Jet Advisors Blog

Why Buy or Lease a Fractional Share?

Posted on Thu, Sep 11,2014

Comfortable flyingIf you fly privately there are many options to choose from, ranging from ones with little commitment (meaning relatively low cost and no long term contract) to ones with greater commitment (meaning higher cost and long term contract or ownership).

Charter is great for the occasional flyer but are you paying only for the time you are on the aircraft. In most cases the answer is no unless you get on the aircraft at its home base to fly to your destination and return in a relatively short time, usually 24 hours. If your trip starts anyplace other than the aircraft home base your charge will include positioning the aircraft to pick you up, flying you to your destination and then repositioning the aircraft back to its base. Another thing about charter is the supply of aircraft is mostly random, you make your request by asking for a class of aircraft (light, medium, super medium or large) not by the type of aircraft (such as a Cessna Citation Excel). Snacks stocked on the aircraft are normally included but not catering if you want more or the length of trip dictates it.

If you are a frequent flyer (200 plus hours a year) then you might consider the purchase of a whole aircraft. With whole aircraft operations, the more you fly reduces your per flight hour cost. Whole aircraft ownership guarantees consistency of the aircraft you fly but will it be right for each trip you want to take (too much or too little but it is all you have). Also if you are flying your own aircraft or it is parked in the hanger you incur costs like insurance, maintenance (maintenance is required if you fly it or not), hanger fees, crew salaries, crew training, depreciation, stocking and catering.  While charter has no commitment ownership does and depending on the aircraft market it may be hard to dispose of your aircraft (at least for the price you want).

Fractional aircraft ownership programs fall somewhere in between charter and whole aircraft ownership. There are several programs to choose from and range from turbo prop light models to large long range aircraft. However, today there are only two major fractional aircraft providers. While it is no secret that fractional programs are expensive (if you fly out and back trips on charter, fractional programs cannot match the charter cost) they do offer many attributes that program participates enjoy over charter and whole aircraft ownership.  The cost might be high but they are fixed and thus predictable. The larger fractional programs offer the ability to interchange to smaller or larger aircraft (normally on an as available basis) to match the seating capacity and range that is best for your trip but are priced at a premium. Catering that is reasonable for length of trip and passenger load is included as well as aircraft stocking. Maintenance, crew training, crew salaries, hanger fees are covered by your monthly or hourly fees. Should you elect to leave the fractional program after a contractual minimum term of ownership the fractional program guarantees to repurchase your fractional share in as little as 90 days. One other attribute most fractional users appreciate is the consistency in the type aircraft supplied and services provided (you know exactly where that bag of salted nuts or candy bars are).

Top Issues When Buying Fractional

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets, fractional consulting, fractional travel

Fractional Programs: Do You Really Own a Piece of the Aircraft?

Posted on Wed, Aug 20,2014

describe the imageWhen the fractional ownership of aircraft concept was introduced over 30 years ago no one knew what it was or how it worked. I think the hardest concept of fractional aircraft ownership to grasp was the outright ownership or leasehold of a portion of a very expensive piece of equipment (whole values range from $5 Million for a used small cabin aircraft to $60 Million plus for a large cabin new aircraft). I know when I was new in the fractional aircraft business coming from an original equipment manufacturer it was a concept that took me awhile to master and then explain to prospects. Some describe fractional aircraft ownership as be similar to vacation timeshares and while there are similarities the two concepts/businesses are worlds apart.

Vacation timeshares do provide you with ownership of a tangible asset and most give you title to a specific unit that is recorded in a local government office (such as the County Recorder or Assessor) along with an agreement to share the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the property. The asset is divided normally by a unit of time such as a week so you have rights to the (your) property once a year for that specific week. Also your period of ownership of the property is determined by you and you can dispose of it to anyone you desire and some timeshare operators/managers provide the option to sell your property back to them.

