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  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Thunderbird Airways see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 5, 2023                                    

    Contact: Tracey Cheek  

    Steve Hofmann 


    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Thunderbird Airways 

    National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Thunderbird Airways has recently joined its network of aviation professionals. Thunderbird Airways is an experienced, on-demand private jet charter operator and aircraft management company. 

    “NAFA members proudly finance, support or enable the financing of general and business aviation aircraft worldwide. We extend a warm welcome to Thunderbird Airways and support their services to further NAFA members in the aviation business,” said Ed Medici, NAFA President.  

    About Thunderbird Airways: 

    Thunderbird Airways provides on-demand charter flights anywhere in the continental U.S. Thunderbird also offers a full-service aircraft management program for corporate and personal aircraft, enabling aircraft owners’ peace of mind that their plane is cared for and maintains its airworthiness.   

    With a legacy in the private aviation sector, Thunderbird Airways connects people and destinations by putting the personal well-being of their passengers and crew first. Over decades, Thunderbird has earned the trust of a lasting customer base that transcends industries.  

    Thunderbird services include: 

    • Charter operator
    • Aircraft management 
    • Aircraft sales and acquisitions   

    Steve Hofmann, President of Thunderbird Airways and its parent company, E.N.G. Aviation, is an entrepreneur at heart. Steve's aim is to unite his passions for people, planes and technology to create a simpler, more seamless charter and aircraft ownership experience. His vision is to create an atmosphere of inspiration and comfort that makes the journey part of the destination.  

    Before joining Thunderbird Airways, Steve spent almost a decade pursuing his passion for innovation in the technology sector and is proud to have served in the United States Marine Corps. Steve's life-long love of aviation extends into his personal life as well. He is a multi-engine and instrument-rated private pilot with plans to achieve his first type-rating in 2023.  

    For more information, visit


    About NAFA:    

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a professional association that has been promoting the general welfare of aircraft finance for 50 years. Our network of members is comprised of lenders and product service providers who work together to finance general and business aviation aircraft. NAFA sets the standard for best practices in aviation finance by educating its members on the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. Government legislation, market influences and industry insights allow member companies to provide the highest quality services the industry has to offer.

     September 05, 2023
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Silver Air Private Jets see more

    Chuck Stumpf 
    President of Sales & Acquisitions 

     James Maxwell 
    Chief Financial Officer 


    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Silver Air Private Jets  

    National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Silver Air Private Jets has recently joined its professional network of aviation lenders. Silver Air Private Jets is a private aircraft management company and direct charter operator.  

    “NAFA members proudly finance, support or enable the financing of general and business aviation aircraft throughout the world, and we are happy to add Silver Air Private Jets to our association,” said Jim Blessing, President of NAFA.  


    About Silver Air Private Jets:  

    Founded in 2008, Silver Air Private Jets is an innovative, industry-leading aircraft management company, charter operator and aircraft sales and acquisitions company. The company operates under a Full FAA Part 135 certificate with worldwide operations as a DOT Certificated Air Carrier. Based in Southern California with corporate offices in Santa Barbara, Silver Air manages a comprehensive fleet of luxury aircraft, including light to long-range heavy jets with a global network operating around the clock, twenty-four hours a day. 

     Silver Air Private Jets has created a new aviation management and jet charter industry model, working with owners as partners rather than clients. The company gives owners a transparent view of their aircraft operations and making management decisions based on the aircraft owners’ goals. Silver Air Private Jets manages a diverse fleet of aircraft, from light to long-range heavy jets. The company strives to create an ownership-like environment for charter guests and ensures every charter guest on every flight has a world-class experience. 

    For more information, visit


    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a professional association that has been promoting the general welfare of aircraft finance for 50 years. Our network of members comprises lenders and product service providers who work together to finance general and business aviation aircraft. NAFA sets the standard for best practices in aviation finance by educating its members on the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. Government legislation, market influences and industry insights allow member companies to provide the industry with the highest quality services. The company now has three offices: Geneva, New York City and Dubai.     

     November 04, 2022
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Volato see more

    Nicholas Cooper

    Co-Founder and Chief Commerical Officer



    NAFA Welcomes New Member: Volato 


    National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Volato has recently joined its professional network of aviation lenders. Volato is a fractional jet and aircraft management company.  

    “NAFA members proudly support businesses designed to facilitate the aviation lending process, and we are happy to add Volato to our association,” said Jim Blessing, President of NAFA.  


    About Volato:  

    Volato is a full-service private aviation company with over 25 years of aircraft management experience. Volato provides a fresh approach to fractional ownership, aircraft management, jet card and charter programs.  

    Volato’s fractional program uniquely offers flexible hours and a revenue share on every live mission for owners in a fleet of bespoke HondaJet Elite aircraft, which are optimized for missions of up to four passengers, and Gulfstream G280 aircraft, which are optimized for missions of up to ten passengers.  

