private jet charter

Illegal Charter – Consumer Warning

Fly safe or fly sorry. You should know the alarming truth about unlicensed operators and illegal charters.

Is it legal to borrow my friend’s jet?

The answer is – it depends. But probably not.
Your buddy probably has a nice jet and likely has gone through maintenance items like an annual inspection. Even though your friend seems to be doing a great job with a nice-looking aircraft – chances are it’s far from legal for you to use the aircraft. Concerns include safety, insurance, licensing, and regulatory compliance. Can you be sure the crew has been properly screened, trained, and rested?

Your safety could be at risk; you could face unlimited liability and possible costly government penalties.

But I can get a jet for half the price….

An unbelievably low price should raise a red flag. If you know someone offering aircraft for a fraction of the price, your provider could be operating an unlicensed charter. Flying Private has a higher price tag, so a deal may be enticing. The high prices reflect the real cost of doing business. But buyer beware, those too-good-to-be-true deals could be illegal- and even more costly or deadly.

Am I using an illegal operator?

“Illegal charter’ refers to unlicensed operators offering transportation services for hire without meeting the necessary safety, regulatory, and insurance requirements.

Here’s a list of what to consider and the hidden dangers of unlicensed aircraft charters.


Safety Management System (SMS)


Insurance & Liability Exposure


Licensing & Compliance


Flight Crew Training & Rest


Scheduled Maintenance


Mandatory DOT Drug & Alcohol Screening

Charting a Safer Course: Why Licensing Matters in the Charter Industry

Illegal charters operate outside the boundaries of regulatory authorities, so they aren’t subject to the same rigorous safety standards and oversight as licensed operators. Since they don’t work within the FAA framework, holding them accountable for safety and service failures is difficult.

Without regulatory oversight, can you be sure an operator is ensuring safety, maintenance, and operational standards? Is it worth it?

Legal air charters, like AB Jets, are issued a certificate verifying that the operation meets or exceeds the FAA standards. Aircraft operated “for compensation or hire” are subject to stricter regulations and enhanced safety requirements to protect charter customers. These regulations establish safe operating procedures and policies regarding training, flight time, maintenance requirements, noise restrictions, flight paths, etc.

The High Cost of Unlicensed Charters

Consumers tempted by a price significantly lower than legitimate charter operators should keep in mind that the illegal operator is cutting corners on safety and compliance to offer cheap rates. The hazards of an unlicensed charter put you at unlimited risk. Passengers with an unlicensed charter may have limited recourse and no legal protections if something goes wrong during a flight. Pursuing compensation or resolution for any issues can be challenging without regulatory support.

In the event of an incident or accident, passengers of an illegal charter may be unable to rely on insurance coverage to compensate for damages or injuries sustained. This leaves passengers vulnerable and they could be liable for the total cost of any damages, injuries, or legal fees. Those who hire illegal charters could face fines and penalties.

Legal and licensed charter operators must carry insurance that meets FAA regulations, including minimum coverage requirements for liability and damage to aircraft. Each aircraft operated by AB Jets carries a $100MM liability insurance policy.

charter jet

Who can I trust?

Unlicensed operators may have questionable reputations. It can be difficult to vet them for past safety incidents or customer experiences. Choosing an illegal charter puts you at risk of dealing with unprofessional and unreliable operators.

Flight Roulette

Could you be gambling with your life? Unlicensed charters are a risky bet.

An illegal operator isn’t likely to adhere to operational and maintenance standards. This can result in inadequate care, poor pilot training, dangerous aircraft, and outdated safety equipment.

Legal charter aircraft are subject to rigorous maintenance standards. All aircraft have runway length limitations, but legal charters operate with a higher margin of safety on longer runways. Charter Pilots undergo many hours of training and checking each year and adhere to stringent rest requirements. 

These stricter requirements ensure the safest operations by highly-qualified flight crews on rigorously maintained aircraft. Cutting corners on charters is a deadly game.

Protect yourself from the perils of unsafe flying.

Flying with a licensed charter operator provides peace of mind.

Our commitment to safety and compliance minimizes risks, prevents accidents, and ensures that all flights are safe and efficient. Plus, it’s all verified by independent auditors.  AB Jets has earned the prestigious ARG/US Platinum rating, the highest possible, for ten consecutive years – a rating claimed by less than 5% of operators worldwide.

Experience Matters.
For over two decades, we have strived to provide excellent service, maintain our aircraft to the highest standards, and ensure our passengers have a positive experience.

We are FAA-certified to operate and maintain our aircraft. Our experienced flight crews train regularly and follow all FAA guidance for duty and rest times. Our expert maintenance team adheres to a rigorous maintenance schedule. Flight Crew and Maintenance personnel participate in mandatory DOT drug and alcohol screening. We carry the highest levels of insurance.

AB Jets is a licensed private jet company with a long history of safety and reliability. When you Fly AB, you can be sure you are flying with the best. Request a quote to start your legal, licensed private flight.

AB Jets Lear 60

Don’t Let Illegal Charter Clip Your Wings

You can spot and avoid unlicensed charter scams. It’s essential to verify the legitimacy of a charter operator before booking a flight. You don’t need vast industry knowledge to select a legal charter operator. The FAA closely monitors licensed operators.

Due Diligence Resources

  • Ask for the Operating Certificate.
    Our fleet of aircraft is managed by AB Jets on FAA Air Carrier Operating Certificate Number B5ZAOO4J
  • Consult the list of FAA-certified Charter Aircraft Operators. The list is alphabetical; we’re pretty close to the top.
  • Contact your regional FAA office. Request verification for the trip you’re planning.
  • Illegal charter – Is it worth the risk? Listen to this episode of the Above and Beyond podcast with Greg Lander, FAA Enforcement Branch Attorney, and Ryan Wagespack, NATA’s Senior Vice President.
  • Learn more about identifying illegal charters from the US Private Aviation Association.

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Learjet 60

Learjet 60

Learn how this aircraft sets us apart from its exceptional speed and range to its unmatched comfort.

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Find the answers to your frequently asked questions about private jet charter with AB Jets.

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