Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Starting up a charter company

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Nov 28, 2001
What is the process like starting up a charter company, i.e. getting an FAA Operating certificate and all the other stuff involved with it?

I'd suggest getting in touch with the local FAA office and asking them. IMHO, it's a good way to lose a lot of money!
The only easy way is to start with a large fortune, just like the old saying. You need years of time, lots of money, some FAA saavy, and a lot of patience. Not to mention, depending on the type of charter you intend to do, the market may be saturated depending on where you live. There is only so much need for this type of service, as many operators have learned the hard way. I'd rather start a new career as a brain surgeon, it's be less stressful.
I agree, you can kiss that money good bye. If you really what to start one(God knows why) you would be best offf contacting your local FAA office.:eek:
Unfortunately it is a really hard business to try to get into. I started an ran a 135 service for about 7 years. It was a great adventure, and we did moderately well. But if I thought the risk / reward / effort / payoff ratios were anywhere near livable I would still be in it. It was a lot of fun.

The biggest question that anybody thinking about getting into this kind of business should ask is : "Is there a sufficient demand at an economically real price level to really do this here?" Guess what - nobody ever EVER asks that question. They get into the business because they want to for personal reasons - not business reasons (which also means that's who you have to compete against).

When it does work, it's not usually a straight charter business. Someone owns corporate or personal airplanes, and sets up a management company to sell off unused time, etc...

Good luck in whatever you decide.
good idea...

A charter company I'm thinking about starting involves my own idea which is different than the typical 135 charter business. The a/c (s) I would own/operate would give me an advantage over the rest of the competition. Would it still be difficult?

THanks for all the suggestions!
Aero, if your time listed on your profile is correct, I think you're just dreaming bud.

If you are carrying paying passengers, you've gotta be 135, and most charter stuff should be IFR, unless you live in a part of the country where it's always sunny. 135.243 pretty handily puts that out of your grasp for the near future unless you've got that large fortune to start with.

You know what they say: "the only way to make a small fortune in aviation is to start with a large one."

Good luck to you, a saturated market will become a LOT of business if you provide a better product. Of course, convincing a financier of such could be tough...

You got the first part right

You have passed the first test, your a dreamer. I started a Part 135 operation years ago with $500.00 and a leased C-206. It grew to a $750,000 per year business with 12 aircraft. Unless you have bucks to get you into the turbine charter which you almost have to do now days in order to be able the generate the cash flow needed to comply with all the bs.I had contracts with Emery Air Freight, CF Air Freight, and flew for Ford, GM, and all the other automotive companies. We did contract work in Alaska and flew all over the Lower 48 and Central and South America. You must be reliable and have an ability to adapt quickly to the market place. You have to find your nitch and work it hard. The biggest problem is finding people that are willing to work with you and stick it out. Usually about the time you get someone trained in they are off to the next person that will aways have better benifits and pay more. The key is being able to do it all, fly, maintenance, dispath, and the bookeeping, quess who gets to fill in whenever someone gives their two week notice(you will find that a sick policy)and just leave-some people don't even give you the courtesy of that. It takes 2 months just to hire and train a new pilot, guess who gets to do double duty in the mean time. I burned out and quit after 10 years, I cashed everything in for $150,000 the sad thing is if I still had all those airplanes I would have my first million plus. That is the way the ball bounces, I worked so hard my twenties are just a blurr. Now I fly a normal life with normal schedule and find it a breeze. Life is good.:)
I would completely disagree with Dan. Being on owner/ operatior of a 135 outfit doesn't require the owner to be able to fly. It would make the startup much easier for a more experienced pilot that has flown for 135. If you have the background in business, start up capital, and maybe a partner or two with flight experience to help you get in the air anything is possible.

Ever successful business owner I know started out with a dream and 10 people in line telling them it couldn't be done blah blah...

If you have a dream and an idea and a way to get it off the ground then go for it. If you are like me you would rather try something and fail than not try at all.
Aero99, you're certainly right that everyone who has succeeded had to listen to many people tell them "it'll never work". I would certainly encourage this guy not to succumb for that reason.

It is, however, and entirely different thing to have people saying "I have been there - and it sucks!". A regular conversation of the individual owner / operator Part135 outfits I knew was just how few charter services were honest-to-God profitable stand-alone business. So many dreamy eyed pilots wanted to be in the business, and all were willing to offer the services at breakneck prices, that noone could make a buck. It seems to be a permanent fact of life in that industry.

As was pointed out you'll work your guts out for a month in a Baron or Navajo to carve out the profit you'll make in one Learjet run across the country (which will make you tons of money all month til it sits for 28 days waiting for some hideously expensive part that's not available, then you're broke). There could be a whole new conversation on just capital alone.

This guy mentions something about a special angle - it's not as if there are no profitable Part 135 operators out there. Plenty have the right situation, but I bet it is a tiny fraction of the ones out there. Maybe he's got something unique that other operators don't.

Also Aero99 - you're right, being a pilot or not isn't much of an issue as to wether or not you can run a charter operation. I started mine with about 700 hours, and didn't make IFR PIC until my first year in business. In fact, the problem is that too many of the people that start up these outfits are pilots rather than business people. Heck - in some ways I was able to think farther outside the box and make some really cool innovations to our market because I didn't know that "that's not how it's done".

In retrospect, it would have been nice to have had more experience in both business and 135 flying. The learning curve would not have been nearly so costly.

Sure did have a lot of fun though...Whatever you do, find, beg, borrow, or kidnap someone with a lot of experience in a successful operation to help guide you.

Good Luck.

Latest resources