    Volato also offers the unique Stretch Jet Card, where members receive Stretch Credits according to their flexibility at booking and final itinerary. Stretch Credits accrue for flight time on Volato’s fleet of luxury private jets in the Stretch Jet Card Program. 

    All Volato flights are operated by its DOT/FAA-authorized air carrier subsidiaries (GC Aviation, Inc., FlyDreams, LLC d/b/a Volato) or by an approved vendor air carrier.  

    For more information, visit:


    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a professional association that has been promoting the general welfare of aircraft finance for 50 years. Our network of members comprises lenders and product service providers who work together to finance general and business aviation aircraft. NAFA sets the standard for best practices in aviation finance by educating its members on the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. Government legislation, market influences and industry insights allow member companies to provide the industry with the highest quality services. The company now has three offices: Geneva, New York City and Dubai.  

     November 04, 2022
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Learn top 5 benefits of this frequently misunderstood financing product for individuals and orgs. see more

    NAFA member Global Jet Capital discusses the top 5 benefits of this frequently misunderstood financing product for individuals and organizations.

    There is an unprecedented level of interest in business aviation. Thankfully, there are a range of options business aviation users can choose from to access an aircraft. Each conveys its own intrinsic benefits and drawbacks, and may be more or less attractive to the user based on their unique situation. Mindfully weighing these options – from charter, to fractional ownership, to operating leases, to traditional financing – is a crucially important process, especially since your choice can have far-reaching implications for your balance sheet.

    There are many strategic advantages to an operating lease that you should consider when making this choice. Here are the top 5 advantages that this frequently misunderstood financing product offers individuals and organizations:

    1. Built-in agility
    Yes, operating leases are contractual arrangements. The right lessor, however, can structure a lease that can adjust to changes in your mission.Depending on your needs, a lease can permit extensions, provide an early termination opportunity, or facilitate a move into a larger or smaller aircraft. In this framework, it’s easy to pivot to suit your unique situation.

    Read full article here

    This Global Jet Capital aricle was originally published by Business Jet Traveler in February 2022.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Avia Yacht Partners 360 Joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 13, 2022

    Contact: Tracey Cheek



    Avia Yacht Partners 360 Joins National Aircraft Finance Association

    Edgewater, MD – National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Avia Yacht Partners 360 has recently joined its network of aviation professionals. Avia provides bespoke consulting and facilitation of acquisitions, sales and financing/leasing for preowned and new build business jets and superyachts worldwide.

    “NAFA members pride themselves on knowing their markets, and the luxury market is one of our most important verticals,” said Jim Blessing, president of NAFA. “As NAFA celebrates our 50th anniversary, we point to the many services our members offer to the public, including the work Avia Yacht Partners 360 does in the luxury aircraft world. Knowing the legal filings required is equally important as understanding the mechanics or routes for flight.”

    Founder and CEO Rolf Smith serves the luxury niche in both the aircraft and luxury watercraft markets. Because of his own insider insights as well as a network of trusted partners, Avia Yacht Partners 360 helps make the dream of custom aircraft ownership and charters a reality.


    Products & Services

    • Charter: planning and execution of for-hire air travel
    • Sales: for those acquiring or selling aircraft
    • Financing and leasing: facilitation of the purchase process
    • New builds: integration and management of new-build luxury aircraft


    About Avia Yacht Partners 360:

    Avia Yacht Partners 360 was founded by Rolf Smith and is based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with locations in North America and Europe. The company provides a customized and bespoke approach to all the advisory, commercial, financial, legal, technical, and project management aspects of luxury aircraft acquisition. Avia is able to tailor services and components according to the needs of the client.


    About NAFA: The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a professional association that has been promoting the general welfare of aircraft finance for 50 years. Our network of members is comprised of lenders and product service providers who work together to finance general and business aviation aircraft. NAFA sets the standard for best practices in aviation finance by educating its members with the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. Government legislation, market influences and industry insights allow member companies to provide the highest quality services the industry has to offer. 

     April 14, 2022
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Aircraft Executives Joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2022                                   

    Contact: Tracey Cheek 



    Aircraft Executives Joins National Aircraft Finance Association 


    Edgewater, MD – National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Aircraft Executives has recently joined its network of aviation professionals. Aircraft Executives provides services focused on flight operations and aircraft acquisition transactions. 

    “NAFA members recognize the importance of flight operations and the data behind aircraft purchase transactions,” said Jim Blessing, president of NAFA. “Members with the type of expertise that Aircraft Executives possess are what make NAFA relevant and vital to the industry. We welcome Aircraft Executives to our organization as NAFA celebrates our 50th anniversary and look forward to their involvement in our upcoming conference and other events.” 

    Products & Services: 

    • Aircraft Brokerage and Acquisition Services  

    • Flight Operation Services  

    • Aviation Consulting Services 


    About Aircraft Executives: Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Aircraft Executives aims to ensure the best private aviation experience possible with transactions personalized to fit each client’s specific needs. The team can handle every step of the process from listing to closing and beyond with efficiency and professionalism. Aircraft Executives strives to continue relationships beyond the closing of the deal, whether to provide flight operation services or to simply be the trusted source for aviation questions.  

