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Taking Flight Pentastar

Taking Flight: Outfitting and Entry Into Service

For newcomers to the private aviation lifecycle, the steps involved in finding and buying the right aircraft can feel lengthy and intimidating. Once the right aircraft has been identified and acquired, it’s time to embark on the final steps in the process: outfitting and entry into service.


Here is the good news for new and aspiring aircraft owners: this is the fun part. Outfitting involves taking the aircraft you have purchased and truly making it your own. This is an opportunity to make sure the sizable investment you’ve made truly feels customized to your needs and preferences. The long list of customizable features includes functional elements like options for cabin entertainment, wi-fi internet, galley appointments, controllable lighting, and sound systems, to cabin comfort features and aesthetic details. The interior furnishings of the aircraft can be modified with new carpeting, upholstery, headliners, and sidewalls.

A private aviation expert can and should work with clients to determine if repairs or refurbishments are the better option for worn or outdated cabin elements. The list of hard and soft goods that can be modified during the outfitting process also includes things like the lavatory and faucets/hardware and small-but-important things like glassware, silverware, blankets, and pillows.

One increasingly important aspect of outfitting is making sure cabin connectivity and cabin entertainment infrastructure is sufficient to meet the needs of the new owner and those who will be flying with them. Are there enough screens and are they located in the most desirable places? Does the plane have an onboard internet/Wi-Fi system? If so, does it have enough bandwidth and geographical coverage for how and where it will be used?

For many owners, a custom exterior paint job is what truly makes an aircraft feel like their own. New owners can also select a personal FAA-registered tail number, a prominently displayed identifier that may have personal meaning and/or significance. Outfitting isn’t all fun and games, of course. This is also the stage where a professional private aviation partner can work with new owners to assess critical features such as how the cockpit is equipped and any recommended safety upgrades.

Entry into service

While outfitting is taking place, essential tasks required for the final step in the private aviation lifecycle, entry into service, should already be underway.

With a significant backlog in pilot hiring, the private aviation partner providing advisory services will likely begin working to hire pilots as early as possible—ideally before the transaction is finalized. Even in the best of times, this can be a lengthy process. And with pilots in historically high demand, and lots of competition for training slots, it’s not unusual for new crew member hiring to take at least 3-5 months or more.

Typically, potential new crew hires will be identified and initial vetting will be conducted to review qualifications and personality fit. Promising candidates will then sit down with the new aircraft owner and family or coworkers to ensure it’s a good fit. Only then will any additional training that may be required get underway.

While different private aviation providers may have different policies, Pentastar air crews almost exclusively fly for a specific client and a specific aircraft. There are significant benefits in terms of safety, comfort, familiarity, aircraft- and client-specific expertise, and an elevated level of personal service.

The entry into service phase is also when the aircraft is insured, when maintenance plans are made, and when spare parts for common failure or wear points are acquired. Everything from wheels to cabin light bulbs should be readily available. If the plane will be serviced and maintained off-site, it may be necessary to hire a dedicated mechanic or assess available maintenance resources. Warranty subscriptions for expensive systems and parts like avionics and engines need to be filed, as does the final paperwork required for service. That paperwork includes a letter of authorization with the FAA and, if the aircraft will be made available for charter, an additional contractual agreement. Chartered aircraft will likely be on the private aviation provider’s air carrier certificate, which requires a separate/additional inspection and regulatory steps.

For new aircraft owners, the long and sometimes complex private aviation lifecycle might sometimes feel like a frustrating and drawn-out process. But when that first official flight lifts off the runway in your aircraft—one that you’ve made all your own—all the hard work and careful consideration you’ve put into the process will feel like the best investment you’ve ever made.