Private Aviation 101
Questions and answers about the world of private aviation
©Copyright 2006 NetJets Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
NetJets® has received countless aviation-related questions from our customers and prospects throughout the forty-plus years we have been flying. Questions range from “What was that sound” to “How do pilots know how to find my destination” to something as basic as “How does an aircraft fly.” Whether you currently fly privately or are considering flying privately for the first time, there is so much you can learn about private aviation. Private Aviation 101 is designed to educate you on the basics of aviation and explain how NetJets uniquely handles certain aviation matters of importance. It explores questions relating to the entire flight experience from preflight to landing and everything in between. For some of you, this will provide interesting facts you can share with your friends, for others it will add to your flight experience, and for others still it may be the impetus for you to consider flying privately for the first time. No matter what your situation, we hope you enjoy the ride – courtesy of NetJets.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFLIGHT INSIDE THE FLIGHT DECK INSIDE THE CABIN BEFORE DEPARTURE FLIGHT BASICS AVIATION WEATHER TAKEOFF AND CLIMB CRUISE 3 7 9 12 16 21 24 28
DESCENT LANDING CONCLUSION
32 34 36
If you have flown commercially or just chartered a private aircraft occassionally, fractional jet ownership and the private aviation industry as a whole may seem very different to you. When flying privately, you have many more options when compared to flying commercially. Private aviation gives you the flexibility to choose airports closer to your final destinations, set your departure time based on your schedule, and choose your meals based on what you like.
What happens behind the scenes before my flight?
To safely complete a flight, many aviation professionals and specialists must be involved. Once a flight is booked and all details are confirmed with your private aviation provider, your request is typically reviewed by a flight dispatcher and a flight plan will be created. Flight plans for each individual flight are filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so the flight will be under the supervision of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. Flight plans generally include basic information such as departure and arrival points, estimated flight time, alternate airports in case of bad weather, type of flight (instrument flight rules or visual flight rules), pilot's name, and number of passengers. The dispatcher is responsible for considering and analyzing each of these items when creating the flight plan to ensure a safe and comfortable flight. These topics will be discussed in greater detail throughout this book. NETJETS SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE – To support every flight, NetJets utilizes state-ofthe-art operations centers in both the United States and Europe. Every flight goes through a rigorous series of safety checks. Chief Pilots assigned to a specific aircraft type oversee every flight within that aircraft type to ensure that our strict operating standards are met. NetJets also employs FAA-certified flight dispatchers, full-time licensed meteorologists, and many other aviation specialists to ensure the safety and comfort of every flight. Finally, our dual-release system requires that no aircraft take off until the Pilot-in-Command and an FAA-licensed flight dispatcher double-check all aspects of the flight and agree that the flight can be completed safely.
What does it take to become a private jet pilot?
Pilots must complete hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of schooling and flight training before they can fly complex aircraft such as modern private jets. Many private jet pilots obtain their initial training through aviation schools, universities, or the military. After the initial training, pilots usually gain additional flight experience by working as flight instructors, flying cargo planes or by serving as co-pilots. After gaining 1,500 hours flight experience, most pilots begin the process of obtaining the highest level of pilot license available – an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license.
NETJETS PILOT REQUIREMENTS – NetJets stringent requirements dictate that each of our pilots must have a minimum of 2,500 hours of flight experience, including 500 hours at the controls of multi-engine aircraft and 250 hours flying on instruments. In addition, NetJets requires an Airline Transport Pilot license and first-class medical certificate. The average pilot hired by NetJets has over 7,000 hours of flying experience at the time of hire. NetJets also requires each pilot to have an FAAissued type rating for the jet type they fly. A type rating is an FAA-issued endorsement in addition to the pilot’s license which allows a pilot to be the pilot-in-command of a specific type of jet aircraft.
Can pilots fly more than one type of aircraft?
Some aircraft providers allow their pilots to fly several different aircraft types. This means that each time they operate a different aircraft type, they must readjust and adapt to the different equipment and safety features from aircraft to aircraft. NETJETS PILOTS ONLY FLY ONE AIRCRAFT TYPE – All NetJets pilots are required to fly only one aircraft type. We have determined that the safest practice is for each pilot to fly only one aircraft type because of the differences in equipment and safety procedures from aircraft to aircraft. Additionally, each NetJets pilot is type rated in the aircraft type they are assigned to, meaning they are FAA-qualified to be a captain in that aircraft type.
What is a flight simulator and how does it help with pilot training?
A flight simulator is a highly advanced training device used by pilots to practice flying in conditions that would be too dangerous or impractical to duplicate in real life. Experiences in the most advanced type of simulator (full-motion flight simulators) are extremely realistic and can be designed to duplicate any possible real life situation. Training in a full-motion flight simulator ensures that the pilots are prepared to handle any situation that may occur during a real flight. NETJETS TRAINING – The training never stops for a NetJets pilot. In addition to classroom training and in flight training, NetJets pilots attend simulator training twice per year using only the highest level of full-motion flight simulators available, which cost an average of $18-$22 million each.
Are all private jets basically the same?
