"Nationwide" airplane rental - why not?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Jeff Oslick, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    I'd like to throw this out there for discussion-

    As most of us realize, a critical shortcoming of general aviation is the inability to truly "rent on demand". There is no analogy to the car rental business. Whether you rent aircraft, or own your own and travel (via airlines) to other parts of the country where it would make sense to rent to fly to a more local destination, the current FBO structure and checkout/insurance requirements do not allow for practical, widespread use of the single engine GA rental fleet for medium-distance transportation.

    Some of the fractional ownership plans have a selling point that you can use their planes based anywhere in the country, but you need to own a very expensive share of a very expensive airplane to do it. Why hasn't anyone come up with a broader plan for rentals? Cessna has how many affliated FBO's (Cessna Pilot Centers (CPC)) now? I see the ramps filled at many airports with late model (less than 5-yr old) 172s. On weekdays in particular, many of these planes sit idle much of the day.

    I would think it would be in Cessna's interest to promote a "national" aircraft rental program. Other manufacturers could surely try it too, but Cessna would probably have the most luck, since a very large percentage of the pilot population has, at least at some point, checked-out in a 172.

    The way I see it working, you'd go to a CPC for a one-time checkout. They would give you a typical, but thorough checkout in 172. They'd take a digital photo of you, and you'd get a photo ID that identified you as qualified to rent from any CPC. There would need to be a recurrency check - similar to a BFR (and could count as a BFR). Maybe you need to present a log book to show you have some currency (90 day?) in model too. There would be a centralized insurance policy to cover all of the CPC-nationwide rental activities. Maybe you pay an annual fee to participate, or it's just built into an hourly rate. (Insurance charge could be waived if you present evidence of equal coverage, similar to rental cars).

    Obviously there are many other details to consider, but why do you think this concept has never developed? I've heard of some small attempts to start stuff like this, but never promoted by a major GA manufacturer.

    What do you think?

    Jeff
     
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  2. MSmith

    MSmith Line Up and Wait

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    Well, it would require a national contract with FBO's. That's how the rental car industry works - the franchise agreements handle one-way rentals.

    Then, you have to consider the costs to fly those one-way rentals back. I could see them doing that with pilot specials ("fly free for repositioning").

    Last, many FBO's don't really own the planes - they're owned by someone else with a lease arrangement. Rental car companies OWN the cars.

    However, if you're just trying to centralize checkouts rather than plane ownership, that'd be a good idea.

    It wouldn't have to be a manufacturer - I could see Piper Owners doing this for Pipers. The key is checking out the CFI's who do the checkouts, for standardization.

    Not a bad idea.
     
  3. John J

    John J Line Up and Wait

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    Jeff;

    It is a great ideal you have for the many pilots who may not afford a plane. I remember when Beech tried to do this with their "Aero Clubs". you could do a local check out and by being a member of the Aero Club you could fly the equivalent plane at another location. It was a good effort but there were so many scheduling problems that hindered the ideal. I do remember in the late 1950's the Hertz car folks teamed up with Cessna to rent planes. It was short lived for again was the logistics and record keeping problems.

    Now with computer networks etc. I feel it could work out real well. Also as Mark says it could be for the verious aircraft owners associations could work out a program with those who want to rent. Finally it is a way for potiential aircraft buyers to "test out different types of planes" before purchase.

    Good Ideal

    John J
     
  4. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    I'd see this primarily used for return-to-same-FBO rentals, though if you read the previous thread on "Is this a 135 op?", I think there are ways to improve the situation for one-way rentals too, by using a ride-along commercial pilot (does get expensive though).

    I think for certain common routes, and particularly in areas with generally good weather (California & the southwest), one-way rentals would work fairly well if there is roughly equal demand in both directions.

    I don't think the issue of lease-backs would be a problem, so long as the insurance coverage was the same.

    Although I agree it wouldn't necessarily take a manufacturer to implement the program, I think they would have the biggest financial incentive to do it (more new airplane sales).
     
  5. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I doubt too many CFI's or FBO's would go for it. That's a free hour of pay the CFI's lose, and an hour of time the FBO's lose on a checkout. The only reason I say "free" hour is because, really, how much 'work' is done by the CFI on a checkout when you show a log book with 150 hours of time in the plane?
     
  6. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Yup. I remember being "checked out" by a young CFI in a rental Mooney 201 shortly after I sold mine. After I spent an hour showing him where the static system drains were and how not to bounce landings, I paid him for the privilege and ended up never renting the airplane anyway.

    Is this a great business or what?
     
  7. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    I don't think there would be much, if any, lost time for the FBOs or CFIs. If anything, I think it would get more pilots into the rental system, and maybe even recruit more pilots in general.

