A New Take On Renting Planes

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Startup company OpenAirplane is hoping to launch later this year with a program that would allow participating pilots to rent aircraft from a network of widespread operators based on one annual checkout performed at one location. The company says it has partnered with the insurance company Starr Aviation to create a "standardization and evaluation program." In practice, that program would serve as a keystone for the business, eliminating the barriers of cost and time that "local checkouts" would otherwise impose on a traveling pilot. In theory, OpenAirplane co-founder Rod Rakic expects that the system will also bring other benefits. "We know that pilots who participate in a checkout program like the one we have in mind fly more safely," says Rakic. He is betting that participating operators will also see gains.

Rakic believes that if the program is successful, it will put more pilots into rental aircraft more often and in more locations relative to each pilot's normal home base. Participating pilots could find local airplane availability through any mobile device or computer with internet access and book aircraft online. Participating businesses, Rakic believes, will see an increase in revenue from local pilots interested in the convenience of the single-checkout program. "Aircraft that fly more are more profitable," says the company. The company hopes that the network's success will lead to growth that will in turn increase the opportunities for participating pilots and the benefit to operators. Time will tell.