    Aircraft Executives services include research, valuation, selection, marketing and contracts for aircraft acquisition, flight department setup and crew staffing for operation services and aviation consulting services that include appraisals, delivery, leasing and charter brokering. 

    About NAFA: The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a professional association that has been promoting the general welfare of aircraft finance for 50 years. Our network of members is comprised of lenders and product service providers who work together to finance general and business aviation aircraft. NAFA sets the standard for best practices in aviation finance by educating its members with the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. Government legislation, market influences and industry insights allow member companies to provide the highest quality services the industry has to offer. The company now has three offices: Geneva, New York City and Dubai. 

     March 16, 2022
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA member, Clay Lacy Aviation, discusses private jet membership vs. custom jet charter services. see more

    Demand for flying by private jet increased significantly in the final quarter of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and travelers looking for a more private way to travel. New entrants to the industry grew the customer base for both private jet membership and charter providers.

    These newcomers have three main private travel options to choose from, but which is best?

    The answer depends on these key factors:

    • Availability
    • Budget
    • Customer service

    Read full article here.

    This article was originally published by Clay Lacy Aviation on July 28, 2021.

     August 31, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Essex Aviation's Michael J. Moore discusses increase in charter demand and aircraft acquisition. see more

    NAFA member Michael J. Moore, Executive Vice President of Essex Aviation, discusses high charter demand and aircraft acquisition.

    It’s been over a year since the World Health Organization formally declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The private aviation industry has been through some significant changes in that time period, with demand coming to an almost complete standstill in the early months of the pandemic. This steep decline in demand can be attributed to a number of factors, including domestic and international travel restrictions and personal safety concerns.

    Read full article here.

    This article was originally published by Essex Aviation on June 25, 2021.

     August 03, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Jet Card vs Fractional Ownership vs Charter: Which Is Best For You? see more

    NAFA member, Clay Lacy Aviation, discusses your options when it comes to jet cards, fractional ownership and charter.

    Jet cards, fractional ownership or private jet charter… which option is best for you? That’s the question we ask ourselves for each charter proposal we develop for our clients. Why? Because we want you to travel with confidence that you are flying with the program that makes the most sense for your budget and trip.

    In short, Clay Lacy Aviation charter might not always be the best travel solution for you – and we will make sure you know.


    Jet Card, Fractional Ownership or Charter

    Outside of owning your own aircraft, the best methods of experiencing private aviation are through jet card programs, fractional ownership or charter.

    Jet Card Programs allow you to purchase the future use of an aircraft. Costs are set at a fixed hourly rate, usually at market pricing, but can fluctuate based on your travel needs. Jet cards work well if you know exactly how many hours you plan to fly each year and if that amount is between 25 and 50 hours. Card programs do not include taxes and trip related expenses adding an additional cost to the pre-purchased flight hours.

    With Fractional Ownership, you purchase a portion of an aircraft or aircraft type to fly a specific number of hours a year. It’s often compared to a timeshare in real estate. Aviation companies specializing in fractional ownership sell these aircraft shares to jets they already own, which ensures an aircraft is nearly always available when you need it.

    In addition to the purchase price of the fractional share, you can expect to also pay a monthly management fee and an hourly fee to cover trip expenses, fuel taxes, and other variable fees. Many fractional and jet card programs have peak period prices, around holidays, that are higher than normal, and some have blackout days unless you purchase into a higher tier of membership.

    Charter differs from fractional ownership and jet cards in aircraft choice, pricing and availability. When you charter an aircraft with a company like Clay Lacy Aviation or through a charter broker – an individual who matches prospective travelers to available aircraft – you have a larger selection of models to choose from. Hourly charter prices are traditionally lower than jet cards, and significantly less than fractional ownership. And when you charter, you are only paying when you fly. There are no deposits, acquisition costs or membership fees.


    Trip Planning with Clay Lacy Aviation

    With Clay Lacy Aviation, you can rely on our straightforward approach to getting you the right aircraft solution for your flight. Like we said earlier, that does not necessarily mean us.

    When we do make the most sense for your needs, know that private jet charter with Clay Lacy Aviation offers these added benefits:

    • A large selection of aircraft which means you might fly a Phenom 300 for a regional business trip and the ultra-long range Gulfstream G650 to reach your international vacation destination. Additionally, if the aircraft you schedule suddenly becomes unavailable, we provide a replacement at no cost.
    • Pricing is flexible, and, while not always the least expensive of the three options, nearly always falls 20-45% below jet card pricing for round trip flights.
    • Taxes, fuel and fees are built into our charter quotes, so you know the exact amount you will pay before you ever take off.

    Plus, we promise not to take shortcuts with our aircraft – not just for our owners but also for your health and safety. Our philosophy is that an aircraft should fly no more than 400 hours a year, which benefits its health – and yours.

    We do not claim to be the best solution for every trip, but we can guarantee when you come to us, we will find the right solution for you.

