Flying private for pennies on the dollar is great in theory. But the recent proliferation of such booking services – the companies often do not own nor operate the aircraft used to fly passengers – does raise some interesting questions regarding aircraft maintenance and liability, as passengers booked on a “Wheels Up” trip found out a couple months ago when leaving San Francisco. Their Cessna Citation (N506UP) was unable to climb above 2000 feet and was forced to return to the airport after a door “flew off the aircraft” on departure. Here’s the audio/transcript from LiveATC.Net:
And here’s the FlightAware track log showing it never really getting anywhere: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N509UP/history/20150806/1615Z/KSFO/KRDM/tracklog. Total trip was about 12 minutes.
Yes, maintenance issues can happen anywhere, but this sort of thing – especially where the company a customer books with has zero direct control or management – worries the heck out of me. It is worth noting that the aircraft was back in service a few days later so it wasn’t a major issue, but still…
Also, please stop calling these companies “Uber for the Air” because they really, really are not.
h/t SS for sharing this one with me