Private jets are designed and built for a wide variety of missions. They range from light cabin jets which usually seat a maximum of seven passengers to large cabin jets seating up to 18 passengers. Some aircraft types are perfectly suited for shorter flights such as New York to South Florida or Los Angeles to Seattle, while others are designed to connect the continents with non-stop capability on flights such as San Francisco to Tokyo or New York to Moscow. In addition, some private jets are designed for high speed flight while others are designed to operate at small airports with short runways. There are nearly 50 different types of private jets in production today, and each has its own unique set of characteristics and capabilities. NETJETS FLEET – The NetJets fleet currently includes 14 types of private jets ranging from light cabin jets to large cabin jets. The diversity of the NetJets fleet gives our Owners the flexibility to purchase a share in the aircraft type that best suits their typical travel profile. All NetJets Owners are able to request an aircraft type for a particular mission that is different than the type they own. Downgrades are guaranteed. Upgrades are subject to availability.
What is a Fixed Base Operator (FBO)?
Most private aircraft depart from and arrive at Fixed Base Operators (FBOs). An FBO is a service center at an airport that offers services including aircraft fueling, cabin supplies, and aircraft maintenance. FBOs are generally located away from the main commercial airline terminals and offer a much less congested and hassle-free way to begin and end your flights. FBOs typically include a passenger lounge, crew lounge, and sometimes even restaurants and catering suppliers. NETJETS ONSITE REPRESENTATION – NetJets staffs our most popular destination FBOs with onsite representatives to ensure our Owners’ travel always occurs as smoothly as possible. In addition, NetJets has invested in private FBOs and lounges reserved exclusively for NetJets Owners at some of our most popular airports.
How can aircraft maintenance affect my flight?
All aircraft have a schedule for required maintenance, and operators work to complete this scheduled maintenance during times that will least affect their customers. However, as with all complex machinery, there are instances when unscheduled maintenance events occur on aircraft. These unscheduled maintenance events may lead to flight delays as the operator works to fix the problem or bring in a replacement aircraft to complete the flight. Depending on the size of an operator’s fleet, their maintenance department’s ability to respond to occurrences in real time, and the severity of the maintenance issue, delays could be anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. NETJETS MAINTENANCE – With access to over 600 jets combined with our maintenance expertise, NetJets is well-equipped to quickly respond to any maintenance event that may occur. Our fleet size allows us to keep our jets positioned throughout the U.S. and the world, ensuring that, if a maintenance event should occur, we are able to respond quickly and provide another nearby jet to complete your flight. The NetJets maintenance team includes more than 230 FAA-licensed aircraft technicians who maintain our aircraft to the highest level possible. In addition, the aircraft manufacturers have created specialized response teams dedicated to supporting NetJets aircraft. These teams are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and are prepared to respond to any type of maintenance issue.
INSIDE THE FLIGHT DECK
Modern business jets have flight decks (cockpits) outfitted with the most advanced equipment available. To a casual traveler who may be expecting a cockpit full of dials, switches and knobs, the modern private jet flight deck may appear to be a scene out of a futuristic movie. The next time you fly, be sure to take a look up front and see what type of avionics are on the aircraft.
What types of instruments are found in the flight deck?
The flight deck or cockpit is the area of the aircraft where the pilots manage the flight. The flight deck includes all of the instruments the pilots need to navigate the aircraft, communicate with air traffic control, and monitor the aircraft’s systems. Most modern private jets use advanced and state-of-the-art technology known as a “glass” cockpit. Glass flight decks are a series of screens that display multiple sets of information and are much easier to read and use than the former round dial instruments. Glass cockpits consist of Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and Multi-function Displays (MFDs). • PFDs provide flight instrumentation and navigation information to each pilot such as airspeed, altitude and heading. • MFDs provide other information including engine instrumentation, weather radar, and safety instruments such as Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).
NETJETS SAFETY – At NetJets, safety starts before a new jet rolls into our hangar. As the world’s largest buyer of private jets, we require manufacturers to meet our standards for design and maintenance. Each new jet comes equipped with a state-of-the-art cockpit, including: Traffic Alert & Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS and TCAS II) are designed to help prevent mid-air collisions and near-collisions. TCAS II is a more advanced version that supplies the pilots with audible instructions on how to avoid traffic. Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) is a system that helps the pilots avoid flying into rising terrain. The system monitors trends in the aircraft’s movement and alerts the flight crew if the aircraft’s current flight trend may bring it in close proximity to mountains or other rising terrain.
Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS) is a system that is used when the pilots encounter smoke in the cockpit. EVAS provides a clear space of air around the primary flight instruments, allowing the pilots to see the instruments even if extremely thick smoke is present.
What type of flight instruments are on an aircraft?
Since an aircraft operates in a three dimensional atmosphere, the pilot needs several special instruments to obtain the necessary flight information in order to conduct a safe flight. • The pitot-static instruments operate on the principle of pressure differential to provide speed, rate of climb or descent, and altitude. These instruments include: airspeed indicator, altimeter, and vertical speed indicator. • The gyroscopic instruments use gyroscopic principles to provide the aircraft’s rate of turn, attitude (which displays the position of the aircraft in space) and heading (which displays the direction in which the aircraft is flying). These instruments include: turn coordinator, attitude indicator, and heading indicator.