However, with fractional aircraft ownership or leasehold you acquire an undivided percentage interest in a specific aircraft (not a wing or an engine) and the size of the interest determines how much use of the aircraft (flight hours) you have during a 12 month period. If you purchase an interest this is documented by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill of sale and a FAA application for registration, both of which are filed with the FAA in Oklahoma City and specify that you own an undivided interest in a specific whole aircraft. If you have a leasehold interest in an aircraft, this is evidenced by the filing of the lease with the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and is supposed to be carried on the aircraft that it is associated with during all flights. Unlike vacation timeshares, your term of ownership of the interest in the aircraft or your leasehold of an aircraft is for a preset period of time, normally five (5) years, and you are limited to who you can sell your aircraft share to and limited to who you can assign your leasehold to by the fractional aircraft program providers terms and conditions. Even though you own your undivided interest in the aircraft, if you sell it to a third party or sell it back to the fractional aircraft program manager there are fees and potential penalties.

So, yes you do own a piece of an aircraft (not just a wing or an engine) but you are limited to what you can do with your share when it comes time to dispose of it.

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Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, private jet, fractional share, private jets, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets, fractional consulting, fractional travel

What Size Share is Right for You?

Posted on Mon, Jun 09,2014

Aircraft on RunwayIf you have ever flown on a private aircraft for business, fun, with friends or family you know how hassle free and downright great it can be. No metal detectors, TSA, taking your shoes off, long lines, delayed or canceled flights and you determine what airports to start and end your trip and what time you depart. There are so many great aspects of private aircraft travel (they are hard to list them all), no wonder it can be so addictive.

One way to get all the benefits of private aircraft travel without the inherent hassles of full aircraft ownership is through a fractional aircraft program. Fractional aircraft programs, just as the name suggests, provide the benefits of aircraft use without buying a whole aircraft, employing a crew and maintenance personnel, renting a hanger, etc. Most fractional aircraft programs offer shares as small as a 6.25% undivided interest of a specific aircraft in their fleet and this usually equates to 50 occupied flight hours (before a deduction for taxi time) per year and since the agreements with the provider normally have 5-year terms, 250 occupied flight hours over the term. If you need or feel you need more flight hours you can add on 3.125% incremental shares (25 flight hours per year) with no cap on how many shares you can acquire other than your bank account limits.

Now the big question is what size share do you buy or lease? Several of us at Jet Advisors® have seen on numerous occasions a new entrant into the fractional ownership program field buy or lease more than they really need. This usually results from underestimating how flying privately is so much more efficient than traveling by commercial means and unfortunately fractional sales people are not always motivated to make sure the share size fits the new share owner’s needs. Add to this the structure of fractional programs that lock you in for a certain minimum period that prevents you from reducing your share without significant penalties. The economics of fractional programs get skewed quickly in a very negative way if you leave unused (un-flown) hours in your bank at the end of each year.

What can you do to prevent acquiring a larger share than you need? My advice is start with acquiring the smallest share available in the aircraft type you desire or buy a jet card, which most fractional programs provide. Since, as I stated above, you can add onto your share in 25 hour per year increments as your usage grows or you determine your exact need, start off small. Going into a larger share than needed will cost you money, and not just a little money. Trying a 25 hour card has per hour costs higher than acquiring a share but it will give you a good idea on how efficient private aircraft travel is and how many hours you need to cover your annual travel without a long term commitment.

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets, fractional consulting, fractional travel

Recognizing when a Deal is Too Good to be True

Posted on Fri, Apr 11,2014

Aircraft Discussion The old saying 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is' holds true in most instances. It can be especially costly to you in the field of aviation if you fly charter, use a fractional service or have a whole aircraft or share a whole aircraft.