    This article was originally published by Clay Lacy Aviation on March 16, 2021.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Why Do Companies Rely on Business Aviation? see more

    NAFA member, Western Aviation, discusses the benefits of business aviation.

    While companies that rely on business aviation represent many different professions and locations, they all have one thing in common: the need for fast, flexible, safe, secure and cost-effective access to destinations across the country and around the world. In many instances, business aviation is the appropriate transportation solution, opening the door to global commerce for small-community and rural populations by linking them directly to population centers and manufacturing facilities. The benefits of business aviation are clear:

    • Business aviation allows for efficient, flexible, safe, secure and cost-effective access to destinations across the country and around the world. Because employees can meet, plan and work with each other aboard business aircraft, productivity en route is greatly enhanced.
    • In many instances, business aviation is the best or only transportation option available, opening the door to global commerce for small-community and rural populations by linking them directly to population centers and manufacturing facilities. Studies have also shown that business aviation contributes greatly to local economies across the country.
    • Business aircraft allow employees to make a trip involving stops at several locations, then return to headquarters the same day. Hundreds or thousands of dollars can be saved on hotel rooms, rental cars, meals and other expenses that would be needed to make the same trip over several days via auto, train or airline transport.

    Industry Studies

    Business Aviation: An Enterprise Value Perspective – Small and Medium Size Enterprises

    This study, conducted by NEXA Advisors, examined whether the use of business aircraft provided benefits to small and medium businesses, measured in terms of shareholder and enterprise value. NEXA Advisors applied the same methodologies in its first volume “Business Aviation: An Enterprise Value Perspective,” published in 2009. With this study, NEXA has extended its sample size to examine small and medium enterprises that used business aviation to better compete and grow their businesses. The analysis showed that small and medium companies in America that used business aviation consistently outperformed nonusers.

    If you would like access to the study, email me at

    This article was originally published by Western Aviation on April 27, 2021.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Strategic Thinking When Acquiring or Selling An Aircraft see more

    In this podcast, NAFA member, Rene Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, discusses with NAFA member, Tony Kioussis, President and CEO of Asset Insight, LLC, several of the key topics connected with acquiring or selling an aircraft.

    René Bangelsdorf discusses aircraft acquisition and disposition strategies, and her firm’s comprehensive suite of Business Aviation services: In-Depth Research, Marketing & Sales, Acquisitions, and Advisory Services.

    Topics covered include: 

    • Determining the best aircraft to meet a first-time buyer’s private air transportation requirements. 
    • Points to ponder in determining whether to acquire a new, versus a pre-owned aircraft. 
    • The benefits one can secure by utilizing an aircraft Acquisition Consultant and/or a Sales Broker. 
    • Factors to consider when deriving the Offer Price for an aircraft. 
    • The challenges of refurbishing or upgrading an in-service aircraft prior to its acquisition. 
    • The pre-purchase inspection – how much scrutiny is enough. 
    • The costs and benefits associated with Professional Aircraft Management. 
    • Chartering your aircraft – does it really reduce your operating cost? 
    • Determining the optimum time to replace your aircraft. 
    • Optimizing the value, and marketability, of the asset at the time of sale.

    About René Banglesdorf

    René is co-founder and CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, an Austin, TX-based company that buys, sells and leases corporate aircraft worldwide. She applies a background in business journalism and marketing from several industries to the company she started in 2008. Charlie Bravo works with government entities, non-profits, corporations both large and small, and private individuals, and has closed deals in more than 40 different countries ranging from hundreds of thousands to $30m+. 

    René is part of an elite group—only 4-6% of high-level aviation positions are held by women in North America and Europe. René serves as a spokesperson for Business Aviation and women in aviation in speaking and press appearances all over the world. René serves on the Advisory Board of the International Aviation Women’s Association. In 2018, she held organized and emceed the IAWA Inaugural GA Women’s Leadership Forum, with more than 100 female leaders from the industry in attendance—and in 2020, took that same forum virtual. 

    In 2020, René was selected by US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to join 29 other women on the DOT’s Women in Aviation Advisory Board. The purpose of the WIAAB is to develop strategies and recommendations that would encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation. The WIAAB will assess education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women in the aviation industry and make recommendations to the President and Congress. 

    René is an active member of the National Business Aircraft Association and the National Air Transportation Association. She serves as an advisor to the Ohio University Department of Management and Strategic Leadership. René also sits on the advisory board of Wingform, an aircraft transaction software company. 

    In November 2019, René was named as a Business Accelerator Coach for Michael Hyatt & Co, one of the fast growing and most widely recognized leadership training companies in North America. Along with the rest of the team, René helps overwhelmed, successful leaders get the focus they need to win at work and succeed at life. 

    To satisfy her passion for writing, René is an editorial contributor to several aviation business publications. Her latest book, Stand Up: How to Flourish When the Odds are Stacked Against You (April 2019) is available on Amazon, or anywhere books are sold. René also hosts a podcast called Defying the Status Quo, on which she interviews women who are crushing it in male-dominated industries. She launched a video podcast with AvBuyer in April 2019 interviewing corporate jet pilots about the planes they fly and their adventures in aviation. View the latest Insiders Guides with René Banglesdorf video series.