INSIDE THE CABIN
Modern private jets combine unmatched comfort with many of the latest communication and entertainment offerings. Private jets are typically configured to seat between six and 18 passengers, and many aircraft include leather seats (many of which recline to a fully flat position for sleeping); fully enclosed lavatories; individual video monitors with DVD, VHS or even satellite television capabilities; satellite radio; in flight telephones; data ports for email and internet access; full galleys and much more. The private jet can truly be thought of as an “office in the sky.” MAYO CLINIC EXECUTIVE TRAVEL RESPONSE – All NetJets Owners have access to worldclass medical assistance from Mayo Clinic when they are in flight and on the ground. All NetJets pilots have the ability to connect directly with Mayo Clinic via a dedicated telephone line in the event of an in flight medical emergency. In addition, all NetJets aircraft carry Mayo Clinic-designed emergency medical kits with supplies that include an automatic external defibrillator. All NetJets pilots and flight attendants are trained to use these kits, as well as how to recognize and respond to common aviation medical emergencies. And on the ground, “Ask Mayo Clinic” provides Owners with 24-hour access to Mayo Clinic medical professionals for expert medical information and assistance from anywhere in the world.
How is food prepared on a private jet?
Large private jets are equipped with full galleys that allow a flight attendant to prepare basically any type of meal, including hot meals, as long as it is requested in advance. For smaller jets, a variety of colder fare from catering companies is available to passengers. Generally, the aircraft will be permanently stocked with snacks, water, coffee, tea, soda, and alcoholic beverages. NETJETS CATERING – We work with premier aviation caterers around the world to provide our Owners with top quality meals during their flight. NetJets Owners complete an Owner Profile which details their preferences regarding food, beverages, music, and movies so the aircraft is stocked with the amenities of their choice for each flight. Your catering needs can be customized for each flight.
Why do my ears “pop” when I’m flying?
Modern private jets have pressurized cabins to allow their passengers to breathe normally at high altitudes. Jets are designed to fly at these altitudes to maximize their speed, range, and fuel efficiency, and also to fly above weather and turbulence. One side effect of pressurization is that there may be a temporary pressure differential between the air in your ears and the air in the aircraft’s cabin. Your ears “pop” when the pressure is equalized.
Can my pet travel with me?
Yes. Many people choose to fly privately because it allows them the opportunity to bring their pets in the cabin. Some private jet operators allow pets in the cabin as long as they are restrained for takeoff and landing. If your pet is small or an anxious flier, it is advisable to keep the pet in a pet carrier for the duration of the flight. Larger dogs must occupy their own seat and be secured with a seat belt or special dog harness during takeoff and landing.
Boarding a private jet is a very different experience than boarding a commercial aircraft. Rather than waiting in line for your seat row to be called, walking down a jet bridge and waiting for other passengers to be seated before you can get to your seat, boarding a private jet is a comfortable and pleasurable experience. Generally, one of the pilots greets the passenger(s) in the passenger lounge of the FBO, verifies their identification, and informs them that the aircraft is ready for boarding. Then, the pilot takes the luggage and loads it into the baggage compartment of the aircraft while the passengers walk up the stairs and into the aircraft. Some private jets have baggage compartments which are accessible in flight should the need arise. Once the passengers are onboard, the flight crew gives a safety overview and then the aircraft begins to taxi to the runway. For many people, this sequence of events is commonplace, but there are many extremely intricate details that must be completed for an aircraft to depart.
What do the pilots do immediately before a flight?
Before the aircraft departs, the pilots are required to do a preflight check to make sure the aircraft is in sound working condition. The pilots follow a special checklist that includes close inspection of the aircraft systems and the main components of the aircraft. Only after the checklist is completed and the flight crew is satisfied that all systems are in proper working condition is the flight cleared to depart.
Do all airports have control towers?
Contrary to popular belief, the large majority of airports throughout the U.S. do not have control towers. Generally, only large airports frequented by heavy commercial airline traffic and the busier general aviation airports have control towers operating for at least a portion of the day. Many of the airports that are frequented by private jets are much less busy than the airports commercial airlines use and therefore do not require a control tower. • Controlled airports have an operating control tower. All aircraft in the vicinity and on the ground at controlled airports must follow instructions provided by the Air Traffic Controller. • Uncontrolled airports require the pilots to self-announce their intentions to other pilots in the airport vicinity using a radio. The pilots are also responsible for determining the active runway and how to enter and exit the traffic pattern by obeying established FAA regulations.
How many runways do airports have?
Generally, the busier the airport, the more runways it will have. Since aircraft are affected by winds during takeoff and landing, runways are usually built in the direction of the prevailing winds. Some airports have multiple runways aligned in different directions to take advantage of shifts in wind.
What are airport identifiers?
Most airports have both a three and four letter identifier which is a unique code used to identify each airport. Airlines typically use the three letter codes while most general aviation operators use the four letter codes. For U.S. airports, the four letter code generally consists of the three letter code with the letter “K” added before the three letters. For example, Teterboro’s three-letter identifier is TEB and its four-letter identifier is KTEB.
How are runways named?
Runways have a two number identifier on each end. These numbers are derived from the runway’s direction in degrees relative to magnetic north. For example, if the runway identifier is 09, it means that the aircraft will takeoff or land at a heading of 90 degrees or due east. If the runway identifier is 27, it means the aircraft will takeoff or land at a heading of 270 degrees or due west. The runway identifiers represent the direction in which the aircraft will be heading while taking off on that runway. For this reason, each strip of pavement is actually two runways because each end of the runway has a different name.
Why do we sometimes taxi onto the runway and not move for a while?
