Travel by charter or private aircraft involves a greater risk than travel by commercial airline. This is because commercial operators undergo stricter surveillance from local regulatory bodies, such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and various other civil aviation authorities around the world, than charter and private operators do.
Compared with charter and private aircraft operators, commercial operators are subject to:
- More intense pilot training requirements
- More restrictive flight and duty times, to eliminate fatigue
- Stricter medical, drug and alcohol surveillance
- Stricter oversight of flight operation management and aircraft maintenance
Commercial operating crews tend to have more flight experience than the operating crews of charter and private aircraft. Commercial crews are also more likely to have aircraft simulator experience.
Surveys by organizations such as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) show that passengers on charter and private aircraft are much more likely to experience accidents than passengers on commercial airlines.
How can the risks associated with charter and private flights be reduced?
More than one half of fatal aircraft accidents are caused by pilot error or lack of skill. Other causes of fatal accidents include poor maintenance practices, including the use of unapproved parts and unqualified maintenance staff.
As regulatory oversight of charter and private operations is limited compared to that of commercial operations, it is important to seek detailed information about the pilot’s level of experience and to ensure the operator has a solid training program and strict checking requirements.
An independent audit by a recognized and accredited aviation audit company can mitigate the risks associated with inexperience and poor work practices. Such an audit can assess:
- Experience levels of pilots and maintenance staff
- Safety records, including accident history
- Aircraft maintenance and flight operations policy, procedures and records
- Company and pilot suitability for carrying out the required task
The audit can be tailored further to meet specific requirements. For example, it can determine whether a charter or private operator can provide the specific skills required for tasks such as:
- Power line inspections
- External load lifting
- Low level surveys
- Offshore helicopter operations
- Flights to remote locations or over hostile terrain
Whatever the task, an audit by a skilled aviation safety consultant can enhance the safety of your operation.
For more information, please contact:
SGS HART Aviation
Suite 25, Level 1
49 University Street
Carlton VIC 3053
t: +61 (0)3 9347 5444
f + 61 (0)3 9349 3278
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 80,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,650 offices and laboratories around the world.