OpenAirplane Solves Rental Checkout Dilemma

Aviation International News » July 2012
July 5, 2012, 2:55 AM

Rod Rakic and Adam Fast are tackling one of the unique challenges facing the general aviation industry: how to get pilots to fly more. Rising fuel prices and the many obstacles that discourage pilots from flying have caused large reductions in flying time, which are reflected in low new aircraft delivery numbers, declining fuel sales and low used aircraft prices. “Our challenge is how do we keep people flying longer and more,” Rakic explained.

To do just that, Rakic and Fast are developing a new system called OpenAirplane, designed to eliminate the dreaded “checkout” that aircraft rental providers impose on pilots who haven’t flown the company’s aircraft before.

The simple concept behind OpenAirplane is to make it easier for pilots to rent airplanes in different locales. Under the existing system, when a pilot wants to rent an airplane from an FBO or flight school, the pilot is required to get “checked out,” which means flying with an instructor for up to an hour to verify the pilot’s skills and introduce him or her to the local area. The supposed reason for the checkout flight is that “it is required by the insurance company,” according to the rental provider. This isn’t always the case; many fleet insurance policies do not require checkouts, but rental providers almost universally require the checkout process for all new rental pilots.

If OpenAirplane is accepted by the aviation industry and receives the necessary startup funding, it could make it easier not only for pilots to rent airplanes at other airports, but also facilitate local rentals by business travelers. Many pilots travel for business and need to visit multiple sites at a destination. With OpenAirplane, they could rent an airplane after arriving at the destination and visit all those sites more efficiently, without having to go through an expensive and time-consuming checkout. Another benefit would be that instead of having to fly at least every 90 days with one rental company to stay current, the pilot could meet that requirement by flying at any OpenAirplane-participating rental provider.

The hassles of signing up and getting checked out at a new rental provider are enough to discourage most pilots from renting airplanes more often, according to Rakic. In a survey conducted by OpenAirplane, 96 percent of respondents indicated that they would fly more at locations away from their home airport if the process were simpler. More than 50 percent “said that they don’t rent away from home because of complicated checkout requirements, and 28 percent of pilots said that they don’t rent more simply because it’s hard to find airplanes.”

OpenAirplane would also be a Web repository for available rental aircraft, making it much easier for pilots to find rental providers. “It’s OpenTable for airplanes,” Rakic said, referring to the online restaurant reservation system. There is no fee for rental providers to join OpenAirplane, but they would pay a small percentage of the rental revenue.

Toward a Standard Checkout

Part of creating OpenAirplane is to assuage the fears of insurance underwriters, which ultimately set many of the standards used by the aviation industry and have driven the development of the dreaded checkout. The task, he explained, “is to create an industry-wide standard that everyone can be cool with. There’s no standardization of what constitutes a checkout.” One FBO might require filling out a complicated data form about the airplane and an hour-long flight while another will be satisfied with three takeoffs and landings.

This lack of a standardized checkout fuels distrust among rental providers. OpenAirplane will create a checkout standard that participating rental companies can rely on to know that OpenAirplane pilots have been checked out properly elsewhere. “It allows [the FBO] to know you weren’t pencil-whipped through the process,” Rakic said. “We’ve got some inertia here of pulling together a coalition of operators and insurance providers, to fix a problem that’s plagued pilots and created a lot of friction.”

OpenAirplane is working with insurance launch partner Starr Aviation, which has already put its stamp of approval on the OpenAirplane standardization and evaluation program.

OpenAirplane will include a system for pilots to rate the rental providers and their airplanes. The rental companies will also be able to rate pilots. A pilot who consistently leaves trash in the airplane will not be a welcome customer, for example. “If you bald spot a tire and leave FOD in the cockpit, you will not get a good review,” he explained. “This [creates incentives on] both sides of the equation.”

Reaction to OpenAirplane from airplane rental providers “has been fabulous,” Rakic said, and he and Fast are hoping to launch later this year.

OpenAirplane, he concluded, “can reduce the friction to make people fly more. It makes the pilot certificate more valuable. I can’t do anything about the price of gas, but I can do something about number of people buying it. With more utilization, we can keep private aviation from dwindling into nothing.”