Sometimes an aircraft is instructed by an Aircraft Traffic Controller to taxi into position and hold. This usually happens when the airport is experiencing a high level of traffic. For example, an aircraft may have just landed and may still be on the runway from which your aircraft will depart, or the aircraft must wait because another aircraft may have just departed ahead of it. Air Traffic Controllers need to keep a safe distance between all aircraft to minimize the effect of wake turbulence generated by other aircraft. Wake turbulence (also called wingtip vortices) is created when an aircraft is generating lift and can be hazardous to other aircraft flying on the same path and in close proximity.
Can Air Traffic Control delay my flight?
Due to flight demand, the National Airspace System (NAS) frequently runs near the limit of its capacity. When adverse weather occurs, not as many flights can take off and land, further limiting the capacity and leading to delays. Since the NAS is a national system, adverse weather or other adverse conditions in one large metropolitan area may lead to delays at other airports hundreds of miles away because planes cannot stay on schedule. Delays for business aviation users may also be experienced during NAS peak times such as the morning and evening rush hour out of the New York area, holidays, special events (e.g., Super Bowl), and weekend traffic along the East Coast and at Colorado’s ski airports when demand is greater than the capacity to support the number of flights. Flying on private jets allows the use of less congested airports which may reduce potential delays. NETJETS WORKS TO MINIMIZE ATC DELAYS – Private aircraft do not operate on a fixed schedule like the airlines do. Therefore, the demand on the system created by these aircraft is not as predictable. To minimize delays caused by uncertainties, NetJets Owners are encouraged to notify their Owner Services Team as soon as they decide to use an aircraft so that the flight plan may be entered into the system as early as possible. Arriving at the aircraft 15 minutes before the arranged departure time is also important, so that ATC has the highest predictability of where and when the aircraft will be operating in the system and can account for the demand appropriately.
How much luggage can I bring on my flight?
Baggage capacity varies greatly from one type of private jet to another, so it is best to ask your operator this question well in advance of your flight. Most private jets have adequate baggage space to accommodate at least one or two suitcases per passenger, but baggage volume is not the only item to consider. All aircraft have certain limits to the weight of baggage that can be safely carried on board. Additional items such as skis, golf clubs, or hunting and fishing gear may limit the amount of other luggage that can be stored on the aircraft. Again, it is always best to provide your operator with a detailed list of the luggage and other items you plan to bring on a particular flight as far in advance of the flight as possible. This will give them adequate time to determine if all items can be carried on the aircraft or if other arrangements will be needed. Please note that the FAA does not permit hazardous materials onboard.
Flying is so commonplace these days that it is amazing to think that just over 100 years ago, flight in an airplane was simply a dream. Today, for many, flying is a necessity. Many details take place in order for an aircraft to fly safely. This section discusses the basic components of an aircraft and the nuances of flight.
What are the main components of an aircraft?
There are five main components that make up an aircraft: fuselage, empennage, wings, powerplant, and landing gear. • The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft. • The empennage is the tail of the aircraft. It consists of two flight control surfaces: the elevator and the rudder. The elevator pitches or steers up and down and the rudder yaws or steers from right to left. • The wings are the primary lifting surfaces for the aircraft. The airflow over the wing surface generates the vast majority of lifting force necessary for flight. • The powerplant or engine generates the power or thrust for the aircraft. Private jets generally have two engines. • The landing gear allows the aircraft to takeoff, land, and taxi, and also provides shock absorbers to enable smooth landing and takeoff. The newest business jets usually have a type of landing gear known as “trailing link” which allows for smooth landing and taxiing.
How does an aircraft fly?
Flight is made possible by a concept known as pressure differential. Aircraft wings are designed to create a pressure differential between air above and air below the wing. Due to the shape of the wing (known as an airfoil), air flows faster above the wing and slower below the wing creating a difference in pressure known as Bernoulli’s Principle. Bernoulli’s Principle states that as a fluid travels faster (air is technically a fluid), its pressure drops. The lower pressure above the wing and consequent higher pressure below the wing allow an aircraft weighing thousands of pounds to rise like a graceful bird.
What do aviation terms such as lift and drag really mean?
For an aircraft to fly straight and level, four basic aerodynamic forces must be in equilibrium: lift, gravity, thrust, and drag. Lift is simply the force generated by airflow over the wings that acts opposite of gravity which is the force constantly pulling all objects toward the center of the earth. Drag is a negative force which acts against the thrust generated by the aircraft’s engines. Drag can be thought of as the resistance of the air against the forward motion of the aircraft. All portions of the aircraft create drag; it is an unavoidable trait of any object moving through air. When an aircraft is flying straight and level, the opposing forces balance each other; lift equals gravity and thrust equals drag. However, the aircraft uses imbalances between these forces to accelerate, climb and descend.
How does a jet engine work?
There are four basic steps that explain how a jet engine works: Step 1 Air is drawn into the engine through a large fan at the front of the engine. Step 2 Behind the initial fan is a series of smaller rotating blades. These rotating blades compress the air and force it to the combustion chamber. Step 3 Once the air is compressed and enters the chamber, the air and jet fuel mix together and are ignited. The burning gases rapidly expand and are forced out the rear of the engine, producing “thrust.” The thrust pushes the aircraft forward. Step 4 As the exhaust gas exits, it passes through the turbine which spins a drive shaft to provide the rotational motion to the compressor, which in turn draws in more air and the entire sequence is repeated. In addition to feeding air to the compressor, the large fan at the front of the engine feeds air through bypass ducts around the compressor to join the exhaust jetstream in the tailcone. This bypass feature is what distinguishes a turbofan from a turbojet and it allows the turbofan to be much more fuel efficient and quiet.
