they emit, the spread of this light at distances and the potential to distract, startle, cause flash blindness and the concern of injury (but at distances the risk of injury is low, at least from the laser beam). Currently there are no commercially available lasers that can physically damage an aircraft and it is unknown and doubtful that there are military lasers that could.

When using a laser outside at night it appears the beam ends at a relatively short distance from the user but that is incorrect and the beam spreads at longer distance like an ordinary flash light. At one half of a mile the beam from a handheld laser spreads to approximately the size of a doorway. When the beam spreads it has the potential to reflect from aircraft windscreens similar to when you are driving at night and an oncoming car does not dim their lights. Aircraft cockpits are kept in low light and the brightness of a laser beam can temporarily blind the crew, not a good thing when flying straight and level but extremely dangerous during the takeoff or landing phase of flight.

Lasers used in laser shows are 6 watts and green in color (green is the preferred color since that color can be seen more easily by the human eye than other colors and are less expensive to manufacture). Even though the light spreads at distances a laser show style laser can reach over 368,000 feet (70 miles) and at that distance the main danger is distraction. At lesser distances the dangers increase, eye hazard at 1,700 feet, flash blindness at 8,700 feet (1.5 miles) and glare at 36,800 feet (7 miles).

Commercial hand held lasers are usually about 5 mW and green in color but even at this lower wattage eye hazard could occur at 52 feet, flash blindness up to 262 feet, glare up to 1,171 feet and distraction up to 11,712 feet.

As mentioned above, this issue is being taken seriously as incidents continue to increase. In 2013 there were 3,960 (average 11 per day) reported instances in the US (up from 1,416 in 2009) and over 4,266 (average 12 per day) in Europe. If you are caught and convicted you could face fines and possibly jail time. A man in California was sentenced to 30 months in jail for pointing a laser at an aircraft and just last week another California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a laser at a police helicopter. The second man’s girlfriend was also involved in the incident and is facing a $250,000 fine and 5 years in prision.

 

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Topics: fractional, jet card, charter, jet lease, private jet, private jets, airports, laser pointers

Private Jet Travel, Where do you Fly?

Posted on Thu, Feb 27,2014


Plane preparing for passengersOf the many benefits of private jet travel (setting your own schedule, choosing your fellow passengers, traveling with pets, selecting your desired departure location and arrival location, amongst others) one of the most critical ones to consider is your departure and/or arrival airport.

There are usually many options when it comes to airport selection, unless you are in a remote area of the United States or in areas that prevent exclude airport construction such as mountainous areas. While you may be traveling to or from an area with many options are they really viable options (meaning, are they safe and reasonable for your planned trip)?

Determining if an airport is safe may seem to be easily determined but there are many factors to consider. These factors include but are not limited to: runway length, runway width, the weight bearing capacity of the runway, runway condition (is it paved, gravel, dirt or grass and well maintained), altitude of the airport (the higher the altitude the greater the impact on the aircraft’s performance), obstructions around or close to the airport, weather conditions (unpredictable winds, down drafts, snow, ice and their impact on visibility), is it controlled or not (meaning are there onsite personnel to advise field condition, winds and to perform air traffic control) and are there any airport facilities such as a fixed base operator (FBO) for fuel and other services. In addition to the condition and location of the airport you have to consider the operational performance (or lack thereof) of your aircraft or your selected aircraft and the capabilities of the aircraft crew.

One example of a potentially challenging airport is the recent accident at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in Colorado. This airport handles hundreds if not thousands of flights safely on an annual basis but presents a challenge for those flying into and out of there. The airport is located at a high altitude, has numerous obstructions, requires a steep approach and steep departure and crews are required to be certified for its use prior to flying there. There are others such as Yeager Airport in Charleston West Virginia, while it is controlled have large well maintained runways and good FBOs it was built on a mountain top with a cliff at either end of the runway, a small mistake could be catastrophic.

Even airports that meet all of the safety requirements might not be a good choice for your travel plans. If you use one of the large international airports, you can get stuck in the traffic when departing or arriving and they normally charge much higher fees for usage. Also some of the large international airports are not structured to accommodate the private flyer, so once on the ground or positioning for takeoff, you may have to taxi long distances to or from the FBO.

So when choosing an airport to use, safety should be the number one consideration, but you fly privately for convenience and efficiency and these have to also be factored into your decision process.

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional light jets, airports, fractional travel, fractional consulting