We’ve been working on a way to help pilots ﬂy more, help flight schools and FBOs that rent aircraft book more revenue, and get more great rental customers. OpenAirplane will make it easy to ﬁnd, book, ﬂy, and pay for aircraft rental online or with a mobile device. Last week we started giving the world a peek at what our team has been quietly working on for eight months.
The team behind OpenAirplane started with the hypothesis that if together we reduced the hassle in renting airplanes, all our pilot certificates would become much more valuable. We imagined ﬂying on the airlines from Chicago to Miami, easily booking the same make / model we ﬂy at home, learning about local procedures on our own time, and then showing up to be handed the keys and clipboard to ﬂy down to The Keys for lunch. We imagined renting an airplane like we rent cars. We imagined doing a checkout locally, then using that credential around the country without having to invest half a day and hundreds of dollars in checking out, yet again, every time.
Ninety-six percent of pilots we surveyed told us they would ﬂy more when away from home, if the process was simpler. Fifty-one percent said it was the complicated checkout that kept them away. Twenty-eight percent said it was just too hard to ﬁnd an airplane. How often would we rent cars if we were required to take the kid from behind the car rental counter around the parking lot three times before we got the keys? We see the hassle in renting airplanes today eroding everybody’s business.
OpenAirplane will offer operators a standardization / evaluation program that everyone can live with. Pilots will have the opportunity to demonstrate they are capable of ﬂying to the standard, but not forced to repeat the performance at every new FBO or school they want to do business with. We’ll give both pilots and operators a new transparency so that both can choose who they do business with. We’ll incentivize good behavior on both sides of the transaction. This will be good for both the pilots and the operators who rent to them.
As we talk to operators around the country, here are some of the top questions folks ask:
Q: Have you talked to my aviation insurance agency? What do they think?
We’ve developed OpenAirplane to help your insurance carrier be comfortable with how our stan / eval program helps you managed risk. Our launch partner Starr Aviation has approved our operations plan, and we’re talking with more providers. If we haven’t spoken directly to the particular company that underwrites your aircraft policy yet, just point us in the right direction.
Q: How much will it cost for us to list aircraft on OpenAirplane?
Participating in OpenAirplane will be free for operators. OpenAirplane will only collect fees when we enable ﬂying that typically wouldn’t happen otherwise. We’ll keep a small percentage of the rental revenue to keep the lights on.
Q: What about the revenue I could lose from checkouts we’re giving today?
Aircraft that ﬂy more are more proﬁtable. Since we know that today’s rental experience may be chasing away 96 percent of your customers, we think participating in OpenAirplane will actually increase your revenue. Operators that participate in the network will be the ones to provide the standardized checkout on an annual basis. This checkout could also be credited as a flight review or IPC that the pilot could then use to ﬂy at other bases across our network. Pilots should end up ﬂying more checkouts with you, because you’ll be offering a checkout which is more valuable than ever before.
Q: What’s the OpenAirplane checkout like?
OpenAirplane stan/eval program will standardize what it means to provide a checkout on the ground and in the air. It will be a pass / fail event that allows the best renters to demonstrate their proﬁciency to ﬂy as pilot in command of your rental aircraft on an annual basis.
Q: We’ve got a shiny [insert high performance or rare aircraft here] can you help us rent it more often?
OpenAirplane checkouts will be make / model specific. Each pilot will ﬂy an initial checkout in each airframe they choose to ﬂy, and we’ll offer an abbreviated checkout to add additional airframes. For example, a pilot who checks out in your school’s Beechcraft Bonanza would then get access to all similar Bonanzas around the country.
We think that by reducing the hassle, private aviation could be a much more viable business tool or recreational choice for pilots if together we take the friction out of the system. Together we can make it easier for customers to do business with our industry.
Operators who would like to participate in the OpenAirplane are welcome to contact Jason Hoffman at [email protected], Jason’s our guy when it comes to recruiting, on boarding, and supporting our growing network of operators. General questions about OpenAirplane can always go to [email protected].
And please tell us what you think of the concept in the comments section.
–Rod Rakic, co-founder of OpenAirplane