When choosing a charter jet flight, you have access to information about each operator’s safety compliance. You can evaluate an operator’s ratings with ease due to the designation systems in place across the industry. Regardless of when or where you’re flying, safety should always be your first priority, and you can ensure your safety by understanding charter ratings.
In the charter aviation industry, safety ratings appear in a few different ways. The Aviation Research Group United States (ARGUS), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the WYVERN rating systems help to set the highest safety standards. Though each serves the same purpose, they hold companies to different standards and offer unique designations. It’s vital for jet flyers to be able to interpret these designations. A thorough understanding of these safety rating systems will help you make informed decisions when booking charter flights.
What Is ARGUS?
ARGUS is an independent safety rating system, producing safety grades and maintaining records for thousands of aircraft and pilots. ARGUS International was founded in 1995 and is the most detailed source of third-party ratings for charter operations. If you’ve viewed safety documentation for chartered flights before, you may be familiar with ARGUS safety rating levels.
What Information Is in ARGUS CHEQ Reports?
The ARGUS Charter Evaluation and Qualification (CHEQ) is the system for determining ARGUS ratings and other information. It includes details about:
- Historical safety ratings.
- Current aircraft.
- Pilot background checks.
- On-site safety audits.
CHEQ reports show a status of red, yellow, or green, with the following meanings:
- Red: Red indicates a known deficiency or refusal to disclose information.
- Yellow: Yellow means some data is missing, data is unverified, or data does not meet ARGUS standards.
- Green: A green rating shows an ARGUS rating of Gold, Gold Plus, or Platinum, meaning all requirements are met.
In addition to the color-indicated status, the CHEQ report also includes information about the broker, flight summary, operator, ARGUS rating, pilot, second in command, and any important aircraft information. To earn a green status, the flight must meet the following requirements.
For the flight to receive a green status, the pilot-in-command must have:
- At least 3,000 hours total flight time.
- At least 1,500 hours of pilot-in-command time.
- At least 250 hours of pilot-in-command time for the aircraft type.
- An Airline Transport Pilot certificate.
- A type rating for the aircraft.
- A current first class medical certificate.
- A current instrument proficiency check, line check, and route check.
- A lack of significant accidents, incidents, and enforcement actions within the last three years.
- A salaried employment with the operator, not a contract.
These qualifications ensure a well-qualified, professional pilot for your chartered flight.
The second-in-command must also meet strict standards for the flight to earn a green status. The second-in-command must have:
- At least 1,000 hours total flight time.
- At least 500 hours pilot-in-command time.
- A commercial and multi-engine instrument rating.
- Current second class medical certificate.
- A current instrument proficiency check, line check, and route check.
- A lack of significant accidents, incidents, or enforcement actions within the last three years.
In addition to the standards for the pilot and co-pilot, the aircraft itself must be under the operational control of a certified operator, with no damage or maintenance concerns and qualified insurance.
As you can tell, the CHEQ report provides access to vital safety information. Among the information it provides is the ARGUS safety rating, illustrated with a seal of the corresponding color. It’s important to understand the hierarchy of ARGUS ratings and what each seal signifies.
ARGUS Rating Levels
Using past information and detailed analyses, ARGUS produces safety ratings. Once ARGUS has gathered all necessary data, the due diligence company utilizes a proprietary algorithm for scoring. The ARGUS rating system indicates performance compared to peers. ARGUS compares safety history and data with that of peers in an aggregate group. Ratings have three levels — gold, gold plus, and platinum — with additional standards for each. Some may not qualify for any of the three ratings.
Does Not Qualify (DNQ)
A failure to meet ARGUS standards will result in a rating of Does Not Qualify (DNQ). A DNQ rating can result from poor safety history shown in the collected data. It can also derive from a significant safety issue with a pilot or aircraft or a failure to complete an on-site safety audit. In most cases, it’s possible to correct the issues leading to a DNQ rating.