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No Avatar
Mr Kite
on July 6, 2012 - 9:22am

This was done by Lease-A-Plane 40 years ago and for the most part worked well...Lease-A-Plane had other issues...

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John Franz
on July 6, 2012 - 3:05pm

A concept that is long overdue. For myself, I would fly much more when out of town when business associates, friends and family would love to go flying. I would love to oblige them and could easily do so through this kind of program.

I fly a great deal through SunQuest Aviation here in Jupiter, Florida and would hope that they join the program. I travel frequently to Massachusetts and Alabama where many want me to take them up, but due to time contraints cannot afford the lengthy process that FBO's have in place for rentals.

Let me know when this is in place and a list so I can join!!!

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David Reichenbacher
on July 6, 2012 - 3:09pm

This is great news! I fly in VA and NJ (hopely NC soon too) and would love to not have to spend so much extra money, especially these days when money is tight. I hope the idea can be implemented.

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SkyGod
on July 6, 2012 - 3:14pm

Do you really think I would let some unknown instructor from some unknown operation, certify anyone to hop in one of my airplanes and take off?

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Harry Balzack
on July 6, 2012 - 11:49pm

Your handel explains your attitude.

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Jason Price
on July 7, 2012 - 6:13pm

The ego-maniacal hubris of a not-backed-up-with-even-an-attempt-at-explaining-why-I-am-any-better-than-you part.

Not what SkyGod said.

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gregifly
on July 10, 2012 - 12:33am

Obviously the people doing the checking would need to adhere to a standard as well. A lot of people have had this same idea. At least these two people are trying to do something about it.

People once thought a computer 'mouse' was a dumb idea.

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Safety First
on July 6, 2012 - 3:14pm

I don't care whether the insurance carrier likes it or not. As an instructor and firm believer in safety of flight, I would not allow a pilot to fly my plane based solely on another flight school's evaluation of an unknown-to-me pilot's skills. Won't happen.

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Dave
on July 6, 2012 - 9:25pm

I'm on the fence - and you raise a good point. But what if the other flight school's on-staff FAA designated pilot examiner just signed off a new 1,000 hour commercial pilot who has been instrument rated for years. They're in town during the day and would love to rent a C172 that they have 800 hours in back home. Isn't this what the new system is supposed to check and allow for?

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Jake
on July 7, 2012 - 11:54pm

From listening to this concept on a podcast, the open airplane checkout would be based on the Civil Air Patrol's "form 5" checkride. If you go to http://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/F005_307D79BCBF52D.pdf you can see a checklist of what all is included on that checkride. Also, at least in CAP and I would assume OpenAirplane as well, everything must be done to the PTS standards.

I think that everyone would agree that this would be a more difficult "check out" than 90+% of the FBOs out there. Which would also mean better, safer pilots.

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Louis B
on July 6, 2012 - 3:27pm

This would really get me to rent at the destination on trips where I fly in by commercial airliner. And I would likely fly more annually, which is also a good thing for proficiency. I hope this effort works out.

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dba
on July 6, 2012 - 3:32pm

I think that this is a great idea that is long overdue, and I look forward to participating as a renter as soon as possible.

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Wumpus
on July 6, 2012 - 3:51pm

They mentioned the hassles, but another reason I don't do more checkouts is due to the nature of many schools or FBOs. A LOT of the planes are leasebacks and I'm sure we've all seen our fair share of operations go out of business...

Why would I want to drop $200-$300 for a checkout when the plane and/or the company might not be there next week?

Hopefully this new (old) idea will catch on!

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Bill Costello
on July 6, 2012 - 3:58pm

This is a long overdue terrific idea. This concept will get me flying more for sure. You should gather a mailing list to keep interested folks informed by email.
Good luck

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Jake
on July 7, 2012 - 11:43pm

If you go to www.openairplane.com you can sign up for email updates. Also you can follow @openaieplane on twitter.

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About Time
on July 6, 2012 - 3:59pm

This is a GREAT idea! I would be more encouraged to rent if I had options outside my home airport. We live in Colorado, but frequently visit Indiana where our family resides and we were raised. Every time we go home to IN I have family wanting to go for joyrides, but I am unable to take them because I don't want to pay nearly $200 to get checked out.

