Grey charter or illegal business jet charter
Scenario 1: A friend offers you a ride on their helicopter or business jet. You accept. It crashes and you get hurt. Their insurance covers you.
Scenario 2: You book a charter flight with a reputable charter company. The aircraft crashes. You are insured.
Scenario 3: A friend offers you a ride on their helicopter or business jet in return for cash or even another service like a week on their yacht. You are not insured if anything happens.
Scenario 4: You book a charter flight with a dodgy charter broker. They use an aircraft that is only insured for private use. It crashes. You are not insured.
Business aviation is extremely safe. Charter aircraft operate to the same safety standards as airlines and operators are constantly looking for ways to reduce risk. However, it is worth being sensible.
If you book business aviation flights you should always make sure that you are flying on an aircraft that is able to carry paying passengers – and if you own your own aircraft you should not make the mistake of being paid (even a few nights in a hotel).
There are lots of disadvantages with grey charter, but the biggest argument is that it is illegal and that you are not insured.
Aviation insurers do not look for reasons not to pay claims but it is illegal for an insurer to pay a claim resulting from illegal activity (like grey charter). If it is proved that the aircraft is involved in illegal activity the owner of the aircraft and the passengers are no longer covered.
If an aircraft that is being operated illegally crashes, the owners, operator and pilots are almost certain to face criminal prosecution in the event of an accident and jail. This is a massive risk if you have just taken a small amount of cash from a friend as a contribution towards fuel. The friend may not sue you but their estate might in the event of an accident.
The good news for buyers of charter flights is that no reputable broker will ever suggest a grey charter aircraft. They will match the aircraft’s aircraft operating certificate with the aircraft and only use reputable operators. If you are an owner using an operator or manager they will manage you.
Grey charter may sound innocuous but the risks outweigh any benefit.