Aircraft are rather unique vehicles for travel in that most others wear out and get retired, but with an aircraft, as long as they are inspected and maintained to their manufacturer’s and the governmental agency that oversees them requirements they don’t wear out, to a point. This is one area to be concerned with if you are looking to buy a whole aircraft or share a whole aircraft with partners. Older aircraft have lower acquisition costs as compared to newer like aircraft but as aircraft age the maintenance and inspections become progressively more intensive. So you pay less upfront but the costs to keep the aircraft airworthy are higher, much higher than a newer aircraft. Also with whole aircraft ownership your travel patterns can cost you more. If you fly somewhere and stay, do you ferry the aircraft back empty to its base or do you keep it with you. If you keep it with you what do you do with your crew? Do you pay for them to fly home or do you pay their hotel, meal and rental car costs while they stay. Keeping the aircraft with you may not be an option if you share the ownership with others.

If you share the aircraft with others, who gets first priority for its use? If you are second inline do you not travel or do you have to find alternative means at your expense? Keeping in mind even when you are not using your aircraft you still incur expenses for its upkeep, hangar, crew, insurance, etc. If you have lease financed the aircraft you own or share, what are the aircraft condition requirements (cosmetically and mechanically) at end of the lease term? These can be substantial.

With fractional programs and charter operators what is your real cost? Like todays pricing for airline travel there can be many “hidden” costs. When a fractional company provides a proposal to enter their program do they include the depreciation on your aircraft asset (50% or more over a five year term), fuel adjustment (usually over a thousand dollars per hour) to your advertised hourly rate, flight time minimums, or taxes in the proposal? With charter companies you can ask the same questions, is the quote all inclusive or are there hidden charges like crew overnight fees, hangar fees if the weather is bad at your destination and catering charges. With charter or fractional programs, what if you make last minute changes to your itinerary or cancel the flight? What if the air transportation provider is late or doesn’t show up at all, what is your recourse?

As stated above, if the deal being offered appears to be great (too good to be true) compared to your other options, you need to find out why.

Topics: jet card, charter, fractional, fractional ownership, charter flights, fractional share, private jets, jet lease, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, jet co-owner, private jet co-owner, fractional light jets, fractional consulting

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

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, fractional consulting, fractional travel, airports

Understanding the Health of Your Fractional Program

Posted on Fri, Nov 01,2013

describe the image Participation in a fractional aircraft program is a good way to fly privately without buying a whole aircraft and covering the costs of such ownership if you do not fly more than 200/250 flight hours a year. Fractional ownership is not inexpensive but compared to the cost of owning and operating a whole aircraft for just 50/100 flight hours per year makes fractional programs somewhat of a bargain.

In the past almost all fractional programs were wholly owned subsidiaries of the manufacturer of the aircraft provided by the specific fractional provider. That has changed, today only one fractional provider is still owned by the aircraft manufacturer of the aircraft they use and this company is being sold to another fractional program not supported or owned by an aircraft manufacturer.

Does it matter if the fractional program is or is not owned by the aircraft manufacturer or other substantial corporation? Even if it is owned by the aircraft manufacturer or other corporate entity is that any guarantee of economic stability? Remember Lehman Brothers, who would have foresaw their demise? However, if it is a well-run and profitable fractional program I would say having a substantial parent is not necessary to insure stability. How can you tell if the fractional program is well run and profitable? On the financial side if it is a public company that reports its own financial condition then it is simple, but what if its results are combined with the parents reports? There are several signs that would provide indications that all may not be well at your fractional provider.

Some of the signs are appearance of the aircraft supplied (are they clean, in good repair with cabin convenience items functioning properly), is the aircraft supplied when and where requested, have flights been delayed or canceled without the offer of a backup aircraft, and are crews supplied professional and appear satisfied with their employment (pilots are usually pretty candid about their employer and how things are going with their company). Another sign that could indicate potential problems are the level of the fees charged for your participation in the fractional program and for flights taken. This will take a little homework but all fractional programs have web sites that usually contain their product pricing and there are other aviation related sites that provide costs of operation for specific aircraft types. Are your fees higher, about the same or lower as compared to other programs or as compared to published operational costs? It is OK to have lower costs and fees but are they so low that your fractional program is unsustainable. If your program is unsustainable at the costs and fees charged you should have concerns on safety of the aircraft and its operation and the return on your investment.

