OpenAirplane is, very simply, a program to qualify a pilot to rent a plane from any in-network FBO in the country, without a local checkout.
In 2011, general aviation flight hours totaled 26.3 million. Of that, 10.9 million hours were in single-engine piston aircraft, with 4.9 million in the rental market. OpenAirplane intends to make a measurable impact on the rental market.
“Our research tells us that 96% of respondents would rent more if the process were simpler,” continued Rakic. “Our goal is to make renting a plane as simple as renting a car.”
In order to qualify as a renter, a pilot will have to pass a universal pilot checkout (UPC) at any of the participating FBOs. The UPC is a pass/fail checkout, and once passed will also reset the clock on an FAA Flight Review as well as qualify for the FAA Wings program.
The accident rate for all of general aviation operations is 7.7 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, according to Rakic. Meanwhile the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has an accident rate of just 2.8 accidents per 100,000 flight hours.
“Why create something from scratch when a model already exists,” noted Rakic. “The CAP conducts rigorous annual UPCs.”
HOW IT WORKS
The program is completely web-based. It has been developed for the mobile platform first, tablet or phone.
When a member launches the application, they will see a very simple interface asking them, “Where do you want to fly?” Type in the location and OpenAirplane will return results showing airports with qualifying aircraft for rent in that area. A user can view the results, look at aircraft detail and rental rates and then book rental time, all from the app.
Once the flight is complete, the user will log the Hobbs and tach time. OpenAirplane will then calculate the total rental fee, add 10% for the service and charge the credit card on file.
The FBO gets paid, the pilot has gotten to fly, and OpenAirplane makes some money it will pore back into system.
The kicker of the system is that the pilot will have gotten to fly without requiring a local checkout, which can add several hundred dollars, not to mention precious time.
At present, OpenAirplane is still in development and seeking investors to speed up the schedule. Since SUN ‘n FUN this spring OpenAirplane has signed up 3,100 pilots interested in the program and has heard from more than a dozen FBOs.
If you are interesting in knowing more, sign up at the OpenAirplane website.