AsBAA, a signatory to the Air Charter Safety Alliance, launched a joint initiative in 2020 to combat illegal charter, addressing a growing concern among members and industry. In 2021, AsBAA launched its Illegal Charter Task Force and Illegal Charter Reporting System, Asia’s first initiatives to directly address and combat the serious threats to air charter and the public that are often difficult to identify due to the use of deceptive and convoluted agreements. AsBAA began formally collecting and reporting suspected illegal charter to civil aviation authorities in August 2021. AsBAA’s initiative to combat illegal charter is supported by a sub-committee of legal advisors (led by global law firm HFW), partner associations, and members of the press.
AsBAA's Illegal Charter Task Force seeks to:
● Work with civil aviation authorities to provide guidance on identifying and steps to avoiding illegal operations
● Work with legislative bodies to better equip civil aviation authorities in combating this long-standing safety issue
● Educate members and the Public through campaigns and resources, such as with the "HFW and AsBAA Survey: Illegal Charter"
● Assist civil aviation authorities in enforcement through data collection and reporting
● Leverage existing data sources to help civil aviation authorities focus enforcement efforts
● Help industry provide civil aviation authorities with illegal charter reports that provide more actionable data
What can you do?
If you believe you are chartering, verify the operator's legitimacy. Ask for copies of the air carrier certificate and for validation that your selected aircraft is authorized for charter use. If an operator is resistant to providing verification, you would be wise to consider another charter operator. When leasing an aircraft, recognize that you are assuming responsibility for all aspects of the flight. If the lessor is retaining responsibility, it may be an illegal charter.
Ensure you fully understand the requirements for legitimate leases (see, for example, advisory circular AC 91-37B for US-registered aircraft). If you consider placing your aircraft in a "leasing pool" or "leasing program," conduct an independent exam of the system to ensure you are not engaging in a disguised illegal charter system.
If you suspect illegal charter operation, please report it to the AsBAA Illegal Charter Reporting System. All reports are forwarded to the appropriate civil aviation authorities, assigned a case number, and proactively followed-up by AsBAA as needed. Educate your aircraft owners and customers on the risks posed by illegal charter schemes. Legal operators incur relatively high overhead costs to properly maintain the aircraft, train and test crewmembers, and stay compliant with regulations. In return, they accept the legal and financial risks for their operations. Ultimately the adage holds true—if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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Credit to AsBAA's partner, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), for their respective resources listed above.