It would also allow for scenic flights at vacation destinations.

I hope this takes off and the insurance industry does not stop it before it has a chance to succeed.

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Wumpus
on July 6, 2012 - 4:12pm

@Safety First - So, given your post, YOU are the ONLY arbiter in the country of whether I am a safe pilot? Where are you at? I need to come see you since my Chief won't let me fly any more... I suppose you'll need to redo my Intitial CFI too, right?

It's this kind of attitude that is helping to kill GA. The idea that - even if we could manage to standardize training - it won't matter. ONE individual, and as quoted "insurance company be damned" can kill the process. If an airline can double type-rate a pilot in 757/767s, why is your 172 any different than every other 172 in the world???

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About Time
on July 6, 2012 - 4:12pm

For those aircraft owners that say "no way in hell".... I say if you are not comfortable with the standards that OpenAirplane develops then don't join the program. You can let your plane sit in the hangar while I take my money next door and rent. If you are uncomfortable with people renting your plane then you are in the wrong business.
In reality a 1hr checkout is a joke. In 1hr there is no way to truly decide if a pilot is competent in all the situations that can arise in a plane. Just because someone can do steep turns, stalls, and land on a blue sky no wind day doesn't mean your prized plane is safe when that same person shows up to rent on an overcast winter day with 10kt winds.
I'd pay extra to do a more thorough checkout (several hours) with a service such as OpenAirplane if I thought I'd be able to use the service more often.

Just my 2 cents

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Flytdoc
on July 6, 2012 - 5:30pm

Provided you had a clear, objective standard this type of a network should work famously. In fact, the Civil Air Patrol does much the same thing- a standardized pilot evaluation process that is reproducable and acceptable nationwide. As a CAP pilot, I can fly another state's aircraft provided I have documentation that I have a current annual checkride. The military has done this since before Hap Arnold...what's the problem?

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Jake
on July 7, 2012 - 11:59pm

My understanding is that the CAP checkride is what the OpenAirplane checkout will be based on. In fact, on a podcast Rod said the plan is to be able to grandfather in all current CAP pilots.

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Not so fast
on July 6, 2012 - 5:35pm

If standards were the answer, no one would ever fail a check ride - but they do. There are also varying qualities of rental aircraft. Some schools rent junk and really don't care how it's treated. Others take pride in their fleet and it shows. Part of the checkout is often the conveyance of the renters expectations of how they want their equipment treated. The checkout isn't necessarily just about figuring out whether or not you can fly the airplane. Every time I've been checked out, there is always some nugget of information I take away from a different instructors perspective. I'm ok with it.

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Jake
on July 8, 2012 - 12:03am

You are right, there is valuable information that can be gained from a local checkout. Local landmarks, where to park the airplane, how to treat the airplane, ect. Almost all of these can be conveayed on the ground though. Without a $2/minute propeller spinning in front of you.

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Nathan Harwood
on July 6, 2012 - 6:00pm

Long overdue, hurry up already so we can sign up for this promising and welcome change!

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Jason Price
on July 6, 2012 - 6:33pm

There are LOTS of times that I would go flying locally while on trips or vacations where I couldn't afford to rent a plane to get to that destination in the first place (or being the proud owner of a Harley just wanted to ride there). But I usually don't have the extra $150-250 it costs to get "checked out" at some FBO renting me the same Warrior or 172 I fly all the time at home.

To those owners with objections about safety, I'd ask the following: Why is YOUR standard of safety so much better than the rest of the world. The whole idea of the program is to set a common level of flight proficiency expected of its members that makes even twitchy insurance companies willing to jump on board. A flight instructor, an FAA check ride, an FAA biennial and a set of industry guidelines all said I was OK to fly. If that's not good enough for you, then I probably wasn't interested in visiting your FBO anyway, so there's no loss for you.

For everyone else looking to INCREASE their revenue in the future, I hope to be taking off in one of your planes soon.

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Jason Price
on July 6, 2012 - 6:42pm

What I WOULD consider acceptable for an FBO under this program, might be a mandatory session with the renter of instructor (say about 30 minutes max) where you can sit and discuss some of the unique challenges to your particular airspace. I.E - a common route out of the area that avoids towers, unique runway considerations, or make sure my pre-flight planning is thorough. In my experience... a pilot who takes the time to have a well organized pre-flight plan is more likely to be a conscientious pilot who'll bring your plane back safe and well cared for.

