Glossary of Aviation and Charter Terms

The world of Aviation has it's own language.   The terms and phrases listed here are intended to facilitate the understanding the chartering of private aircraft.

General Aviation--this is the classification of all aircraft that are not operated under FAR Part 121 or FAR Part 135 Commuter rules.  Approximately 95% of the aircraft operated in the US are General Aviation (GA) aircraft.  GA operations include all flying except "scheduled routes".

Charter--the "renting" of an aircraft with crew for a personal,  business, or cargo flight from one point to another.  Use of an aircraft that is not owned at least in part, or time shared with another corporation or individual,  generally falls under the Part 135 Charter rules.

Charter flights generally include the required pilots to fly the airplane, and fuel required to fly the trip.
These charges are usually quoted in an "hourly rate" or a "by-the-mile" rate.

Typical Extra charges include:

Short legs
Flight Attendant/ Cabin Server Services
Special requests
Fuel surcharges
Overnite charges
Waiting  time
In-flight phone usage
International Handling Fees
Taxes and Segment Fees

Quote--the estimated price of an entire charter trip based on the information the customer provides.  It is usually required that the estimate be given to the customer in written form for approval.  Extra charges that occur during the actual trip are passed on to the customer in the final billing.
Note--getting a trip quote does not mean the trip is confirmed or "booked".  It is simply an estimate.

Itenerary--the entire trip listed point by point with departure times and arrival times, passenger lists, FBO's, and details about each leg.

Leg--the segment of the flight from one point to the next.   A trip usually has at least 2 legs, and possibly more.

Live Leg--a flight with passengers onboard.

Deadhead Leg--a flight with no passengers.  Usually a repositioning flight.

Short Leg--usually a very small distance that does not allow the airplane to climb to an economical operational altitude, so a fee is charged to compensate for higher fuel burns and operational costs.

Trip Status:  There are several terms used for determining the status of the trip.
     Quoted Trip--an estimate has been given, but not booked.
       Aircraft Available--usually means that an aircraft and a crew is available to take the trip
      Hold--typically only used for owners or repeat customers.  The aircraft is "held" for a specific customer on the schedule, and no other trip is   booked for that date.  Most operators will not hold an aircraft for a long period of time, especially if there is another request for the same date.
      First Right of Refusal--when two customers want the aircraft for the same time period, there is a customer who has first choice, but must make a decision in a timely manner so that if the first customer chooses not to use the aircraft the second customer's trip becomes primary.

Confirmed--the quote has been approved by the customer, an aircraft has been assigned and a crew is notified.  The dispatcher will be working with the customers to arrange the trip logistics: ETD's, FBO's, which airports, ground transportation, catering, number of passengers, passport info, etc.

Cancelled--a Held trip or a confirmed trip cancels.

Fixed Base Operation (FBO) or Flight Service Operation (FSO)--the place that general aviation aircraft use to park, refuel, load and unload passengers.  This is located on the airport but not at the main airline terminal.  There may be several FBO's located on the airport.

Departure Time  (ETD)--Estimated Time of Departure.  This is usually the time the pilots expect to be starting engines.

Arrival Time (ETA)--Estimated Time of Arrival.  The expected time of arrival at the destination, based on the planned departure time.

Enroute Time (ETE)--the Estimated Time Enroute for the leg.

Zulu Time--(also UTC--Universal Coordinated Time) the time zone in Greenwhich, England that constitues the world aviation standard time zone.  This allows computer programs to compensate for the many time zones crossed during a flight.

Local Time--always the local time where you are, or for a specified location.

FAR--Federal Aviaiton Regulation--the federal laws and statutes that govern all US aviation operations.

Part 135--the section of the FAR's that govern any charter flight.  These "rules" are actually federal laws and they specify in great detail the requirements for equipment in the airplane, the training minimums and operational limits for the pilots,  flight attendants, and maintenance personnel.

Part 91--the section of the FAR's that govern the operation of any general aviation flight.  Many corporate flight departments, and all non-professional pilots function under these rules.

Part 121--the section of the FAR's that govern major airline operations.

Fuel Surcharge--a charge for the increased price of fuel to cover temporary fuel price increases. The average cost of fuel is included in the hourly rates.

RON--remain overnite.  Listed as an extra expense that covers hotel and meal charges for pilots and flight attendants.

Catering--meals and snacks served on the airplane.  These can be specifically requested in advance, but the dispatcher should help you determine the capabilities of an aircraft for a particular flight.

Flight Attendants--considered a member of the crew who has been formally trained in aircraft systems, and cabin emergencies, whose duties include serving meals and assisting passengers.

Cabin Servers--someone who assists passengers with meals and basic aircraft equipment.  The cabin server has not been formally trained in aircraft cabin emergencies and is not considered an official member of the crew. If no flight attendant or cabin server is on board, the passengers are required to serve themselves.

Waiting Time--the time the airplane on the ground at an intermediate stop while waiting for the passengers to continue their trip.

Minimum Required Usage Time--this is a minimum number of flight hours required per day.  This helps justify taking the airplane out of service for a single customer that may require very little flight time, but still requires the airplane for transportation.

In-flight Phone fees--charges incurred by the use of the flight phone on some airplanes.
International fees---traveling out of the USA incurs charges from each country.  These charges vary, so an estimate of the costs is made and a general charge is made in the quote.  Some foreign countries are very slow in billing and it is not uncommon to get airway fees and customs and immigration fees after the actual flight takes place.

International Handling Fees--Most companies use a "handler" to smooth the way and expedite the customs and immigration process for the passengers.  The fee for the final charges is added to the final invoice.

Operator--the actual operator of the airplane, not necessarily the owner.

Certificate Holder--the company that actually holds or has possession of the Part 135 Air Taxi Certificate issued for Charter operations by the FAA.   The owners and operators of the aircraft may not be the certificate holder, however they must have complied with all the requirements of the certificate holder, and are held accountable as the certificate holder.  Certificate holders do not necessarily own the airplane.

Air Ambulance--a charter aircraft that is configured with a stretcher and medical equipment for the carrying of a patient.  The type of equipment onboard will be specific to the need of the patient and the operator.  Anyone arranging an air ambulance needs to get a list of specific equipment needed and make sure that the equipment can be obtained.  One should assume that absolutely nothing will be on board an air ambulance except the stretcher and normal aircraft seats unless coordinated in advance.  The Leg that has a patient onboard is known as a "lifeguard flight".

Duty hours--the number of hours that a pilot or flight attendant is allowed to "work" regulated by Part 135 FAR's.


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  Last edited Nov, 2008