    I own, but I also travel commercially a fair amount to places that I would like to rent locally, but, don't want to go through the hassle/expense of a checkout, and don't go often enough to maintain the FBO's required currency. I would, however, be willing to pay for an initial checkout for the system, and for reasonable recurrency checks, and maybe even something like a $50/year administrative fee.

    This system would also give me more options when my plane is down for maintenance.

    Jeff
     
  8. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    To me, the beauty of such a system would be to fly commercially to a convenient airport, the get an aerial flivver rather than a rental car to go to where you REALLY want to go, which may not be accessible by airline.
     
  9. John J

    John J Line Up and Wait

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    I wish when I was on heavy business travel I had this type of system to get to the final destination. Also I can see this becoming a great way to attract new pilots.

    John J
     
  10. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    An outfit called "Lease-a-Plane" tried this about 30-35 years ago. Not enough folks were interested to make it fly on its own, and local FBO's saw little to gain by joining the network. It died after a few years.
     
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  11. gibbons

    gibbons En-Route

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    I remember that Ron. I couldn't remember what it was called but knew it only lasted a few years. Still, it does sound like a good idea.
     
  12. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This seems like it would be an awesome idea. Rent one place, to fly to another place, where you're gonna stay. Perhaps pay more per hour than normal in some instances if it's an unusual place, so that another pilot could then ferry the flight back to the original location.

    It would be a great time-building job, and it would be very helpful for pilots looking for one way rental.

    Heck - it works for uhaul and ryder.
     
  13. bbchien

    bbchien Final Approach

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    Can you say, "liability"?
     
  14. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Bruce-

    Why would the liability be any different than any other rental? As I described in my original post, I see the entire operation being conducted under a single insurance policy - same as if you signed up for the "optional" coverage with Hertz or Avis. The insurance companies would probably love this, because it would be new-ish planes (higher hull value to insure), but customers operating under a fairly standardized check out and recurrency program in a single model of (simple) aircraft, so at least on paper it could be safer than the "average" flight. Cost more? Sure, but not significant in the grand scheme of costs.

    Jeff

    edit: And, because I think this may be what you're getting at - the pool of "ferry pilots" would have significant training & currency in what is (again) a simple aircraft.
     
  15. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII En-Route

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    It would be nice, but there's no where near enough pilots or demand for it. When pilots are flying nationwide like people rent cars (never gonna happen) and moving trucks, then let's talk.

    Besides, it's no big deal to checkout & rent. I've done it in Hawahi, NYC, Pheonix, S. Carolina, no problem.
     
  16. bstratt

    bstratt Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think the fly and drop scenario has difficulties but I like the idea of flying commercially somewhere, then renting a plane for a day or two and dropping it back at the same FBO.

    This is similar to what Harley does. Last year I flew commercial into Las Vegas, rented a Harley and toured for three days (note avatar). This year I and two friends are doing the same thing for 5 days over the July 4th weekend.

    Really the only thing required would be some form of nationally recognized "check ride" for insurance purposes. Why couldn't Cessna or Piper coordinate for their planes by issuing a "sign off" that you're proficient in a 172 or PA28? As the check ride is for insurance purposes it would really be a negotiation with the insurance companies for them to recognize the checkride. Obviously you'd need additional sign offs as necessary for HP, Complex, mountain flying, etc.
     
  17. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One thing you get when you check out in a plane you're already familiar with at an FBO away from home is an introduction to the local area. For someone without a lot of x/c time that can be very valuable.

    In any case I suspect the biggest problem would be getting enough FBO's to sign up. I suspect that most wouldn't see much benefit, and someone's going to have to pay for the effort in setting it up and maintaining it. Perhaps the out of town renter's would be OK with a $20 surcharge to cover that and give the FBO something as well. When an FBO does a checkout for $120/hr the FBO only gets a small fraction of the total cost of the checkout.
     
  18. Jim Chumley

    Jim Chumley Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lotta comments on this one. Like someone else said, 'it's been tried'. I knew of such an outfit circa 1980. I can't remember their name. They had an office in St Petersburg International, FL (PIE) and they used new Pipers, all set up and equipped the same. The theory was you could step from one plane into another and never miss a beat...same panels. Rent here, leave it there. They had weather access terminals at each office. They had plans to set offices up in several locations around Florida and other states. They faded away. I have seen nor heard nothing from that concept since then.

    Jim
     
  19. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    I wonder though, as John J mentioned earlier, whether the internet and ubiquitous coporate computer networks would make this a much more viable venture than it was 20 years ago.

    Jef
     
  20. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Pre-Flight

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    The difference is that Hertz and Avis own over a million cars between the two of them... Enterprise alone bought a half million cars last year... They can spread their risks around a lot further, and claims are a lot smaller, compared to the overall revenue they produce.