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Flyboy
on July 6, 2012 - 7:04pm

This is a great concept which would definitely allow me to have more options and fly more frequently. Having said that, I think that participating FBOs should go through an evaluarion/certification process. Also, they would have to charge visiting pilots a higher rate in order to offset any membership monthly fee.

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JOHN ARSENAULT
on July 6, 2012 - 7:59pm

LETS DO IT... GA IS DYING ON THE VINE

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Bob Morrow
on July 6, 2012 - 8:16pm

The main idea is a good one, if executed with a great deal of thought. Many times I would have loved to pull into the local FBO while on vacation, but haven't because I know it will cost way too much to check out. Now think of the lost revenue for the FBO and the instructor who would check you out. If I could have just gone in and rented with this program, the FBO would be the one to gain. The poor CFI would still be sitting in the lobby waiting for the next student to arrive. I do feel for him/her, as I am one too, but the FBO will survive and the CFI will still have a place to teach. It seems that everyone would be a winner here.

I am not sure you will get all that many to sign up at first, but in time, I think most FBO's will see the light. Good luck!

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Gilbert wright
on July 6, 2012 - 8:21pm

The comment about a 30 min local area orientation table top discussion is good and could be front loaded with a short carefully prepared and fun video of several of those local topics and specific warnings frequencies and safe corridors. Of course, in Colorado there would need to be mountain/ high altitude demo of some sort or proof of that training, stc.

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BestInFlight
on July 6, 2012 - 8:48pm

I'm not worried about the majority of the peole who walk through my door wanting to rent. Those people are humble and offer a conservative estimate of their skills. Statistically, they are safe.
I worry about the minority who have an inflated view of their skills. They will bully their way into the checkout, then carry that checkout to other bases. Even a good pilot needs a checkout at my airport. A glance at the chart and a read through the AFD simply isn't enough.
I regularly check pilots for flight clubs. You would be surprised how much people forget the day afte they take a check ride.
When you rent a car -- which relies on the state's driver's license criteria -- the risk of loss lies with the renter, who must present proof of insurance or buy some from the rental agency. Aircraft owners often have non-owned coverage. Aircraft renters are unlikely to carry hull coverage sufficient to pay for the aircraft. An FBO which rents without due diligence is likely to suffer losses over time from unqualified pilots.
If I can be convinced that (1) the checkout is thorough and current, and (2) the liability issues are addresses, I'll participate.

Best in Flight Linden is the closest aircraft rental to New York City. www.bestinflight.net

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Jake
on July 8, 2012 - 12:08am

I believe that as part of the program the pilot will have to have some level of renters insurance. I dont know the details of how much though.

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Willem
on July 6, 2012 - 11:06pm

I like the idea and I think it will help people save a lot of money and have aircraft owners make more money. But apart from checking if the person renting the aircraft is up to scratch the biggest benefit I see in a check ride is to give the new pilot local knowledge. I scuba and I fly and sure as hell local knowledge saved my behind a few times. Maybe make the check half the normal time and have it have a longer validity just as long as the guy has local knowledge. Thereafter he can jump from aircraft to aircraft.

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Ron Smolinski
on July 6, 2012 - 11:07pm

I can appreciate all of the comments. Bottom line is that GA is dwindling and this is a means to change that direction. Thorough (and possibly annual) checkouts by your local CFIs (at least 2) who have standards to go by, and/or frequent flying might be the way to go. Just two montsh ago, I had not flown for 6 weeks, so I checked out myself prior to a cross-country flight. I was rusty, and glad I did it.

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Steve
on July 7, 2012 - 7:44am

The concept herein offers benefits and value, except when it comes to the most important value, Safety. As a recent recipient of a flight school providing a "check-ride" to a renter from, not only from out of town, but from the Asian continent, his language skills were totally unacceptable. Due to his ability to communicate he created havoc on the frequencies and confusion on the ground and in the airspace.

