By Reggie Paulk
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time traversing the country on airlines has probably given serious thought to alternatives. For general aviation pilots, three options are available: rent an airplane, buy an airplane or go into a partnership.
Each method has its advantages and pitfalls. Aircraft rental requires the least financial commitment, but is notoriously unreliable for a regular traveler. Membership fees, minimum daily flight hours, scheduling and equipment irregularities add up to make rental unattractive. Aircraft ownership gives the most operational control, but puts the full financial burden on the owner. Aircraft partnerships spread the cost of ownership over several owners, and help to maximize utilization. Problems can occur when one partner doesn’t fulfill their commitment. Enter fractional ownership.
ShareWest Aviation is a Centennial Airport-based company that offers fractional shares in the new Cirrus SR22-G3 airplane.
“General aviation is going through a revolution,” says company founder Jason Steele. That revolution has made modern GA airplanes—especially the Cirrus—highly appealing for both operational flexibility and safety. What ShareWest offers is a managed partnership in an airplane that represents the state of the art.
Steele says that a partnership is “almost like getting married.”
“You’re dealing with a situation where, if one of the partners leaves, you don’t get along with them, or it’s not compatible in terms of number of flying hours, you’re in a bad situation,” he said.
He added that since ShareWest is a corporation, you’d probably never meet your partners.
“You’re not concerned if they’re people who you get along with or not,” he said. “It’s all (computer-based) scheduling. Just like owning a timeshare, you won’t meet your partners.”
In addition, each owner of the fractional is protected, should anything happen to ShareWest. Their name is listed individually on the aircraft’s registration.
Steele isn’t just a businessman who recognized an opportunity to offer something unique; he’s a certified instrument flight instructor with more than 1,400 hours of time under his belt. As a former aircraft owner, he’s been exposed to the hurdles that the sole owner must overcome.
Issues such as recurring and unscheduled maintenance, insurance, subscription updates, hangar leases and the like all eat into time not spent flying. ShareWest offers owners the equivalent of concierge service; the airplane is always clean, XM and Jeppesen subscriptions are updated regularly, and maintenance is always performed as required. The only thing an owner has to do is schedule the aircraft online, check weather and file a flight plan.
Don’t let the single engine fool you; the Cirrus SR22-G3 is ultimately capable of meeting the demanding requirements of the business traveler. In fact, the airplane’s features actually make it a safer choice than a piston twin—especially for flying in Colorado and the West. With its turbocharged engine, the aircraft is capable of flying more than 1,000 nautical miles at 220 knots, and as high as flight level 250. That’s a useable altitude, too, thanks to an integrated oxygen system.
Two fully integrated Avidyne flat panel displays provide a virtual nirvana of situational awareness. An XM downlink provides real-time Doppler radar over a color moving map display. Aircraft attitude, heading and altitude are presented in a HUD-like environment that would make a Boeing captain salivate.
Cold weather flying is made safer with a TKS ice protection system. Even though not approved for forecast icing, the system offers safety in an unexpected encounter. With all of its strengths, the SR22 makes for a very appealing alternative to the airlines, but its most important feature is something that not even the airlines can offer: a parachute that lowers the entire aircraft to the ground in the event of a major emergency.
ShareWest puts the new owner in the captain’s seat of a state-of-the-art aircraft while keeping him out of the traditional logistics of aircraft ownership. According to Steele, the aircraft will be allocated 450 hours per year, divided among eight total shares. A buyer may choose to purchase one-sixth up to one-half of the total shares, depending on expected utilization. An owner that plans to put only 50 hours a year in his logbook would do well on a one-sixth share, while a busy traveler might opt for a half-share. That flexibility makes fractional ownership an appealing alternative for anyone contemplating an aircraft purchase.
And flying hours aren’t based on Hobbs time, but on tach time. Any pilot who’s seen the difference between the Hobbs and the tach knows that idling at the end of the runway waiting for clearance is a lot less stressful when hours are based off the tach. In fact, a 50-hour block of tach time is roughly equivalent to 60 hours of Hobbs time. That means a ShareWest fractional offers 20 percent more flying time than a Hobbs-based fractional. If that’s not a value proposition, what is?
To learn more about ShareWest Aviation’s fractional offerings, visit [http://www.share-west.com] or call 720-903-7664.