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Winter weather and airplane De-icing

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The Midwest has seen an unusual amount of warm weather this winter.  Normally this would be welcome, but for those of us in aviation, it actually causes problems.  When the temperature is within a close range of the freezing mark,  ground icing can actually be a problem.  Our aircraft have to be de iced with what amounts to RV anti Freeze (Glycol) and if there is active snow or rain falling,  then we also have a time limit that we must takeoff within or the de ice fluid loses its’ effectiveness.  When this happens we have to de ice again!

At American Business AIrways we try to give you a firm quote for your trip. the only times, normally, we have to charge a bit extra after the flight is completed is when a customer stays on the ground longer than estimated in the quote, or there are extensive in flight ATC delays or reroutes and these are actually rare.  Another area where we would have to charge you extra after the flight is completed is on international flights, as we may not be billed by customs or another country’s air traffic control for months later.

But in the winter,  We do not know if we will need to de ice or how much we will need when we quote the flight. Instead of just charging  you an average, we try to keep your cost down.  So in the event that we do have to de ice the airplane on your trip, we will have to bill the cost after your trip is completed.  We hope our customers understand that there is just no way to charge this up front and be fair to everyone.  Many times we can actually save money by putting the airplane in a hangar overnight, we might still have to de ice just before departure, but the amount of fluid needed would be less.  The economics of this depend on what the airport will charge for an overnight hangar.   we will always try to get you the best price.   Glycol costs about $15 per gallon, however, it is usually diluted with hot water, so it does go along way.  usually this winter we have been averaging about $200 to de ice the airplane.

Once in the air, the airplanes on board de ice and anti ice systems can usually take care of the ice found in flight, if not, we can change altitude to find a level that is ice free or at least one were the ice accumulates at a rate the airplane can handle.  and rarely there are times where not matter what we have on board, the ice is too great to safely fly.  even the airlines run into this.  its is rare however and we would know this before takeoff and delay the departure.

Some of the systems we have on the Navajo are also common to jets and some are more commonly found on smaller airplanes.  these include a heated windshield, heated instrument sensors (pilot tube and static ports)  Heated propeller blades and pneumatic de ice boots on the wings and tails.   The last two you may notice operating.   the heated propeller blades will actually sling ice off the blades as it forms and you may hear this as something hitting the airplane and regular intervals.   the airplane has shields on the nose to prevent dents.  if you hear this do not be alarmed, the airplane is doing what it is designed to do.   The Wing and tail boots you might see operate as they inflate to crack formed ice, the air then carriers it away.

With proper equipment, winter flying is safe and actually enjoyable once you get airborne, the airplane actually performs better and uses less runway.  most of the time except during and active storm, the clouds tops are very low and you will be flying in sunshine for most of the flight.  With the extra procedures however, sometimes it takes a little longer to get going.  We recommend that our customers leave a little extra time to get the their destination to allow for de icing and weather delays.

About Private Air Charter pricing

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Many people new to executive aircraft charters have questions on pricing.  Most common the per seat cost.  USUALLY, private airplane charters are not sold by the seat but by the airplane flight hour or miles.  Most passenger charters are priced by the hour and most cargo charters are by the mile.  Some companies also price their passenger charters by the mile.  It dose not really matter if the quoted price for the basic transportation is a fixed price.   Simply stated you are renting the ENTIRE airplane for the flight time you have it, regardless of how many passengers are on board the airplane.    The more passengers you have the lower the per seat cost, but air charters are very similar to renting a limousine, you pay by the hour.  Many companies charge either a daily crew fee or charge hourly to cover the pilot waiting time.   usually jet and turbo props have a daily crew rate and most companies operating smaller piston aircraft will charge an hourly fee up to a maximum per day, they do this because wait times for the piston twin segment of the market tend to be shorter and this segment of the market tends to be more price sensitive.

IF the company quotes you a fixed guaranteed price, either hourly or by the mile, they are betting that they can do the trip in that amount of time and still make money.  If they reserve the right to charge you additional time after the fact, then they can give you a lower quoted price but might have to charge you actual hours.

Then there is the pilot wait or daily fees.  The pilots still have to be paid even though they are waiting for your return and no matter how a company prices the flight, they still have to account for employee costs.  This is why you want to get a final quote with all fees included so you can compare apples to apples.  A listed hourly rate on the internet is not enough to go by, call the company, get a quote and then compare.  Let the company know you are comparing prices from several operators and if you plan to fly on a regular basis, let them know that also.   It is worth something to the company to have known future flying instead of ad hoc last minute trips, so they might give you a discount.

Additional fees you might have are fuel surcharges (American Business Airways does not as yet charge these unless it is for a brokered flight from another company).  Foreign Air Traffic control fees, customs fees,  Waiting fees,  ramp, overnight and landing fees.  Crew overnight expenses.   These should all be included in any quote you receive.

At American Business Airways, we give you a firm price and, except for  ground waiting time (if you go over your estimate), de-iceing costs,   and Air Traffic control fees charged by some foreign countries and customs,   this is the price you pay.  We can not fix these extra costs  because they are so variable, but most trips, these do not even come into play!

What has Les Brown been doing?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Hi everyone,

The winter was pretty slow for aircraft charters in Michigan,  most of my time was spent reconnecting with business partners and getting the word out that we exist.  In speaking with other companies, I have been told that people  did not even know we exist!   So this year I will try to get the word out more and in that spirit am asking you, our customers and blog readers to pass our name onto others that might have a need to charter an airplane.

On the personal flying side of life,  I have signed up to fly for Pilots and Paws.  This is a non profit organization that flies rescued dogs (and some cats) from rescue shelters to foster homes across the country.  Without this service, many more shelter animals would be put down because of the lack of local foster families.  With pilots and paws, rescue organizations can extend their reach all over the country.

My wife and I just flew our first rescue flight to transport a pregnant Rat Terrier from Ohio to West Michigan.  It was a very rewarding feeling and Liz the rattie slept most of the way.  The flight happened not a moment too soon as Liz gave birth to 6 puppies the next day!

if you would like more information, check out the website at:

On the business front, the Chieftain has just come through a 100hour/ annual inspection with very few items needing to be repaired.    It is now all set for the upcoming spring and summer travel season.    We have been keeping close contacts with our industry partners who supply you with other airplanes when the Navajo is not available or is not right for your trip.  We now have access to turbo props and jets from 8 seats to a 9 passenger falcon 50.