My recommendation is to not jump on this idea, without really bringing in the right team (subject matter experts) to discuss all the aspects, the good, bad, and the ugly. The good is really simple to identify (this the the group with the initial idea), the bad is somewhat simple (the group that on the surface asks and identifies the topical things that go wrong), but next is the most difficult, to identify the ugly (the group that are the real subject matter experts, SMEs, that have the knowledge and experience that play the devil's advocate that truly can see the holes and how they line up in the "swiss cheese model."

Please think this one through, one or two simple incidents or worse will bring this idea to a halt rather quickly. I'm not shooting the idea down, I believe it has tremendous potential, but on the surface from what the Rod and Adam have presented herein, is a rather simplistic business idea. It will truly be necessary to see their business model and appropriate mitigation plans whereby they have really followed a true Safety Management System (SMS) Process.

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Alan Hamilton
on July 7, 2012 - 9:08am

Personally, I have always thought the checkout should be paid for by the owner if the pilot is current. It's his peace of mind that's at issue. I've been told that currency can be pencil whipped, but in my case, a quick call to my local FBO could check that. I belive that its rare that people get turned down after taking a checkout ride, even more rare if the Pilot is current. I have even heard complaints from Insturctors about that. I'm sure that a legal case could be made if someone is turned down a pilot that the FAA says good to go.

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Flyinfun1
on July 7, 2012 - 10:14am

This idea was tried more than 30 years ago...can't remember the name of the company...and they had a fairly significant network of FBO's in their stable. It did generate more flying (revenue) but eventually failed. Don't know the reasons why.
I did participate in renting aircraft from several of their locations, and it was ultra convenient and hassle fee. After a thorough check out at my local franchise, my information and competency was "in the system" so that when I rented at another franchise, they had all the pertinent data about me.
With the computerization of information in this day and age, any and all information on a pilot's certification and competency would be instantly available to the participating FBO.
Look, leasing back an aircraft for rental is a risk. If owners don't want to accept that level of risk, DON'T LEASE-BACK YOUR AIRCRAFT. Simple as that. Also, to mitigate some of that risk, it could be a requirement of participation to carry a "Non-Owner Insurance" policy yourself. They are relatively inexpensive, and it protects YOU.
I have flown GA aircraft in many different countries all over the world with no problems. Yes, a "check-out" was required, but I gleaned more from the "coffee room chat" about the local environs, than demonstrating my "stick-and-rudder" skills.
I hope this idea becomes a reality as I too would be more inclined to rent in different locales. THIS IS GREAT FOR GENERAL AVIATION !!!

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Producer
on July 7, 2012 - 11:32am

Nice concept in theory, but based on my decade of experience as a flight instructor at a large local aero club (Northeast) - not really workable.

First off, how many pilots want to rent at distant locations? I've done it once or twice, but if I was going to routinely return to an area, I would (and have) just get checked out at the local FBO/aero club. Not a big deal.

Also, anyone who complains about the cost of a hour of dual might want to look for another recreational activity.

In my backyard (Northeast) there's a lot of transitional information and practices that a pilot from, say, the Southwest needs to know - especially rapid seasonal weather changes and local area restrictions. I've checked out rated instrument pilots who had never flown in a cloud (seriously.) Some have never had to pre-heat a plane.

This idea may have made sense several decades ago, but post-9/11, there are far too many airspace restrictions and the like. We get TFRs all the time.

And oh, by the way, my airport is run by the regional transit authority and has a very secure pilot ID badging system and a State Police presence - not sure how transient, non-owner rental pilots would even fit into that. Probably have to go to a smaller, local GA field.

Consider this - in the military, even with its very thorough, intensive pilot training and standardization, a transferred pilot still has to go through a local unit check out on all phases of operations. What their prior unit did doesn't really count - the new unit makes their own decisions. GA doesn't have a system of training and standardization anything like that.

So good luck to these folks - I've heard that there is a Cirrus owners club that does the same thing - but I don't know how extensive the initial checkout is, or the minimum pilot ratings and experience required.

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Jason Price
on July 7, 2012 - 5:17pm

There's so much crap in this post, I hardly know where to start.

1. Flying is already expensive. Cut that cost possibly by as much as half and yes, I bet a lot of pilots start looking where the local FBO is when they are planning that business trip or the yearly family vacation.