    To read a transcript of this podcast, click here.

    To listen to the podcast, click here.

    This podcast was published by Asset Insight. LLC.

     April 14, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    COVID-19 Opened the Door to Private Jet Ownership see more

    NAFA member, PNC Aviation Finance, discusses how business travelers and some individuals have bumped up against the limits of charter and fractional private aircraft services and are now pivoting to ownership.

    It's no secret that 2020 changed the landscape of the aviation industry. According to data from the Los Angeles Times[1], 2020 forecasts show that this will be the worst year in the history of commercial aviation with the industry poised to post a net loss of $84.3 billion. Consumer air travel revenue is expected to drop from $876 billion in 2019 to $434 billion in 2020. Initially many individuals considered charter services or fractional shares like JetLinx and NetJets but quickly ran up against usage limits and health concerns as the planes are still shared. As a result, more people are considering direct ownership. Airline brokers have noticed a significant uptick in business. "We're on pace to have one of our best years ever," says David G. Coleman, of Duncan Aviation a private aircraft sales, brokerage and consultancy.[2]

    Key Insights

    • Charter and fractional shares can lower risk compared to commercial airlines but they aren't risk free. Private ownership provides end-to-end control of cleaning, crew health and safety checks as well as limited use of the aircraft.

    • Aviation finance is a fragmented industry. It's important to engage veteran professionals who understand aircraft mechanics as well as financing options.

    • Individuals interested in owning an aircraft should have a clear understanding of the aircraft they are purchasing and be prepared to provide that information to lenders as well. Leasing is also an option, but individuals will want to make sure they've planned for any additional costs and are also well versed in the terms of their lease.

    Charter and Timeshare Services See a Short-term Boost

    While surging in popularity, many corporate travelers are realizing that chartered and shared services only offer limited flexibility in terms of schedule and personal safety standards. "What we're talking about is still a form of mass transit," says Jeff Wieand of Boston Jet Search, a private aircraft broker and consultancy.[3]"There are fewer people involved but the questions remain the same - are they cleaning the plane in between? When was the staff tested? Individuals in these kinds of arrangements don't have much control over the aircraft or the process. The lack of control was a driver toward ownership before the pandemic and more so now."

    Charter and timeshare services also require passengers to book in advance just like conventional travel, which may result in a bit of jostling if your travel schedule doesn't already line up with that of the service provider. While this may not matter much during a normal week, scheduling issues could become especially acute during high travel periods like around the holidays or ahead of virus lockdowns when many people are trying to get to more remote locations.

    Pivot to Ownership

    Historically, owning an aircraft was an all-cash process with a naturally limited audience. But as access to capital has improved, aircraft costs have come down and interest rates have remained low, aircraft ownership is possible for more people.

    "To my mind, what has happened with the pandemic really accelerated trends that were already happening in the private aircraft market. As major carriers continue to cut back on services, if you're someone who needs to be on the road a lot it's a problem," says Coleman. "What we're really in the business of is giving people their time back. And now, with growing health concerns we're helping them find an option that eliminates more of the risk."

    Navigating the Private Aircraft Marketplace

    There is a robust secondary sales market within aircraft that allows people to invest in pre-owned planes that are in working condition and on established maintenance programs that lenders are willing to underwrite. New planes are also available and financeable.

    For those that are new to ownership, both Coleman and Wieand suggest that it's important to work closely with veteran aviation professionals that can correctly assess the plane itself and the financing options.

    "This isn't like buying a car or a house where you can just compare across and get a sense for what things generally cost," explains Coleman. "You really need to understand the life of the aircraft in terms of where it is coming from, the state of the equipment, and maintenance schedules. And, you have to understand that not every bank is going to finance so you're going to want to engage with brokers and financing almost before you choose the plane so that people are on the same page early."

    Avoid Common Leasing and Owning Aircraft Pitfalls

    For those that want to invest in aircraft ownership, they can choose to lease their own planes or buy them outright. The financing considerations for both options differ.

    Leasing requires careful financing. With a lease, it's important for individuals to understand that they are going to be locked into an aircraft for a period of time even if problems with the aircraft arise. Wieand suggests that it's important to consider the potential for those additional costs when determining whether a lease makes the most sense. A close read of the lease terms is also a good way to ensure that there aren't any surprises if problems arise or if someone needs to break the lease for any reason.

    Focus on alignment first and financing second when taking out a loan. Taking out a loan to cover the cost of an aircraft can remove some obstacles like being locked into a lease period, but individuals will make sure that they are working with well respected financing teams that are familiar with these kinds of transactions. Coleman notes that if you're financing before you buy, lenders will typically want to be clear on the results of a pre-buy inspection so that there aren't any discrepancies with aircraft components or functionality. Appraisals and inspections can vary widely provider to provider so potential owners can avoid problems by working with appraisers and inspection teams that the lender is already familiar with and trusts. Coleman adds that some lenders will not finance specific types of planes so it is important to make sure that individuals align their desires with a finance team that is willing to support them.

