‘Negative. . .A Door Flew Off the Aircraft’


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

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

One Comment

  1. How are companies like this not “Uber for the air”? The thing that genuinely sets services like Uber and Lyft apart from taxis isn’t app-based dispatch and payment (Taxis have had those since soon after Uber was on the scene with TaxiMagic, now Curbed, and Flywheel.), but the fact that Uber doesn’t employ their drivers or take any responsibility for the operation or maintenance of their vehicles or success of their individual sole-proprietorships.

    It seems to me that, putting aside the asenine need for everything in the valley to be an *established product* for *new twist*, if wheels up is “providing” a service, by only providing marketing, branding and service standards for a bunch of private operators, a la the “sharing economy”, how are they so different from Uber?

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