2. I AM SOOOOO GLAD that you are just rolling in money, but pardon me if the fact that I'm not offends your sensibilities. I play golf too. I play with a $200 set of clubs on a public course. Sure that $800 set sure might add some distance to my drive, or fix my slice... but not having it sure as hell doesn't diminish my love of the game. So take your country club, better than you mentality and shove it up your ass. I fly for the passion of it. I'll rent a plane, stay in the pattern and do touch-n-gos for no other reason than it FEELS good. There are high-time and low-time pilots from every walk of life, but we all have in common a love for what we do.

3. TFRs... REALLY? So NOBODY ever has to deal with TFRs but your airport? I am legally required by the FAA to check for local, route and destination TFRs as a part of all pre-flight planning regardless of where I operate from. Any yahoo might be able to get a driver's license, but GA pilots already go through some of the most expensive and most thorough training that any other form of transportation, so quit being so condescending to our skill sets. Are there sloppy pilots? You bet, and previous posts have suggested that a round table with the renter is a reasonable compromise for renting under this program.

4. No instrument pilot has EVER flown in clouds... until the day they do. No VFR pilot has ever experienced marginal VFR flying... until the day they do. No check ride will tell you if a pilot is ready for every challenge that might come their way, it is a very complex method of travel. I've never flown at high altitudes, so if If I'm in Jackson Hole wanting to rent a plane, I'm going to ASK for a check ride, because I know I'm not prepared for those conditions, and I bet 90% of pilots would do the same. So if you are that concerned about how ill prepared all the rest of the GA population is, by all means get out of the rental business or don't lease back your plane.

5. Don't talk out your ass about things you don't know. The TSA already allowed transient pilots at secured commercial airports, just "escorted" but all the way back in 2009 loosened those to make un-escorted operations (including fueling) more reasonable for the casual GA pilot. So, sorry the state police aren't going to keep us undesirables out of "your" airport. Oh, what's wrong with a local GA airport anyway? I've flown into an small airport, had the owner loan me his personal car for the day while my daughter and I went to the zoo, and had my plane fueled and a cup of coffee ready for me when I came back. Doubt I'd get that kind of service at your place Once again, your exclusive "country club" of an airport is not necessarily any better.

6. As far as the military goes: That's their job. They aren't visiting for the weekend, so why not spend time getting to know the local peculiarities? Doesn't cost them anything. And there's is also a bit of a difference between me renting your $80,000 '80s 172 and being PIC of $2 million worth of taxpayer avionic engineering.

I am all for renters not being willing to participate in this new program for whatever reason they choose. They same way my financial investments fit a certain risk profile I am willing to commit my money too, so should you define your own risk strategies in renting out an aircraft. But as always, greater risk can mean greater rewards in the form of more time ticking away on the Hobbs meter. Just don't talk down to us like we are incapable of being intelligent, cautious and responsible pilots.

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B. Pine
on July 14, 2012 - 11:23am

I second that!

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Robert_Nix73@hotmail.com
on July 7, 2012 - 12:18pm

I'm sure there are some issues to be resolved, but none of them sound insurmountable. I travel and would rent more planes if I could show up at an FBO and grab one. The FBO I fly out of has excellent instructors and a wonderful program. I have no problem getting checked out at other FBOs. I've often wondered why pilots who fly regularly at a quality rated FBO could not also fly at other top rated FBOs without the check ride. I hope Open Airplane overcomes any hurdles and gets off the ground.

Best of luck,

Robert

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Rod Rakic
on July 7, 2012 - 2:04pm

Hi Folks,

To everyone who took time to comment on the article here. We really do appreciate the community getting excited about our concept, and all those are stepping up to help us get the service launched.

OpenAirplane won't be a good fit for every operator who rents airplanes, nor will it be for every pilot. But we've found enough folks around the country willing to try a new way of flying for us at least test the ideas.

I want everyone to know that we're listening to the critiques of the idea too. We know that some of this has been tried and failed before, and that we're working against a ton of inertia in the industry to deliver this solution. That's OK with us. We think that together, we can figure this out.

We know that we have some big things to deliver on...

• We need to give pilots a great way to understand the equipment they are renting.