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Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, private jets, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets

Fractional Ownership, Who Owns the Parts on Your Aircraft

Posted on Tue, Oct 01,2013

fractional programThis may seem a strange topic but aircraft fractional ownership programs usually operate like commercial airlines when it comes to aircraft maintenance and rotable parts (the term the industry uses for parts that can be repaired or overhauled for repeated use). Rotable parts can range from minor parts to major components such as engines, landing gear and, in the case of a turbo prop, propellers. When I say fractional programs operate like commercial airlines when it comes to maintenance I mean they maintain pools of rotable parts so when a part is needed it is pulled out of the pool, placed on the aircraft and the unserviceable or out of time part sent for repair or overhaul. Then, when that part is returned following repair or overhaul it is placed into the pool for use later on another aircraft.

In small flight departments, most times when a part is returned following repair or overhaul it is put back on the aircraft it originally come from, especially if it is a major component. Not so in the fractional program since demand for and use of the aircraft is at a premium and it is time consuming to put original parts and components back where they came from. So the fractional programs pool all parts, minor to major, and after a few years none of the original parts and components are where they started life.

So why should you care? If you are an owner (as the fractional programs refer to their customers) and you are in one of the larger and financially solvent programs you shouldn’t, your main concern is that the program provider is maintaining the aircraft as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aircraft manufacturer’s recommendations. However, if you are in a smaller program with less than spectacular financials you may have some concerns. What if the company goes bankrupt or otherwise goes out of business? You own an asset (or part of one) but what do you do with it? I see only two real options, one is to try to sell your fractional interest for the best price and the other is to try to purchase the whole aircraft from the other fractional interest owners.

If you elect to try and sell your interest to the highest bidder then it is fairly straight forward for you but probably not for the buyer. If you elect to try and purchase all the other interests so you own 100% of the aircraft and succeed what do you get? The airframe side of it is easy but what about the minor to major rotable parts and components (an airframe becomes an aircraft when all the components great and small are added). I would not worry about the small parts as long as you have documentation as to their serviceability but the major items like the engines and if a turbo prop the propellers can become a big and expensive issue. Most of the fractional programs used to identify specific serialized engines (and propellers for turbo props) with each airframe but now are moving to identifying a specific make and model engine (and propellers) but not by serial numbers. Why would this be an issue? If the specific serial numbers were identified or there is a bankruptcy then you would need to get your engines back (propellers too if turbo prop). Where are they? Best case they are in good serviceable condition but sitting in stock or on another aircraft. Worst case they were sent out for repair or overhaul and there is a bill to be paid before the repair facility will release them or they are on another aircraft in the fractional fleet. If they are on another aircraft you have to pay to have the engines on your aircraft removed, the ones that are yours removed from the aircraft they are on and then to have them installed on yours. If they were out for repair or sitting in stock, you will still have to pay to remove the engines on your aircraft and install your engines.

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets

Fractional Light Jets

Posted on Tue, Sep 24,2013

Cessna Citation V UltraIf you have private trips 1,200 miles or less, and you have six or fewer passengers, it is likely you could utilize a small jet or light jet as they are called in the industry. There are many models on the charter market and within fractional and card programs and light jets can range from the smaller four-seat Cessna Citation Mustang or Embraer Phenom 100, to a six/seven seat Cessna Citation Bravo to a rather large, eight/nine-seat Westwind (note the Westwind offered may be over 30 years old). Light jets offer good performance, access to shorter runways, and a cost-effective alternative to more expensive midsize and large-cabin aircraft. Offering better speed than propeller driven aircraft, using a light jet is a good answer for intra-continental flights.