    When people start flying in numbers with a lot more zeros at the end, this might happen. Until then... :(
     
  21. Flyboy

    Flyboy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've seen a couple of these try to start up over the last 20 years but they never got to far due to liablilty concerns and the lack of a customer base. The closest things to them were the old style Cessna Piper and Beech pilot centers where at least you could be asured of decent lat model aircraft to rent.
     
  22. corjulo

    corjulo Line Up and Wait

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    Great idea but the Doctor is right. Getting aviation insurance is reaching crisis levels. Our club was just denied insurance by no fewer then 7 companies. The policy we have increased 40% so we shopped around. Lots of reason sighted, from ratio of active members to plane to the number of CFI's in the club. The aviation act of 1998 only seems to have helped a little. I can't see any company willing to write coverage for something like that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2005
  23. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Alluded to above... on each of the local checkouts I have gotten, besides showing the checkout instructor that I could, in fact, fly a 172, the greater value was the extensive information that they imparted about local operating details... the "tips and tricks" unique to their airspace and conditions.

    I found that very valuable, and worth the extra bucks.

    Now, as my range of experience gets greater, maybe I'll credit that less. Or maybe not.

    Anyhow, it all comes down to (1) the planes are almost all owned by individuals andleased back, and (2) insurance.
     
  24. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I can't imagine there'd be that much of a lack of customers. Pilots need rentals, and pilots want to go places.

    For example, if I want to fly to Winston-Salem from Albuquerque, its cost prohibitive to do it in a rental at the moment, because of the per day minimum. If I could do it as 2 one way rentals, it would be much cheaper.

    Seriously, this is a business idea that needs to get off the ground!
     
  25. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You need to work on your imagination. If it had been a viable concept, it would have worked. And that was back in the day when the pilot population was a significant number, airplanes were cheaper and gas was affordable.


     
  26. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Wow. This might be a record for longest down time on a thread resurrection.
     
  27. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've wondered if you couldn't get a network of flying clubs together for this type of thing, where if you're a member of one, you can fly planes at other affiliated clubs. It could start small, adding affiliates over time. Definitely no "one-way" rentals in that scenario, but if I were going somewhere and needed a bird to get from the commercial airport to somewhere I wanted to be, it would work well.
     
  28. jtheune

    jtheune En-Route

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    The military flight clubs work this way. I don't recall if they had any checkout requirements but I do recall when I was in the Army club in Maryland going out to Seattle with a letter of good standing that was supposed to allow me to fly their planes.
     
  29. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Waitaminute... Cost prohibitive because of the per-day minimum? I don't buy that. How long are you staying for? That's going to be at least a 26-hour round trip in a C172 or equivalent, and most FBO's have a 2-hour-per-day minimum, giving you two weeks to get the plane back without running into any per-day charges at all. If you're staying for 3-4 weeks at a time, then maybe it would be "much cheaper."
     
  30. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    See post #10..
     
  31. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, true, but I would assume that with the advanced marketing techniques we have these days that it would work better now.

    Plus - rather than setting up a club type thing, where FBOs can join, I'm thinking more like a chain that sets up rental outfits across the country.
     
  32. RMCN172RG

    RMCN172RG Pattern Altitude

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  33. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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  34. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    i bet there are fewer pilots and fewer airports now than there were then.
     
  35. Areeda

    Areeda Pattern Altitude

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    And gas was a bit cheaper back then (in real $).

    I've brought up in our flying club Board meetings the idea of cooperative agreements with other clubs. I'm frankly amazed at the lack of interest to downright antagonism to the idea.
     
  36. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Nick resurrected at least two 2005 threads today; I think he's doing it on purpose. ;-)
     
  37. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Certainly the PRICES haven't changed a bit!

    I expect somebody will tell us what that is, adjusted for inflation, and we'll see we're all flying for close to "free" now in comparison.

    P.S.--How'd they figure "flight mile" in 1958? A GPS could tell you today, on the trip page. Wonder if they were using an average speed/time calculation... if so, why not just bill by time?
     
  38. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Well. $1.50 is more like $11 now.

    13 cents per mile, 120 miles, is $15.60. In today's money that is $114.45.

    $114.45 + 11 = $124.45 per hour. That is about the going rate for a new-ish Cessna 172. Older airplanes can be rented for much less in many parts of the country.
     
  39. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Even before GPS you could use this thing called a "map" to tell you where two points were on the Earth. Then using some fancy math you could calculate a distance between these two points with astonishing accuracy. Often the math was greatly simplified by a device called a slide-rule.
     
  40. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    I suspect they didn't bill by the mile - but used that for their marketing efforts as that's what a non-pilot would be able to understand.