• We need to give pilots access to the "tribal knowledge" that can give them the confidence to fly like a local.

• We need to give operators a consistant way to make good decisions about who they are renting to.

I can't address all good points made here in comments, but I can tell you about this...

OpenAirplane will never take the decision to dispatch an airplane away from the operator. We can make it easier for them to offer access to their rental fleet, and we can give them better information than they have had ever before about the background, skills, and reputation renter pilot. The operators will always have the chance to look the renter in the eye, and decide whether to hand them the keys.

We started with this wicked problem of how to make everyone's pilot certificate more valuable. We think that by making renting airplanes as easy as renting a car, together we can help GA more profitable, safer, and more fun for everyone.

I'll be give a talk about Open Airplane at Oshkosh on the Technology Showcase Stage on Wednesday, July 25th at 10:00 am. We're looking forward to talking to as many folks as we can, to help us make OpenAirplane's tools better for everyone.

In the mean time, please feel free to drop me a line anytime at
rod [at] OpenAirplane.com if you have questions. You can give us a call at 312.436.1018.

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Markus
on July 7, 2012 - 2:36pm

Absolutely overdue. Last winter I tried to rent a PA28 (1982 model) on Grand Canaria Island. Besides 250€/h (!) they required a "safety pilot", which meant that my wife and two kids wouldn't fit.

It is because of those absurd "offers" that GA is dying.

OpenAirplane is needed. Why is renting a plane different from renting a car? And don't get scared if accidents happen - and they will happen! Nobody stops renting cars, because a customer had an accident in a rental car. Accidents are (unfortunately) a part of life. Just make sure that accidents are insured, so the business is not hit.

Blue Skys!

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Bob
on July 7, 2012 - 2:57pm

I would rent more often in locations I travel to if something like this existed. I live in the DC area and drive up to Philly to visit family. It's too expensive to rent an airplane for the whole weekend and I would love to give family and friends rides when I'm up there, but everytime I go up to visit I would have to go for another check ride to rent a plane in Philly. I think this would solve that problem and flying in places like Florida, Arkanasas where I travel to on occassion.

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John
on July 7, 2012 - 4:57pm

For all you FBOs and CFIs who are trying to make the case that your local area is "different" and possibly "harder to handle", so outsiders coming in to rent from you must "clearly" get checked out on local-area conditions before being allowed to rent from you, I have three comments:

If your concern really is about familiarizing outsiders about "unique" conditions in your area, provide written material or a short video to familiarize those outsiders about the conditions; you could even incorporate a tiny (automated) test, if you insisted. You certainly should NOT be concerned about outsiders' ability to manipulate the aircraft controls and talk to ATC where necessary, if they have been signed off by another FBO that would be a member of the OpenAirplane group.

2. Let me point out that everyone who flies INTO your area from elsewhere has to be equally capable of handling your "unique local conditions" (in fact, EVERY pilot who doesn't just do bumps-and-grinds around their local patch had bloody well better have this abiity!), so it seems truly over-the-top to insist that the outsiders who happen to want to rent your aircraft must have had a live (and recent) check-out with one of your CFIs.

3. If you absolutely want to keep your precious aircraft safe from the ravages and mishandling by outsider-pilots who have not had the great benefit of an hour's checkout with your super-CFIs, JUST KEEP THEM ON THE GROUND - and let the rest of us go on with the business of using, and enjoying, other FBOs' aircraft in your local area. If you don't want to participate, DON'T - but don't tell other pilots or FBOs what they should or should not even consider doing!

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Rob
on July 7, 2012 - 5:04pm

Bad idea. From your responses, the customers are the ones that want it, simply to save money. A responsible FBO will not give the keys to a pilot without flying with him in the local area. An experienced pilot will demand a local checkout, simply because he is more experienced. How about an OpenAirplane checkout plus a local checkout and that would cost more. That's why it's a bad idea.

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Jason Price
on July 7, 2012 - 6:07pm

I bet you like to go to the movies. How many times a week do you go? Don't feel like cooking dinner tonight, and I bet you start deciding whether you want Mexican or Italian... or Ramen.