The ARGUS Gold rating indicates the charter operator meets or exceeds ARGUS standards — the company does not have outstanding safety issues or a poor safety history. To qualify for a Gold rating, the charter operator must have:
- An operating certificate of at least a year.
- At least one turbine aircraft on certificate.
- A historical safety analysis.
- A pilot background check.
- An aircraft operational control validation.
ARGUS Gold Plus
Gold Plus represents an upgrade from Gold. To earn a Gold Plus rating through ARGUS, the operator must meet all of the standards to achieve Gold, along with an ARGUS on-site safety audit or registration with the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations. The audit must result in uncorrected findings to qualify for Gold Plus.
The highest ARGUS rating level is Platinum. To achieve a platinum rating, the operator must meet all of the standards of Gold Plus, as well as have an emergency response plan and a functioning safety management system. The emergency response plan must be clear and easy to follow, and the safety management system must be well-developed.
Only operators with the most effective policies and procedures and excellent records can hope to earn an ARGUS Platinum rating. Among the ARGUS platinum charter companies is Latitude 33, demonstrating a high commitment to safety. Only 5% of all charter companies have achieved ARGUS Platinum status, so this is a major achievement.
How to Check ARGUS Ratings
Checking ARGUS ratings is an important way to ensure the highest safety standards. You can check ARGUS operator ratings using the CHEQ ARGUS operator registry. The registry shows each company’s name and logo along with their ARGUS rating, certificate number, homebase code, and the number of aircraft on the certificate. You’ll have the option to search by airport, distance, name, or rating. The database does not include companies that do not qualify or are not rated.
What Is an ARGUS Certified Broker?
ARGUS addressed the lack of regulation in charter brokerage by creating a certification process. The company provides certification to brokers following a thorough evaluation. To determine qualification, ARGUS evaluates financial reports, policy and procedure manuals, insurance filings, and other documents. Then, ARGUS conducts an on-site audit, which includes interviews, management analyses, and an evaluation of organizational processes. Throughout the audit, ARGUS notes a commitment to safety standards and best practices. With the broker certification program, ARGUS allows brokers to demonstrate their competency.
What Is the WYVERN Rating System?
WYVERN is another independent company supplying ratings and certifications. The company creates and updates safety criteria and conducts regular audits. It also provides safety intelligence data, leader training, and software solutions. Through WYVERN, charter operators and brokers can achieve certification.
What Is the WYVERN Wingman Certification?
The WYVERN Wingman program offers safety certification for charter operators. WYVERN Wingman operators show an elevated commitment to safety. They have to meet strict criteria, undergo regular audits, and keep WYVERN updated about any operational changes to maintain their Wingman status. WYVERN registration and Wingman certification are not equivalent.
To be WYVERN Registered, an operator must simply supply WYVERN with their records, which WYVERN makes available to clients. Registered operators maintain accurate, detailed, and accessible records. The WYVERN Registered program offers improved visibility among brokers, corporations, and other operators. It also helps reduce legal liability and ensure safety.
Not all WYVERN registered operators have Wingman certification, which involves compliance with much more stringent standards. Earning the status of a WYVERN Wingman operator requires:
- Minimum piloting hours.
- An initial audit, including an on-site, two-day safety advisor visit.
- Follow-up audits every 24 months.
- Regular updates about operational changes.
WYVERN often updates its Wingman standards. Certification is an ongoing process. Operators that earn Wingman status have access to WYVERN’s safety data and Aviation Compliance Enhancement System.
What Is the Pilot and Aircraft Safety Survey (PASS)?
WYVERN publishes Pilot and Aircraft Safety Survey (PASS) reports. A flight’s PASS report designates whether or not the operator, aircraft, and crew have met basic safety standards or WYVERN safety ratings. The PASS report is based on:
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines.
- Safety Management International Collaboration Group standards.
- Industry best practices.