What are all those moving parts on the wing?
The next time you are on an aircraft, if you are seated over or slightly behind the wings, you will be able to watch the different parts of the wings work especially during takeoff and landing. The main parts of the wings include flaps, slats, spoilers, and ailerons. • Flaps allow the pilot to change the shape of the wing. Flaps can be extended to increase the wing surface area, creating additional lift. The more curved the wing is and the more surface area it has, the more lift it will create. Flaps are most often used during landing and takeoff so the aircraft can fly at a slower speed during an approach or help generate lift during a departure. • Slats are located on the front of the wing and are designed to optimize airflow over the upper surfaces of the wings. Some aircraft do not have this component.
• Spoilers, as the name implies, spoil lift. These devices are attached to the top of the wing and block the airflow on the upper surface of the wing, thus destroying the lifting tendency. Spoilers are used to control sink rate during descent and are also sometimes used for roll control. • Ailerons are movable portions of the wing used for banking and turning. The ailerons are located on the outer section of the wings, and ailerons on both wings work together to turn or roll the aircraft. When an aileron on one side of the aircraft moves down, the aileron on the opposite side of the aircraft moves up. The wing that has the aileron down will experience more lift than the other wing and will rise. This motion rolls the aircraft into a turn.
Why does an aircraft need so many different parts?
Since aircraft operate in three dimensional space while in the air, they need several specialized systems to maneuver. The ailerons, rudder, and elevator allow aircraft to move and turn through the air. Ailerons allow the aircraft to roll from side to side. The rudder allows the aircraft to yaw, or turn from left to right. Finally, the elevator allows the aircraft to pitch the nose up or down. These three systems work together to allow the aircraft to ascend, descend, and turn in order to reach its destination.
There are many types of weather that may impact your flight. A general understanding of these phenomena and how they affect aircraft operations may help your travel plans run smoothly and increase your comfort in flight.
Storms can be hazardous to aircraft due to high winds, hail, and their generally unpredictable nature. Pilots, Flight Dispatchers, and Air Traffic Controllers put a lot of time and effort into trying to avoid storms, which can lead to air traffic delays. When multiple storms develop in a region, the storms block local air routes. Air Traffic Control centers must then begin to delay aircraft trying to fly through the affected areas. These delays have the greatest affect on high traffic areas such as New York and Chicago. Windshear is a sudden and unpredictable change in wind direction and/or velocity mainly caused by thunderstorms. Windshear is most dangerous to aircraft during the critical phases of flight including takeoff, landing, and when the aircraft is flying slowly and low to the ground since it can cause a sudden loss of altitude.
The Atlantic Ocean tropical weather season begins in early June and peaks in the fall. Such weather has the potential to greatly impact the accessibility of affected areas. To ensure the safety of passengers, operators may temporarily suspend operations in areas where tropical storms and hurricanes are forecast to make landfall.
Low cloud base and reduced visibility caused by fog can limit flight operations due to the more stringent operational requirements (instrument flight rules) for operating in these conditions. The morning hours are affected most often, but fog often lasts well into the afternoon. Some of the airports most affected by fog include Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and San Francisco.
Snow and Ice
Snow and ice can be a major challenge for aviation. Snow and ice on the aircraft require de-icing so they do not adversely impact the ability of the plane to fly, and they may cause departure delays. De-icing is required because ice on the wing or other surfaces of an aircraft can lead to increased weight and reduced lift capability. Ice on the wing actually changes the shape of the wing and changes the way the air flows over the wing, which can lead to a dramatic loss of lifting capability. Reduced visibility and cloud bases during snowfall limit the use of some airports, especially those in mountainous areas.
Private jets frequently fly in and out of small airports that have limited facilities and/or equipment. When there is snow on the ground, some of these airports may not have the ability to plow regularly. Snow or slush on the runway may cause dramatic increases in runway length required for landing and takeoff. The adverse weather may lead to runway condition restrictions that result in an unusable runway or airport closure for days at a time.
Whether it’s a major Rocky Mountain snow storm or localized snow shower activity in Jackson Hole, rapidly changing winter weather conditions can cause last minute changes, delays, or diversions due to the low visibility and/or poor runway conditions they may cause.
Jet streams are high speed narrow air currents found at altitudes above 35,000 feet. The jet stream flows from west to the east across North America at speeds typically in excess of 130 mph during winter months. When flying from east to west, these strong headwinds caused by the jet stream may result in turbulence and/or extended flight times that may lead to additional fuel stops. Conversely, flying west to east along the jet stream will reduce the overall flight time. NETJETS METEOROLOGY DEPARTMENT – NetJets maintains a staff of full-time meteorologists. Using state-of-the-art equipment to obtain and interpret data directly from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellites, NetJets meteorologists give our pilots and dispatchers up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. Our pilots and dispatchers use this information to plan the safest and most comfortable routes and to make mid-course corrections when advisable. NetJets meteorologists are constantly monitoring the paths of tropical storms and work with our flight operations group to protect the asset of our Owners and to ensure that all aircraft in the NetJets fleet are moved away from danger. What’s more, the NetJets Meteorology department has received approval from the FAA to become an FAA source of weather information for our pilots, just like an FAA Flight Service Station. There are only a handful of flight departments in the world that have this FAA approval.