Point is, saving money IS the point! We all have things we do in our lives that make us happy and those things cost money, but we only have a finite number of dollars to spend. We all sacrifice one thing we might want, in order to get something else that has more "value" to us. I have a wife and three kids and trips to the movie theatre are fun, but with ticket and concession prices rising we have to make careful choices about which films we go see.

GA is no different. If I could afford to get a job 100 miles away from my home just so I could fly even a lowly trainer Tomahawk to work EVERY SINGLE DAY... well then I would. Or fly around the lake on every camping trip we take, or fly up and down wine country in Napa and Sonoma while on a romantic vacation.. you get the point. I love to fly, but that's just not a reality to those of us that aren't bringing in $1 million a year. But time I don't spend in the air doesn't just affect my happiness, it hurts those FBOs and owners who want me flying their aircraft.

If a check ride were free-of-charge, I might get one every single time. I am always willing to learn something about my chosen form of recreation, but the reality is that in most (not all) of the occasions I have to rent a plane, that is simply unnecessary. I can choose not to fly in conditions that are wildly outside my level of experience. And as far as costing more for a "double" check ride: if as a pilot I am enrolled in the OpenAirplane program, and an FBO is not, then chances are I'll look for one that does.

Many business travelers stay exclusively at certain hotels because they have incentive programs that reward their loyalty. My reward for visiting an OpenAirplane participating FBO is a speedy, enjoyable and yes less expensive route to the runway.

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Erich
on July 9, 2012 - 1:55am

Without pilots to rent there is no need for companies that rent. Don't like the idea, don't join. The FAA says that I am competent to fly. You say that you know better than the FAA examiner. I suspect that it is because you have so much more qualified CFI than any in the rest of the country. I have very conservative limits and observe them closely as do much competent pilots. If I come to your area every 120+ days then I always have to take a checkout even when I've already had one with one of your super and expensive CFI. Why? Don't want to rent your plans don't. That is your business. But don't try to set off a "class" war between pilots who want to rent easily and often and businesses that might also want to rent their planes rather than have them sit on the ground.

I defy anyone to provide valid, useful statistics that these local checkouts contribute to safety. They certainly don't contribute to business.

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Rob
on July 7, 2012 - 6:36pm

I think this idea was born with it's hear in the right place
but honestly every airplane is diffrent from every other.
flying with someone who knows the aircraft's quirks will
better prepare the pilot and I'm sorry. back to the drawing board.
We need a way to increase rentals but not at the cost of sharing information,
experience, and safety. just my 2c.

I woudnt even let someone drive my VW unless they knew it's quirks
riding with me first.

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Peter Sharpe
on July 8, 2012 - 2:00am

Ok so how is this going to work? Just because I've flown a 172 before I can jump in any old 172 at a 'participating FBO' and go fly? No thanks, when I go to a new club and get in a new airplane, firstly I want to find out if there is anything unique about the aircraft as no two 172s, Tomahawks or Cherokees are the same.
Secondly I also want to learn the airport and the area from somebody familiar with it before I go exploring and discover anything I missed on the sectional.
Thirdly I want the additional instruction anyway, because I'm not Chuck Yeager and every instructor has something new to teach me.
Finally I want the instructor to prove to me that their airplane is safe before I take my family for a $100 hamburger in it.

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Flyguycfi
on July 8, 2012 - 5:32pm

Some of these comments are just silly and condescending. If you have a pilot certificate, and are current, and obey any and all FAA/AIM guidelines, you can fly anywhere you want. Yes, there can be some unique challenges in "some" areas (mountain flying, water flying, etc) but lets focus on the 95% of flying that an average renter wants to do--vfr, daytime scenic flight with a buddy. If you don't want to join with your airplanes--then don't and see your business dwindle further. Most FBOs will give a check ride in one airplane and then you can rent any of several airplanes in the same category and class. To say that your 172 is different from all other 172s is asinine. Maybe you should get yours fixed and standardized--you might rent it more. I recently looked into renting a 182 that happened to have a "glass" cockpit. They wanted a minimum 25 hours in that aircraft to rent it for a 5 hour day vfr trip. We travel a lot and would love to be able to rent an aircraft for a few hours to enjoy the areas that we are in. But it is too expensive to get checked out in every different city that we visit. Let me know when you get going and I will be an early participant. See you at Oshkosh. jpr.

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