While the fractional providers said publicly that switching to the more stringent rules of Part 91 Subpart K on February 17 was a nonevent, a look behind the scenes at NetJets reveals a somewhat more chaotic transition. It appears that the duty-time and crew-rest limitations of the new rule threw a proverbial monkey wrench into operations.
Charter and Fractional » Fractional
News and issues concerning the fractional-ownership industry and markets, including company announcements, regulations, new developments and labor issues.
The four major fractional aircraft operators hired 482 pilots last year compared with 198 in 2003, bringing the total roster of fractional pilots to 3,649 last year, according to aviation hiring firm AIR in Atlanta.
Four Embraer Legacy Executive twinjets have joined Cleveland-based fractional operator Flight Options to provide owners with a large-cabin aircraft to supplement the company’s Challenger 601 and Gulfstream IV fleets, as well as allowing Hawker 800XP owners to upgrade. The Legacy Executive is an eight- to 13-passenger business jet version of the Brazilian manufacturer’s ERJ-135 regional jet.
In the first 11 months of last year, the four largest fractional aircraft operators hired just 186 pilots, compared with 997 in the same time frame in 2002, according to figures compiled by AIR Inc., an Atlanta-based aviation-career consulting firm. November was one of the more active months, however, with 25 pilots reportedly being hired by one operator, Flight Options, AIR numbers show.
This month NBAA continues a series of seminars on Part 91 Subpart K, the new rule that regulates fractional operations. The next three seminars are scheduled on January 20 in Van Nuys, Calif.; February 20 in Dallas; and June 25 in Chicago. Topics include a review of the FAR revisions; ownership and operator responsibilities; tax and financial implications; international aspects; and aircraft registration options.
A day after news of the NetJets order for 50 Hawker 400XPs, Cessna Aircraft parent company Textron announced that it expects no financial impact from the fractional provider’s earlier cancellation of an order for 50 Citation CJ3s. The company expects the canceled order, applied to jets slated for delivery in the late 2005 to 2008 timeframe, to be reallocated to existing customer orders.
Fractional operator NetJets announced an order late last month for 50 Hawker 400XPs and eight midsize Hawker 800XPs, a deal valued in excess of $360 million. The order also includes an option for 50 Hawker 400XPs, bringing the total potential value to more than $600 million. In addition, discussion is under way with an undisclosed company on a long-term maintenance agreement, which was to be finalized by the end of last year.
The five major fractional operators fell short of AIR’s projected pilot hiring levels last year, according to statistics prepared by the Atlanta-based aviation employment consultant. The major players–Avantair, CitationShares, Flexjet, Flight Options and NetJets–hired 674 new pilots, more than 300 shy of AIR’s January 2006 estimate that 1,000 pilots would be required.
Long-time business aviation leader Jim Christiansen might be feeling a little déjà vu after his appointment last month as president of NetJets Aviation in Columbus, Ohio. From 1990 to 1992 he was president of Executive Jet Aviation, as the company was known then.
A Flight Options Beechjet 400A (N691TA) yesterday afternoon experienced a dual-engine flameout en route from Indianapolis International Airport to Marco Island Airport, Fla., while on a positioning leg. The crew declared an emergency and landed safely at Jacksonville International Airport. This marks the second such Beechjet incident at the Cleveland-based fractional provider.