TAKEOFF AND CLIMB
For many passengers, takeoff and climb are the most exciting and interesting portions of any flight. There are many situations during takeoff and climb that may inspire questions.
Do high altitude/mountain airports cause performance problems for aircraft?
There are several factors that affect the runway performance of an aircraft. Among these factors are airport elevation, temperature, weight of the aircraft, winds and runway condition (dry, wet, icy, etc.). As air increases in temperature, its density decreases. This is particularly problematic for aircraft departing from high elevation airports because the air is already less dense at higher elevations. The less dense the air is, the more runway length aircraft require to takeoff. This is because the aircraft’s engines are less efficient and the wings generate less lift when the aircraft is operating in less dense air. Often, this “hot and high” scenario may lead to an aircraft requiring more runway length to takeoff than is available at a particular airport. If this is the case, weight must be removed from the aircraft to safely takeoff on the available runway length. Reducing weight can be accomplished in one of three ways (or a combination of the three): removing passengers, removing luggage, or removing fuel. If fuel is removed, there may not be enough fuel remaining on board in order to reach your final destination nonstop making a fuel stop necessary.
What does “climb gradient” mean?
A climb gradient is simply a distance covered vertically during climb divided by the distance covered horizontally over the ground during the same time. This climb gradient is usually presented as a percentage. Climb gradients are used to ensure an aircraft climbs fast enough to avoid any obstacles that may be in the vicinity of the airport, even if weather conditions are such that the obstacles cannot be physically seen by the pilots. Climb gradient requirements assume the worse-case scenario of an aircraft having only one engine available for climb. If the weather is such that the climb gradient must be met for a given departure, it may lead to the aircraft requiring an additional fuel stop due to weight requirements to meet the gradient.
Can the weight of my luggage impact the flight?
Weight can have a dramatic affect on aircraft performance. Each aircraft has a specific weight limit (maximum takeoff weight) which cannot be exceeded. If the combined weight of passengers and luggage is particularly heavy for a certain flight, the pilots and dispatcher may determine that off-loading fuel is required to keep the aircraft under the maximum takeoff weight. This could lead to additional refueling stops. Alternatively, some baggage may be removed and shipped separately to reduce weight. In addition, weight has a direct impact on the aircraft’s takeoff and landing distance. In general, the heavier the aircraft is, the more runway length it requires for takeoff and landing. Depending on other environmental factors such as temperature, winds, and runway condition, additional weight could lead to an aircraft not being able to use a particular airport. NETJETS WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS – At NetJets, our FAA-certified Flight Dispatchers calculate the weight for each flight using the “short form” which assumes an average passenger weight of 190 lbs and 30 lbs of luggage per passenger. If the calculations on the short form show that the weight may be close to the acceptable limits, the dispatcher then uses the “long form.” The long form uses the actual weights of the passengers and luggage for a more precise calculation to ensure that the flight can be completed safely.
Why do some aircraft need more runway length to takeoff than others?
There are several factors that determine the runway length needed for an aircraft to takeoff, but the most important are weight, wing design, and engine thrust. Generally speaking, the heavier an aircraft is, the more runway length it requires to takeoff. The effect of weight can be offset somewhat by wing design and engine thrust. If the wing of an aircraft is relatively straight rather than swept-back, this allows the aircraft to takeoff at lower speeds and therefore requires less runway distance. In addition, more engine thrust allows the aircraft to accelerate faster and takeoff in less distance. The straight wing design and higher-thrust engines are helpful for takeoff performance, but they can have different effects in other phases of flight. For this reason, aeronautical engineers try to find the best possible balance of all components when designing a new aircraft.
Right after the aircraft takes off, why do I hear a knocking noise and feel a sinking sensation?
The knocking noise you hear is actually the landing gear retracting up into the aircraft. Later, you may also hear the flaps retracting back into the wing. The sinking sensation is caused when the pilot reduces the thrust on the engines. The engine power must be reduced during the initial climb because the engines cannot run at takeoff power for more than a few minutes. When the power is reduced, the aircraft feels as if it is sinking or slowing down dramatically.
Should I be concerned about turbulence?
Simply put, turbulence is air in motion that interacts with the aircraft. All aircraft are built with turbulence in mind, and the wings of the aircraft are made to be flexible to handle these forces. Due to the high altitudes at which they fly, private jets are usually able to avoid turbulence and provide a smoother ride. However, turbulence is often unavoidable during climb and descent. While it may be a nuisance at times, turbulence is an expected part of most flights. Aircraft are designed to withstand it, and pilots are trained to handle it. In case of unexpected turbulence, passengers should wear their seatbelts when not moving around the cabin.
Cruise is the portion of the flight spent flying level and not climbing or descending. Cruise is usually the longest portion of the flight, and this is when most passengers settle in to enjoy the entertainment amenities and catering, conduct business, or simply get some much needed rest.
How high do private jets fly?
Private jet aircraft typically cruise between the altitudes of 37,000 feet and 45,000 feet, which is above most airline traffic and adverse weather. Cruising at these high altitudes is advantageous because the skies are less crowded, and there is generally less turbulence.
How fast do private jets fly?
Most private jets cruise somewhere between 480 miles per hour and 560 miles per hour. The speed is dependent on several factors such as cruising altitude, traffic, and air traffic control restrictions. The fastest private jet, the Citation X, cruises at 590 miles per hour. Most commercial airliners cruise around 500 miles per hour.
