Deciding to own or lease a private jet, or to utilize a private jet charter service for business or pleasure is an important decision. Within this industry are several business models, each of which provide a differing level of safety, security, with each falling under unique regulatory requirements.
Those with even a moderate level of experience dealing with business aviation in the USA, as an operator, client or employee, have likely have ran across what is known as Part 91 and Part 135 distinctions in operation.
Also known as FAR regulations, Part 91 and Part 135 are sections within the Federal Aviation Regulations that provide flight and operational rules for private air travel with or without paying passengers. These regulations were put in place to protect passengers and promote aviation safety, establishing consistent guidelines and standards for privately-owned aircrafts and air travel. Generally speaking, private charter jet services fall under FAR Part 135 regulations while privately owned aircrafts for personal travel fall under FAR Part 91.
Although they may seem straight forward on the surface, there is a lot going on under the hood, with each being a bit more nuanced than you may have first imagined. This guide will help you better understand Part 91 and Part 135 and how each of those may impact you in your dealings with private jets and business class travel.
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Two Set of Rules for Two Different Types of Air Travel?
On the surface, it appears that the FAA has established two separate sets of regulations for the operation of the same aircrafts based on whether or not they receive some form of compensation.
However, this differentiation between paying and non-paying passengers is one that leaves some in the public sector concerned about whether or not there is a difference in the safety protocols and measures required of flights that have paying vs. non-paying customers.
Part 135 (more on this later) was put in place in order to hold flight operations, crew, aircraft owners and more to a higher standard than if they were simply providing their own transportation. That said, even with Part 135, Part 91 regulations still apply unless overridden by a more restrictive regulation in Part 135. As a general rule, regulations under Part 135 are far more strict on aircraft maintenance and safety.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, below we’ll cover Part 91 and Part 135 in more detail. Interested in leasing a jet? Check out the Differences Between Wet Leasing vs. Dry Leasing
Part 91 details the rules and regulations pertaining to the flight and operation of a “civil aircraft”. The definition of civil aircraft is broad, encompassing everything from the massive Boeing 777 to the understated Cessna 182.
The rules detailed under Part 91 are for “non-commercial” flights, not taking into consideration the possibility of any monies exchanging hands. As such, complying with Part 91 does not adequately meet the requirements needed in order to charge any type of fee (be it for cargo, passengers, fuel, crew, etc.).
In order to legally receive compensation for air transportation, an operator must obtain a commercial certificate from the FAA, and in certain cases, even approval from the Department of Transportation.
Under Part 91 those owning aircrafts are required to establish what is called an “inspection program”. This program is considered to be less rigorous than the standards set forth under Part 135, and can generally “pass” scrutiny with an annual inspection (although owners may opt to conduct these more frequently). The “inspection” is designed to evaluate the airworthiness of a private jet or other aircraft by evaluating its parts, components and integrity.
Under Part 91, the “pilot in command” of the craft is largely responsible for making a final determination as to the operation of the aircraft. Further, in the event of an “emergency” requiring immediate action, the pilot has the authority to deviate from Part 91 regulations up to the extent that may be necessary to overcome such an emergency.
Other Notable Differences:
- Pilots are not required to adhere to mandatory shift maximums without breaks
- Fire blocking mechanisms for the interior are not mandatory (though may be present)
- Conditions for takeoff (such as visibility) are largely determined by the pilot
- Required runway length is determined by the aircraft’s performance limitations
- Passenger identification is not typically required for travel within the US
- Compensation for air travel may only be taken under very limited circumstances
Part 135 FAR regulations were put in place in order to establish a consistent and mandated standard for best practices, safety and professionalism across the private air charter industry. Regulations under Part 135 largely govern aircraft maintenance, insurance requirements, pilot experience and training, and safety protocols.
Part 135 operator regulations cover commercial air travel such as that from air taxi and private charter jet companies. Only those charter jet companies or owner with a Part 135 certificate can legally fly cargo or passengers for “compensation or hire”.
The majority of business aircraft are designed for private commercial passenger travel, and as such, the majority of commercial certificates issued by the FAA are for Part 135. These certificates are often referred to as “charter certificates” (though “air charter certificates” is its actual technical name). Obtaining a new certificate is an arduous process that is both time-consuming and wrought with red tape.
Notable Differences Under Part 135
- 100-Hour Inspection and more rigorous maintenance programs
- A higher standard of pilot qualifications
- Fight crew subject to drug and alcohol testing
- Flight duty time and rest requirements
- Strict operational requirements
- On-site weather reporting required at airports utilized
- Additional 40% cushion of runway length required
- Passenger identification required
- Potential tax consequences such as a longer depreciation schedule (7 vs 5 years) and transportation excise taxes.
Reach out today and get connected with an expert from our team to help you navigate. You can also learn more about the Cost to Rent a Jet One For a Day
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