Weather conditions at the departure, along the route and at the destination are often grounds for delays and cancelled flights when you fly via commercial airliners. Freezing temperatures, iced runways, heavy snows, fog, thunderstorms represent a few examples in this sense, and a major source of frustration for the passengers. A private air charter is, evidently, impacted by the same factors, but not to the same extent, as you are about to find out. The versatility of private jets enables passengers to reach the destination even when all major airliners are grounded.
It’s not about ignoring the safety concerns
You might consider that the pilots of private jets elect to ignore the warnings and take off in spite of the inclement weather, but that simply isn’t true. Keep in mind that these charterers are still governed by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, and breaching the safety standards would result in losing their operating license as well as the license of the pilots flying the jets. So how come they are allowed to take off when commercial airliners are grounded, and what exactly does their versatility imply?
Size and airport options
Private jets are in generally considerably smaller aircrafts, which means that pilots can land them in airports with limited size runways. It is estimated that the number of airports that can accommodate private jets is ten times higher than the landing options of large commercial airliners. It is also necessary to point out that weather conditions vary remarkably over a relatively small region. While a certain city may be confronting with heavy snows and below freezing temperatures, the weather in the neighbouring one could permit flying unimpeded.
Furthermore, the extensive number of option allows the pilots of private jets to select a route that avoids risky weather conditions. Unlike commercial flights that have a more or less predefined, fuel-centric flight plan, a private charter could alter the course and perform extra fuelling stops to avoid flying into a thunderstorm, jet streams or fog.
Faster runway and aircraft prepping
There is yet another advantage that stems from the smaller aircrafts and shorter runways. Before a jet can take off, both it and the runway need to be de-iced. When we’re talking about a major airport with extensive runways while tens of flights arriving, de-icing the runway requires hours at a time. Best case scenario, your flight will be delayed by a few hours; worst case scenario, you’ll spend the holidays in the airport waiting for the weather to clear.
However, as previously mentioned, private jets can take off from airports with short runways, which can be de-iced much faster. Factor in the limited number of airplanes utilizing the runway, and you’ll understand why delays are minimal with private charters.
The private jets also need to be de-iced before departure, but once more their size represents an advantage. Clients of these jets typically have the option paying for the de-icing fluid – in part or fully – or opting in for the de-icing waiver clause of the rental contract that eliminates these costs for an extra fixed fee. Selecting the waiver is generally recommended in widespread cold weather that mandates several stops along the way for applying de-icing fluid.
Performing the de-icing is unfortunately not optional. The ice that accumulates on the aircraft decreases its overall performance and maximizes fuel consumption, which will reflect in the private jet price you will see in the invoice. In addition, there is the hazard that ice formations will block the controls and engines, making the aircraft a liability.
Flexibility in terms of departure times
In certain cases, pilots have to wait for a window of opportunity, a break in the weather that permits them to take off. Using state of the art meteorological equipment, private jet renters are able to determine with a certain degree of accuracy when that moment arises and discuss the optimal flight schedule with their clients. On the other hand, flying via commercial airliners implies that your options are limited to the predefined flight schedules, which don’t offer the same degree of flexibility because they also depend on whether the major airports are closed.
When you’re planning a trip for the upcoming holidays and you’re worried about the weather’s impact on the flight schedule of the commercial airliners, remember that chartering a private jet could represent a more viable solution. The flexibility brought by these smaller aircrafts in terms of routes, arrival/departure points, and the dedication of the companies to respecting the program of their clients are the features that recommend them over commercial flights, particularly in inclement weather conditions.
In other words, in spite of the fact that they are subjected to the same weather factors, private charters have implemented various protocols to ensure that clients won’t be forced to spend their holidays stuck in an airport!