While light jet performance and range may meet your needs the cabin space on board and baggage capacity of a light jet is at a premium. A six or seven seat jet looks roomy when empty, but once loaded with six or seven tall and or large adults, might be a little tight for a longer trip. Thereare many on-line resources (like to help you familiarize yourself with the cabin layout and show the pros and cons (speed, range, passenger capacity, baggage space, head room, lavatory type, if any, and field performance) of the light jets available in the market place. If you are planning on ordering catering or bringing food on your trip, check if the jet has any food storage, refrigeration or warming capability. Most light jets do not. If you like your beverage in a cup or glass be sure your provider or caterer includes the glasses as most light jets will not have these on board.

Consider the length of time you will be in the air. Most light jets have a lavatory, but some of the older models do not. If it does, be sure to ask if it is fully enclosed with a solid door or just a privacy curtain. Also most experience flyers know that the longer the trip the smaller the cabin feels over time.

As with all aircraft, there is a balancing act between passenger count, baggage and fuel that is allowed on board to stay within the jet’s operating limitations.  With light jets, if you fill all the seats with people, you will have to carry less fuel, resulting in a fuel stop. Also, more passengers might mean you will need to travel very light. There is nothing worse than showing up to the ramp only to have your crew inform you that you won’t be able to bring all the baggage you brought. A competent provider should discuss these things with you prior to or at the time of booking your flight. Filling all the seats, flying non-stop, and bringing an abundance of luggage, a step up to a larger or more capable aircraft might be necessary, so consider the Citation Bravo.

Top Issues When Buying Fractional

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, fractional share, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, fractional light jets, phenom 100, embraer phenom 100

Who Else Owns My Fractional Jet?

Posted on Wed, Aug 14,2013

Private Jet, Gulfstream 450You own a fractional share in a specific aircraft through one of the several fractional aircraft programs, and you want (or need) to know who the other owners are. What can you do? Some programs have an ownership agreement that is supposed to be signed by all of the owners of a specific aircraft; if that is the case with your program, you could ask the program provider for a copy of the agreement signed by all owners. Even if your program provider does not require a separate agreement amongst the owners of a specific aircraft, you could request that information from them anyway.

If the program provider will not or cannot supply you with a list of the other owners, what are other options to obtain this information? If your fractional program is based in the United States, then your aircraft is required to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Most of the information filed with the FAA pertaining to aircraft ownership and registration is public information and easily accessed, if you know where to look. To gain co-ownership information, you will need to know your aircraft’s FAA registration number (also referred to as the tail number or N-Number - this information should be stated in your program provider agreements). Then you can simply go to the FAA web site ( and then to the N-Number Inquiry page. Type in your registration number and you will get a list of the other co-owners.

Private Jet Gulfstream 350The problem with getting a list of the other co-owners from the fractional provider, or from the FAA website, is the lack of contact information. It is doubtful the fractional provider would give you anything but the name the share is owned under, and that is all the FAA provides via their website. To add to this lack of information, most fractional providers use their address, not the co-owner's address, on the registration document and bill of sale to provide an additional level of anonymity for the aircraft co-owners.

You do have other options, such as the subscription service JETNET Online ( With access to JetNet, you can search for the other co-owners and drill down for contact information such as an address, a phone number, or an email address. All you need to know to conduct the search is the name of another co-owner (if you happen to already know of one), the FAA registration number, or your specific aircraft manufacturer’s serial number. (Like the registration number, the serial number should also be stated in the program provider agreements.) 

Even with the ability to search FAA records and the availability of online services to mine additional information, you can still run into problems determining the real end owner. If the ownership is held in the name of a trust (and many are) or the aircraft share was financed by a financial institution and leased back to the owner, then the true owner or responsible party is masked.

Topics: fractional, fractional ownership, private jet, fractional share, private jets, fractional program, fractional jet program, fractional co-owner, jet co-owner, private jet co-owner