What does “Mach” mean?
The term “Mach” is named after the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach. Generally, Mach is used to refer to the ratio of actual speed to the speed of sound. For instance, if an aircraft is traveling at half of the speed of sound, we would say it is traveling at Mach 0.5, and an aircraft traveling at twice the speed of sound would be traveling at Mach 2. An interesting fact relating to Mach number is that the speed of sound actually varies depending on the temperature of the air. As you probably know, air temperature decreases as altitude increases, so an aircraft flying at Mach 0.7 at 25,000 feet would actually be flying faster than an aircraft flying at Mach 0.7 at 41,000 feet.
Why does it take so much longer to get from New York to Los Angeles than from Los Angeles to New York?
Winds can have a dramatic effect on aircraft during all phases of flight. When flying from east to west across the Unites States, aircraft are typically flying into the wind (called a headwind). When flying from west to east, aircraft typically have wind behind them helping to push them along (called a tailwind). A headwind has the effect of decreasing ground speed and the overall range capabilities of an aircraft. Conversely, a tailwind leads to increased range and groundspeed. Considering an east-west city pair, the total flight time is generally longer on the east to west leg than on the west to east leg. An aircraft may be capable of flying west to east nonstop on a particular city pair due to the tailwind but may require a fuel stop from east to west due to the corresponding headwind.
Are private jets able to fly across oceans?
Yes. In fact, there are many private jets capable of long range transoceanic flights. However, not all aircraft are able to be flown for long distances over water. Although an aircraft may have the capability to fly from one point to another over a large body of water, safety regulations may prohibit such a flight due to the aircraft’s inability to return safely to land should an emergency occur. NETJETS TRANSOCEANIC CAPABILITY – Several aircraft types in the NetJets fleet are capable of transoceanic flights. NetJets has the most international operations experience in the fractional aircraft industry. NetJets typically flies to over 140 different countries every year.
What does “cabotage” mean?
Each aircraft is registered in a specific country. Cabotage refers to an aircraft transporting passengers or goods between two points within a country other than its country of registry. Most countries do not allow passengers flying privately to be carried by a foreign registered aircraft between two points within their boundaries. Cabotage rules vary from country to country. Please check with your operator for cabotage rules specific to the country within which you are traveling.
How do pilots know where they are going when they are flying through clouds?
To better answer this question, it may be helpful to first understand the flight rules aircraft must follow. There are two types of flight rules under which an aircraft may be operated: Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). • Visual Flight Rules require certain minimum weather conditions (visibility, which is the distance that can be seen horizontally, and ceiling, which is the altitude of the lowest cloud layer) be met in order to conduct flight operations. Depending on the airport environment in which the aircraft is operating, the visibility and ceiling requirements will vary. • Instrument Flight Rules provide guidance for pilots to fly not only in visual conditions but also through clouds, rain, or other atmospheric conditions. These conditions are referred to as Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). IMC describes a condition where the pilots do not have visual cues outside of the aircraft. The pilots use navigational aides and instruments in the cockpit to execute the flight safely. These rules must be followed when weather is below VFR minimums or anytime when flying above 18,000 feet.
What types of flight instruments are used to navigate in IMC?
To navigate in instrument airspace and/or under IMC conditions, pilots use enroute charts which provide the locations of navigational aids and flight routes. There are numerous types of navigational aids positioned throughout the world which help guide pilots to their destinations, usually by using a radio frequency. The enroute charts are basically highways of the sky that allow the pilots to fly from point A to point B using navigational instruments. It’s possible for pilots to navigate with precision to almost any point desired due to advances in aircraft navigational radio receivers, the development of aeronautical charts which show the exact location of ground transmitting stations and their frequencies, and refined cockpit instrumentation. In addition, many modern aircraft use global positioning satellite systems to help them navigate with precision. NETJETS FLIGHT PLANNING – For increased safety, All NetJets flights are dispatched with an IFR flight plan. By doing so, all flights are under the supervision of the FAA’s Air Traffic Control system.
Descent refers to the portion of flight when the aircraft begins to reduce altitude and head back toward the earth. Descent usually begins approximately one half hour before landing, depending on the actual conditions of the flight. There are many important details relating to the descent portion of a flight.
Why do aircraft sometimes continuously fly in circles before landing?
A holding pattern is a repeating route that an aircraft flies until notified by Air Traffic Control to approach and proceed to landing. Holding patterns are used when airport operations are unexpectedly delayed due to weather conditions, traffic, or when too many aircraft are attempting to fly into and out of an airport at the same time.
What are fuel reserves?
As an added safety measure, aircraft carry fuel in addition to the fuel required for each specific flight. This fuel is known as the fuel reserve and is required by FAA regulations. Before a flight, the pilot and dispatcher calculate the fuel required for the flight and then add the reserve fuel to the flight fuel. The fuel reserve is always carried and is meant to only be used in an emergency. NETJETS FUEL RESERVES – NetJets Director of Operations analyzes the performance of each aircraft type in our fleet and derives a standard minimum fuel reserve to be used on all flights for that specific type of aircraft in accordance with FAA regulations. At the discretion of the Pilot-in-Command, contingency fuel may be added to the fuel reserves for known or anticipated situations such as arrival at high density airports or when an alternate airport may be required.