    "I have seen people get into situations where they find out that they can't get the financing they were counting on because they didn't do the pre-work," Coleman says. "A seasoned aviation finance team will work closely with you on finding solutions but it's best when they are included early on in the process."

    Ready to Help

    PNC Aviation Finance offers knowledgeable financing solutions to make private aircraft ownership possible and affordable.

    We offer custom-tailored financing packages based on business needs and circumstances. Our experienced aviation finance team understands and has extensive knowledge regarding private aircraft ownership requirements, FAA, insurance, operating leases, etc.

    We can help you look at the implications of each option and help you decide on the best option for you or your business.

    Learn how PNC Aviation Finance can help you fly higher by visiting

    1. Los Angeles Times (July 10, 2020) The rich are flying again -- in the comfort of their private jets -
    2. CEO David G. Coleman, Duncan Aviation (November 2020) Interview
    3. CEO Jeff Wieand, Boston Jet Search (November 2020) Interview

    This article was originally published by PNC Aviation Finance on December 17, 2020.

     February 04, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    AINsight: How Dry Leases Can Prevent Illegal Charter see more

    NAFA member, David G. Mayer, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, discusses how dry leases can prevent illegal charter.

    Is it possible that a subtle shift is occurring away from the pervasive and persistent menace of illegal charter operations? Anecdotally, and perhaps for me just hopefully, I am seeing more aircraft owners, operators, lessees, and lessors asking whether they need some type of leasing or other structure to avoid FAA scrutiny or personal liability.

    Leasing enables a lessee, which may be an individual or entity (person), to lawfully “operate” and thereby exercise “operational control” over an aircraft under the FARs. Only one person has operational control. Leasing offers a broad array of benefits and structures to direct cash flow from lessees to lessors and vendors, manage risk, minimize certain taxes, share aircraft use and cost among unrelated and affiliated parties, and facilitate commercial operations under FAR Part 135.

    But leasing is not an incidental subject, as explained in the General Aviation Dry Leasing Guide developed by NBAA and several other aviation alphabet groups. This 17-page publication informs aircraft buyers, owners, lessors, lessees, lenders, brokers, lawyers, and other advisors about the flexibility, utility, regulatory aspects, and complexity of leasing.

    Key FAA Leases: Dry and Wet

    It is essential first to understand that a “lease” under the Uniform Commercial Code in part means a transfer by a “lessor” to a “lessee” of the right to possession and use of an aircraft for a term in return for consideration—usually hourly, fixed, and/or variable rent payments.

    In contrast, a true lease might exist when the lessor retains residual value risk—the remaining value of the aircraft at the end of the lease term. Sellers do not take this risk. Finally, a charter is not a lease; it is a service, with no change of aircraft possession.

    Under FAR 91.23, “a lease means any agreement by a person to furnish an aircraft to another person for “compensation or hire, with or without flight crewmembers, that is not a contract of conditional sale.” In this context, the FAA identifies two extremely important categories of leases in Order 8900.1: dry leases and wet leases.

    Dry lease refers to an aircraft transaction in which the lessor provides the aircraft, the lessee independently supplies the crewmembers, and the lessee retains operational control of the flight. FAR 1.1 defines a core regulatory concept of operational control with respect to a flight as “the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting, or terminating a flight.”

    Illegal or unsafe operations may occur when leases or other contracts do not specify who is responsible for operational control of the aircraft and in other circumstances. As such, the FAA focuses on operational control in assessing whether a flight operation is an illegal charter or valid Part 91 operation.

    Operational control under Part 91 does not mean the traveler must fly the aircraft personally. An aircraft owner or lessee typically delegates that responsibility to pilots under Part 91 or charter operator under Part 135. I sometimes refer to the one person that exercises operational control as having the liability target on the person’s back.

    For example, in one of the most common uses of dry leases, an owner enters into a dry lease between a limited liability company (LLC), as the single-purpose aircraft owner entity, to put operational control of flight operations into the hands of one person as the lessee in compliance with Part 91.

    A major business enterprise for profit may be an appropriate dry lessee if the aircraft serves the business of the enterprise whose operations generate substantially more revenue than the operating costs of the aircraft. The LLC owner/member may also agree to an “exclusive dry lease,” with one lessee/operator or “non-exclusive leases” with multiple aircraft lessees/operators under their separate non-exclusive leases.

    The finance world routinely uses exclusive dry leases of various types to enable a lessor to buy an aircraft and lease it to a lessee without crew under a long-term lease. Here, the lessee similarly supplies the crew and assumes all obligations under the lease for the care, custody, and control of the aircraft during the term, including for its maintenance, crewing, operations, cost payments, insurance, and taxes.

