You probably have had enough about fractional programs’ aircraft management services agreements, but there are a few more aspects to explore and review. Some are minor, some non-negotiable, but all could cause you to experience unexpected costs.
If needs change relating to your ownership structure, does the agreement provide for assignability to related and unrelated parties? If it does, is it provided as part of the service or are there related fees for the assignment? If you assign your share and have excess hours, do they go with the share or are they forfeit?
What insurance limits are provided and are they high enough to cover potential exposure? Can you buy “add-on” liability coverage? If the provider’s policy premiums increase over the term of your ownership, can they pass that increase on to you, and if the provider or the insurer makes changes to your coverage, are you notified prior to the change?
Catering can be very expensive; is catering included under services provided? What type of catering - is it preset or can you order whatever is available based on your departure point? Are aircraft stocked with snacks and beverages, and is the selection and variety appropriate for the aircraft type you own? Keep in mind that due to aircraft size and galley configuration, catering can be limited to space/storage available. It is no fun to fly with a tray or bag of food in your lap.
Most fractional providers have some form of interchange within the fleet provided there is more than one type of aircraft in the fleet. Some providers allow interchanging to smaller aircraft anytime but interchanging to larger aircraft on an as-available basis. Some allow you to interchange up or down freely (provided aircraft type requested is available). When you interchange in a fractional program, the hours you fly on the larger or smaller aircraft are multiplied by a preset interchange percentage. Is this percentage equitable or almost punitive?
Due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations that apply to fractional jet programs, you may have the option to have your flights flown either in accordance with FAR Part 91 or Part 135. Operationally, you will see little impact on electing to fly under either regulation. Some feel that opting for your flights to be flown in accordance with Part 135 provides more protection from potential liability in the event of an accident.
Each fractional program sets forth the rates they charge either on a monthly or hourly basis; some even have a fee charged on an annual basis. Be familiar with how they escalate, normally on an annual basis on January 1, but sometimes they have an increase built in to take effect at a certain point in an aircraft’s lifecycle.
The last item I want to touch on is aircraft availability. Does your program guarantee you an aircraft even if they have to charter one from a third party provider? If the provider does not guarantee an aircraft, what is your recourse? If they do guarantee an aircraft for all of your trips, what do they consider a “comparable” or better aircraft to the one you own?