General aviation consists of many aspects, and provides many different possible career paths for budding pilots. Our discussion of the 7 Great Careers In General Aviation wraps up today with a conversation about the fractional pilot career.
Fractional aircraft ownership programs have been around for quite some time now, with the Executive Jet Aviation incorporated in 1964 and domiciled in Columbus, Ohio, run by a retired Air Force general and a fleet consisting of Lear Jets.
The idea behind fractional aircraft ownership was that individuals and corporations who had the need for some private air transportation but not enough to justify a flight department could share ownership in aircraft thereby making it more cost effective.
Today, fractional aircraft programs range from the largest in the world, NetJets with over 800 aircraft, to much smaller, regional fractional aircraft programs like The Company Jet which operates a small fleet of Bombardier Learjet 40XR ER aircraft.
For the pilot seeking a career other than the airlines choosing the fractional pilot career may be a great choice. The standards established by the larger fractional ownership programs rival those of the airlines, and the income possibilities can nearly equal that of the airlines.
When flying for a fractional aircraft operator pilots usually have a fixed schedule of days on and off, providing some stability and structure to their lives, unlike the life of a corporate pilot who may be on call 34/7. In addition, rigorous training programs are in place including using simulator training facilities like those at Flight Safety and Simuflite.
The schedule for a fractional pilot resembles that of an airline pilot where the duty cycle is typically a number of days. For example a typical schedule might be 14 days on and 7 days off. The pilot travels to where ever the aircraft is they are going to fly, and when the complete their duty time they fly home leaving the aircraft where they last landed.
Unlike corporate pilots who generally do not spend a lot of nights on the road, a fractional pilot will spend a significant amount of time on the road. But for many his is offset by the level of income that can be achieved with a fractional pilot career.
The largest fractional operator is NetJets, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company, and manages more aircraft than all the other fractional programs combined. Owners are never far away from an aircraft, and NetJets will get an aircraft to an owner within 4 to 10 hours and take the owner anywhere they want to go.
All the logistics are handled by NetJets, including flight planning, flight following, catering and any other requirements for each particular flight.
Smaller fractional operators like The Company Jet operate fewer aircraft, typically of one type, and their customer base is both geographically nearer and a more personal relationship with owners is embraced. The Company Jet operates a fleet of Learjet 40XR ER aircraft along with the Cessna Citation Bravo aircraft.
We have examined briefly 7 of the great careers in general aviation, but there are many, many more we have not even touched upon yet. It baffles me why young people today are not considering a career in aviation – its interesting, challenging and a great career with many avenues to pursue.
I have been contacting a lot of people I know and hope to shortly put together a series of posts with interviews of pilots in these different careers, including creating some podcast interviews.
A Personal Note
I will be on vacation next week, so I don’t know how many posts I will do. I have asked some fellow bloggers if they would like to do some guest posting, so don’t be surprised if there are a number of guest posts next week.
To learn more you should get Flying Airplanes: For Fun and Money! (A Practical Guide to Becoming a Professional Pilot) which is a great read!
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
— William Shakespeare
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