What is an alternate airport?
If the weather is forecasted to be Instrument Meteorological Condition (IMC) at a destination airport, the pilot and dispatcher will be required to plan for an alternate airport which will have better weather than the instrument approach minimums. This means the aircraft will carry additional fuel onboard in addition to the flight fuel and reserve fuel, in case landing at the destination airport is not possible due to weather conditions.
What is a slot?
A slot is a reservation to arrive or depart at a specific airport at a specific time. The FAA administers slots for safety reasons. They are implemented to control the rate of arrivals and/or departures when the airport’s demand exceeds its capacity.
Which airports require slots?
Some airports use slot reservations year-round while others use them during special events and peak travel times based on anticipated traffic and/or weather. During high demand periods including holidays and weekends around school vacations, obtaining slots can be challenging. Most people want to land during the same narrow windows of time, whether flying privately or commercially.
How do you obtain a slot?
Slots are assigned by the FAA through a random lottery process. Commercial airlines receive their slots first, and then the remaining slots are put into a “lottery.” Slots become available exactly 72 hours prior to the requested arrival time. Since all general aviation companies and private parties are vying for the same slots at the same time, the slots are usually taken within moments of being released. Slots are confirmed 24 hours prior to the day of travel.
Landing is one of the most exciting phases of flight. Many of the same events that take place during takeoff also occur during landing but in the reverse order.
How do aircraft land in adverse weather conditions?
In adverse weather conditions, the aircraft are required to fly under an instrument flight plan. There are several different types of instrument approaches, and not all types are available at all airports. Some of the approaches are more precise than others and therefore can be flown under lower weather conditions (lower ceiling and visibility). By simply using the procedures written in the approach charts and reading the flight instruments, the pilots are able to fly very close to the runway. If the pilot is not able to see the runway after flying the procedure, they follow a missed approach procedure that allows the aircraft to climb safely and avoid any potential obstacle while exiting the airport environment.
What does it mean when a runway has a displaced threshold?
A displaced threshold is when a portion of the runway is not suitable for landing but can be used for taxi, takeoff, or landing rollout. This situation generally occurs when there is some sort of obstruction (trees, buildings, etc.) near the end of the runway. This may affect the aircraft’s ability to operate at an airport since the entire runway length is not available for landing.
How does weather affect an aircraft’s ability to land?
Weather can play a dramatic role in the operation of an aircraft. If fog, snow, or very heavy rains are occurring at the time of arrival or departure, the aircraft may not be able to operate. Even if the aircraft is able to operate, landing or taking off on a runway covered with water, snow, slush, or ice will cause the aircraft to use more runway length than would be needed on a dry runway due to the reduced friction between the aircraft tires and runway.
What happens if a runway has a slope?
Many runways are not completely level, which can affect takeoff and landing performance. When a runway has an up slope or down slope, it is said to have a runway gradient. Up slope runways provide a retarding force which impedes acceleration and results in a longer takeoff distance. Landing uphill actually helps as it usually results in shorter landing distances. Downhill operations have a reverse effect. NETJETS OPERATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS (OIA) DEPARTMENT – The OIA department monitors conditions at our destination airports to make sure our rigorous requirements for a safe flight are met. OIA researches, inspects, and analyzes conditions at airports we consider potentially problematic before NetJets flights are cleared to land there.
What is the Destination Airport Analysis Program (DAAP)?
FAA regulations state that all Part 91(k) and Part 135 (the regulations under which many private jet aircraft operate) flights must be able to land within 60% of the available runway length on any given runway. DAAP allows approved operators to increase the landing requirement to 80% of the available runway, as long as all items on a 22-point “day of flight” safety checklist can be accomplished for the particular flight. Using DAAP allows operators to access many of the smaller airports frequented by private aircraft and ensures that they are safe in doing so. Each operator must have its DAAP approved by the FAA prior to use.
What is that loud noise I hear just after the aircraft lands on the runway?
The noise you heard is created by a system called a thrust reverser. The thrust reverser aids in stopping the aircraft by directing the exhaust flow of the engines in the forward direction. The forward flow of air creates a loud sound you hear just after landing.
We trust that this guide has given you insight to what goes on behind the scenes to make your NetJets flight comfortable, stress-free, and safe. We also hope that it has given you the opportunity to learn more about the exciting world of private aviation. You may want to keep it handy in order to follow along on future flights. As the worldwide leader in the private aviation industry, NetJets takes pride in our knowledge and experience in private aviation, and we appreciate the opportunity to share that knowledge with you. If you have any additional questions about private aviation or if you would like to learn more about our programs, please contact us at 1-877-NETJETS (638-5387).
NetJets Management Ltd. and NetJets Middle East are subsidiaries or affiliates of NetJets Inc. The Gulfstream Large Cabin Fleet is operated by NetJets International. The BBJ is operated by NetJets Large Aircraft Company. All other aircraft offered by NetJets in the United States are operated by NetJets Aviation. Each of these operating companies is a wholly owned subsidiary of NetJets Inc. All aircraft offered by NetJets in Europe are operated by NetJets Transportes Aéreos, SA, an E.U. air carrier. The Marquis Jet Card Program is operated by NetJets under its FAR Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate. While the representations contained in this guide are accurate, the actual terms and conditions are subject to the definitive agreements with individual NetJets Owners. NetJets is a registered trademark of NetJets Inc.
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