Is it Safe?

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A question is often asked about private air charter... "is it safe?". Air charter operators are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration much in the same way that commercial airlines are. The airplanes are inspected on a strict schedule and components checked regularly, with some having useful life expiration dates, at which point they need to be rebuilt or replaced. This aspect applies to engines, propellers as well as some sub-components.

There is a set of Federal Regulations that layout everything we can and cannot do, much like traffic regulations for cars, only much broader and specific. All airlines and private charter operators must adhere to these rules. Federal aviation regulations (FAR) part 119, (and 23, 25 120 and 121 etc.) of the FAA's regulations dicate company and pilots actions. In addition, private charter aircraft must adhere to part 135 of Title 14 of the Federal Aviation regulations. All air charter companies are monitored by a regional designated Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), responsible for overeseeing a charter company's activities and performing the necessary checks to insure compliance with these regulations.

Pilots must be United States citizens, have clean criminal records, obtain a medical certificate from a FAA medical examiner, and in some cases have a college degree to fly for a charter company. Pilots also go through rigorous training and a flight check by a FAA examiner or designated examiner. As a part of their training, emergency maneuvers are practiced. One engine out operation, emergency descent, operating with certain components inoperative, are all situations that very rarely occur in real life, so to practice them on a frequent basis keeps crews up to speed on how to handle these situations, should there ever occur in real situtations. Pilots are also trained to fly safely in various type of inclement weather. Modern aircraft design and cockpit accessories enable planes to deal with rain snow, turbulence, icing, pretty much any kind of weather conditions that might be encounted. There are situations that pilots will generally go to great lengths to avoid such as severe thunderstorms, winter blizzard conditions, extreme wind conditions, and very low visibility.

Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiles and researches accident statistics for the entire country. Its 2008 Traffic Safety Facts Data analyizes the millions of accidents and other statistics. Statistics from 2013 reveal a total 5,419,000 aircraft accidents with 32,988 fatalities.

Flying

The National Transportation Safety Board compiles aviation accident data. Statistics from 2013 reveal a total 1,222 aircraft accidents with 440 fatalities.

Conclusion

Flying may seem much more dangerous than driving, because a bad outcome is so much more dramatic, but flying acutally is very much safer than driving. Airplane crashes are catastrophic, with fatality rates being higher, which captures more attention and makes people more sensitive to them. Automobile deaths and injuries happen every day, with losses occurring over time, making their collective effects much less noticeable.

Statistically, you are you are 4500 times more like to get in an auto accident than in an airplane, but have a greater chance of dying if you are involved in one.

2013 Auto Accidents = 5,419,000
2013 Auto Fatalities = 32,999

2013 Aviation Accidents = 1220
2013 Aviation Fatalities - 440

Put simply, there are apporimately 4441 auto accidents for every 1 aviation accident

 

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