What happens if a private jet charter aircraft has a mechanical and is grounded?
One of the most significant issues in the private jet charter industry is reliability. Mechanical issues happen for a variety of reasons:
- Bird strikes - when a bird flies into an engine during flight
- Faulty sensors
- Landing gear issues, and other mechanical failures
- Interior equipment issues such as heating or plumbing malfunctioning
When a mechanical occurs, the aircraft maintenance team will take a quick look to see if they can fix it immediately. If a quick fix is not an option, the aircraft has to go into maintenance.
Either way, any good private jet broker should make sure that they have backup options on standby. Knowing where aircraft are, which aircraft are available, how long it will take to get the pilots there, and how soon can they recover from the mechanical, are all things that good brokers consider.
With Paramount, we try to keep it down to two hours or less to get the backup in position as there is usually a two-hour callout for the pilots. NetJets allows for up to six hours delay due to a mechanical. However, if a company is going to be reliable, then they should always have a backup option on standby.
How often does a private jet mechanical happen?
Private jet mechanicals are not common. However, mechanicals happen often enough to require that you have a plan B if one does occur. A rough estimate is one out five or one out of six flights will have a mechanical issue.
Most mechanical issues are small, such as a sensor going off, the avionics systems needing a reboot, etc. These are quickly fixed and may only cause a few minutes delay. Mechanicals that require an aircraft to go into maintenance such as engine issues and equipment failures are rarer.
At Paramount Business Jets, we begin tracking aircraft 24 hours before it’s going to fly you. We also track the plane for the trip before yours to make sure that it’s departing on time and there are no delays. If there is an issue such as a mechanical, we like to give ourselves the maximum amount of time to be able to secure a backup aircraft.
We also track the flight throughout your journey until you reach your destination. If we see that you have not departed on time, we immediately call the operator or the pilots to find out what’s going on. Sometimes, this is the point where we find out from the operator that they are looking into a potential mechanical issue. We immediately start securing the backup aircraft we’ve identified in case of failure to resolve the mechanical problem.
Our goal is always to have a backup prepared and to catch the mechanical as early as possible.
When a private jet mechanical happens, does it cost the client more money?
Private jet charter mechanicals could cost the client more money depending on the client’s private jet program. If the client flies with NetJets, for example, where they are already paying top dollar, then mechanicals are covered. They get a replacement aircraft without any extra charges. On a fixed rate jet card, they’re paying double the charter rate, so all mechanicals are covered.
For on-demand private jet charter, operators price each aircraft independently. Thus the backup aircraft may have a different price. Suppose the first plane was $12,000, the backup maybe $12,500, since operators price aircraft differently. Sometimes when a mechanical occurs, the operator may offer an upgrade to a larger plane for the same price, or slightly more with their approval. At Paramount, we do our best to match the backup option to the original aircraft model, age, and price.
Back up aircraft are usually using the same size or larger aircraft. It is possible that the backup aircraft comes in at a lower price than what the client originally paid. They can save money in such situations.
Are there certain airplanes that are more likely to have mechanicals than others?
Older aircraft seem to have more mechanical issues with the interior, such as malfunctioning heating or plumbing. These aren’t issues that ground aircraft but older aircraft generally have more problems.
Specific models also seem to have more mechanical issues than others. One example is the Hawker 1000. They seem to have mechanicals regularly. At Paramount, we rarely recommend the use of the Hawker 1000 to avoid putting our clients in that position. Even a brand new G550 flying its first 100 hours could have mechanical issues as they’re working out the kinks on the aircraft.
Do I get a refund if a backup aircraft is not available?
Yes, in the event we are unable to source a backup aircraft to your liking, you will get a partial refund that covers any legs not yet flown. If a mechanical happens at the beginning of the trip, you will get a full refund for flight.