    Despite the availability of leasing, new and current aircraft owners still frequently violate the FARs when their LLCs operate the aircraft but have no business other than to own and operate their aircraft, converting the LLCs into illegal “flight department companies.” Such a single-purpose LLC cannot lawfully conduct these operations, share the aircraft for any compensation (anything of value), or offer the aircraft for hire to others unless the LLC obtains an air carrier certificate under Part 119 and operates the aircraft under Part 135. It is quite feasible to use non-exclusive or exclusive dry leases to rectify or avoid these violations.

    In contrast to a dry lease, the FAA defines a wet lease in FAR 110.2 as an aircraft lease whereby the lessor provides both an entire aircraft and at least one crewmember to a lessee. The lessor retains operational control of the flight, unlike a dry lease where the dry lessee supplies its own crew, directs many aspects of flight operations, and retains operational control.

    Another significant distinction exists between Part 91 private operations and Part 135 commercial operations conducted by the air carrier that influences lease structuring. The air carrier (charterer) has the liability target on its back instead of the person that would otherwise exercise operational control under Part 91. This feature appeals to risk-averse Part 91 lessees or owners that want to mitigate the risk of liability for accidents involving their aircraft under their operational control of the aircraft.

    When the Rubber Hits the Runway

    When the conduct of flights blurs the line in determining whether one lessee/passenger has operational control or the lessor/aircraft provider has operational control under Part 91, illegal charter operations may be occurring. Lessees normally must understand and accept operational control and related obligations.

    Although the FAA has no specific criteria to determine when Part 91 dry leases morph into illegal wet leases, lessees should be wary of lessors that offer leases to multiple unrelated parties, induce the parties to hire the lessor’s pilots, and usurp the lessee’s independence in exercising operational control.

    Importantly, the lease parties of large civil aircraft (over 12,500 pounds mtow) must comply with FAR 91.23, the Truth-in-Leasing rules. These rules, which protect and inform lessees, require the filing with the FAA of a copy of the lease within 24 hours of signing and notice to the local FAA Flight Standards office at least 48 hours before the first flight under the lease.


    There is no excuse for operating an aircraft as an illegal charter, especially when leasing aircraft provides a reasonable way to transfer rights to lessees to possess and use an aircraft under the lessee’s operational control. With the guidance of knowledgeable aviation counsel, individuals and entities can operate safely, lawfully, and knowledgeably under the FARs using leases and other related documentation that will survive FAA scrutiny.

    This article was originally published on AINonline on January 15, 2021.


     January 27, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Insights From An FAA Illegal Charter Investigation see more

    NAFA member, Greg Reigel, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, shares insights from an FAA illegal charter investigation. 

    Recent FAA press releases have publicized the enforcement actions the agency is taking against those involved in illegal charter.  However, what is not publicized is how the FAA is investigating these cases.  A recent case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana provides an interesting glimpse into one such investigation.

    The Case

    In Elwell v. Bade et al., the FAA received complaints regarding alleged illegal charter activity.  In response, the FAA opened what has turned out to be a six year investigation.

    During its investigation, the FAA issued three sets of subpoenas over a three year period.  The last set asked for production of all documents related to agreements associated with use, ownership, and/or leasehold interest in certain aircraft under investigation for a specified period of time.  The recipients of the subpoenas (the “Respondents”) objected and refused to produce any documents.

    The FAA filed a petition with the U.S. District Court requesting enforcement of the subpoenas.  The Respondents objected to the subpoena by filing a motion to quash the subpoenas.  The Court refused to quash the FAA’s administrative subpoenas and ordered their enforcement.

    The Court concluded that “(a) the matter under investigation is within the authority of the issuing agency, (b) the information sought is reasonably relevant to that inquiry, and (c) the requests are not too indefinite.” However, the Court’s analysis and rationale also provide insight into some of the things the FAA can do, and when it can do them, in an illegal charter investigation.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    The FAA Has Authority To Issue Subpoenas In Connection With An Investigation

    Under 49 U.S.C. § 46101(a), the FAA may investigate violations as long as the agency has “reasonable grounds.”  Neither an enforcement action nor a lawsuit is necessary.  When a court reviews an agency’s subpoena requests, the court must make sure the agency does not exceed its authority.  And the threshold for the relevance of the documents/information requested by the administrative subpoenas is relatively low. The court must also confirm that the requests are not for an illegitimate purpose.

    In illegal charter investigations such as the Bade case, the FAA typically asks for

    • aircraft flight logs
    • flight summaries
    • aircraft lease agreements
    • operating agreements
    • interchange agreements
    • pilot services agreements
    • pilot payrolls
    • operating invoices
    • receipts etc.

    And, as in Bade, a court will likely hold that such requests are proper and do not exceed the FAA’s authority.

    Stale Complaint Rules Do Not Bar Subpoenas During An Investigation

    As you may know, stale complaint rules act to bar the FAA from acting in certain situations after a period of time.  For example, in certificate actions heard before a National Transportation Safety Board Administrative Law Judge, 49 C.F.R. § 821.33 may prevent the FAA from acting if it does not initiate the case within six months of advising the respondent of the reasons for the proposed action.  Similarly, in a civil penalty case, a case may be dismissed under 14 C.F.R Part 13.208(d) if the FAA does not initiate action within two years.