How to Check an Operator’s Registration Status
Wingman certification shows an ongoing dedication to high safety standards — it’s recognized around the globe as a symbol of high-quality aviation. It’s easy to find Wingman-certified operators or check an operator’s registration status using the WYVERN registered directory. It allows you to search by operator name or by city, state, or country.
What Are WYVERN Certified Brokers?
WYVERN’s recently implemented certified broker program provides a competitive edge to aviation brokers. To qualify for certification, a broker must submit to an audit by an accredited aviation safety auditor and demonstrate high ethical standards in all of their policies and procedures. You can check the WYVERN broker directory to find certified brokers or check a broker’s membership status. You can search by member name, city, state, or country.
Authorized WYVERN brokers can let their clients have access to WYVERN Wingman flights. They can send their clients PASS reports as proof of an operator’s commitment to safety, as well as provide data about aircraft operators.
How Do ARGUS and WYVERN Ratings Compare to IS-BAO?
Another system for charter safety ratings is the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), first developed in 2002. IBAC created this standard to establish best practices among operators. It’s accepted worldwide as a benchmark for aircraft safety. The guidelines it provides are based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).
IBAC is always improving IS-BAO standards, seeking input from aviation organizations. To qualify for IS-BAO certification, an operator must:
- Meet Safety Management System (SMS) requirements.
- Undergo regular audits, each of which takes place over several days.
- Hold up to scrutiny about personnel, training, maintenance, security, and other standards.
After conducting regular audits and evaluating an operator’s safety standards, the IBAC awards companies with certification at Stage One, Two, or Three, in ascending order:
- Stage One: At IS-BAO Stage One, an operator has demonstrated the establishment of an appropriate SMS.
- Stage Two: It takes several years to reach Stage Two, which shows effective and ongoing management of safety risks.
- Stage Three: Maturing to IS-BAO Stage Three shows an ingrained and evolving safety management culture.
What Do the Safety Ratings Mean for Charter Jet Passengers?
Safety ratings help charter jet passengers make informed decisions. When booking a private charter flight, you may find yourself overwhelmed with operators to choose from. You can narrow down similar options and make the safest choice by using the rating systems in place. You’ll want to pay attention to the ARGUS rating tier system, WYVERN Wingman certification and PASS reports, as well as the IS-BAO stages.
Simple to Interpret
These three rating systems are the most common. They’re also simple for non-aviation experts to interpret, with their complex regulations summarized in seals or certificates. You do not need to research everything about aircraft safety to ensure your charter jet operator will comply with the highest standards. Instead, all you have to do is look for an ARGUS medal, Wingman seal, or IS-BAO registration stage.
Easy to Vet Operators
The rating systems make it easier and quicker to vet operators. You can use one of the third-party directories to search only operators with specific certifications or check that a preferred operator meets safety standards. To help you choose the best charter jet operator, always request safety reports.
Book Your Next Charter Flight With Latitude 33 Aviation
Charter safety rating systems have created industry standards that ensure pilots and co-pilots are experienced and have flown without incident. They also ensure aircraft are in excellent condition.
When the time comes to book your next charter flight, look for official safety ratings through ARGUS, WYVERN, or IS-BAO. Pick from the top-rated companies, who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to their passengers’ safety.
Among the highest safety-rated charter jet companies is Latitude 33 Aviation. Here at Latitude 33, our stringent protocols and practices have earned us a Platinum ARGUS rating — the highest possible rating in the system. Latitude 33 Aviation is part of the top five percent of U.S. private jet charter operators to achieve the stringent ARGUS Platinum safety rating. Our Platinum rating means we’ve had an excellent safety history, and our pilots have passed rigorous background checks. In addition, we maintain a highly functional SMS and an emergency response plan.
When you fly with us, you’ll know your safety is in capable hands. We also offer a range of aircraft in various sizes to meet your exact requirements. Whether you’re flying for business or leisure, our services prioritize your convenience and privacy along with your safety. Enjoy the unmatched experience of Latitude 33 Aviation — get in touch to request a quote today.
To learn more about our services, call 1-800-840-0310 or contact us online today.