    However, these stale complaint rules do not apply to ongoing investigations where no action has been initiated.  According to the Bade court, the “FAA may conduct an investigation to assure itself that its regulations are being followed, regardless if it ultimately determines civil enforcement or formal charges are not warranted.”

    Similarly, the FAA may investigate a target who is “engaged in a continuing violation of [FAA’s] safety regulations.”  In Bade, the FAA argued it was not investigating stale claims.  Rather, it believed the respondents were engaged in continuing violations where “the statute of limitations restarts every day.”  And the Court agreed.

    (Interestingly, the Court did not address whether this analysis, and its decision, would have changed if the aircraft involved had been sold and/or the flight operations had ceased.  As a result, it is unclear whether the investigation would have been moot if applicable stale complaint rules prohibited enforcement action.)

    The FAA Does Not Have To Tell The Target Of An Investigation About Subpoenas

    Under 49 U.S.C. § 46104(c), an agency must only give notice to “the opposing party or the attorney of record of that party.”  However, an investigation has no “record.” As a result, since the target of the investigation is not the one being deposed nor is counsel to those targets being deposed, the target does not have a statutory right to receive notice of third-party depositions.

    The Bade court also noted that “’failing to receive notice of one or more depositions does not prove that the FAA’s investigation is a sham,’ and has ‘nothing to do with the enforceability of the Subpoenas or the motive of the FAA in conducting this investigation.’”

    So, potential respondents do not get to participate at third-party depositions or receive copies of documents produced in response to subpoenas. This certainly makes defending against an illegal charter investigation a more difficult task.

    The FAA’s Order 2150.3C Is Only “Guidance”

    In Bade the Respondents argued that the FAA had not followed its own policies when conducting the investigation.  Specifically, they argued the FAA failed to follow FAA Order 2150.3 – FAA’s Compliance and Enforcement Program. However, the Court rejected the argument.  It observed that Order 2150.3 is not regulatory.

    Rather, Order 2150.3 merely provides guidelines to FAA personnel for performing their duties. Thus, the Court concluded that the FAA’s failure to strictly adhere to Order 2150.3’s “guidance” did not negate its authority to investigate. Nor did it mean the FAA was pursuing the investigation for an improper purpose.


    Illegal charter is a high priority for the FAA at the moment, and will be for the foreseeable future.  As a result, the agency will continue to investigate complaints of illegal charter.  It is important to understand how the FAA conducts these investigations and the extent of its authority.

    And it is imperative for aircraft owner or operator who is the target of an illegal charter investigation to know its rights. If you believe you are the target of an illegal charter investigation, contact us now so we can help you navigate the investigation and protect your rights.

    This article was originally published by Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP on June 23, 2020.  

     January 25, 2021
  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    How to Rent a Private Jet: Everything You Need to Know About Private Jet Charter Services see more

    NAFA member, H. Lee Rohde, III, President & CEO of Essex Aviation, shares what you need to know about private jet charter services.

    Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just rent a jet? Well, with private jet charter services, you can.

    Private aircraft charter is an on-demand service that enables passengers to select the aircraft model that most closely meets their travel needs and book a flight in much the same way they’d book a seat on a commercial flight.

    Read on to explore private aircraft charter options, expenses, safety considerations and more.

    Table of Contents

    Different Types of Private Jet Charter Services

    Private jet charter services typically fall into one of two broad categories: private jets for business and private jets for leisure.

    Private aircraft charter is an attractive option to businesses because it enables them to:

    • Arrange flights to multiple cities within a single day according to your schedule, rather than a commercial airline’s
    • Bypass long check-in and security lines by boarding through private terminals
    • Arrive on-time to important meetings by flying to an airport closer to their final destination
    • Access airports often having less ground and air traffic, thereby reducing the potential for delays
    • Transport larger groups at a potentially lower overall cost than commercial airfare
    • Avoid costly downtime associated with commercial flight delays, layovers and connecting flights
    • Support in-flight productivity by eliminating unnecessary distractions and increasing overall travel efficiency
    • Conduct onboard business meetings without having to worry about other passengers listening in on sensitive conversations
    • Enable team members to travel in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere so that they arrive to their final destination refreshed and prepared

    Private air charter is similarly appealing to those who fly primarily for leisure purposes. Private aviation enables such individuals to effectively extend their holiday experience by flying aboard aircraft appointed with the finest luxury amenities, including full-service kitchens, state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment systems and dedicated bedrooms. Private terminals at commercial airports offer a secure, comfortable and relaxed environment, far from the hustle and bustle of the main commercial airport concourse. Local, non-commercially serviced airports enable travelers to arrive closer to their final destination, so they can start their holiday that much sooner. Ultimately, private jet charter can make even the longest haul flightfeel like an escape.

    Read the full article here

    This article was originally published by Essex Aviation in October 2020.

     January 20, 2021