A team of entrepreneurs is working to solve that age-old dilemma faced by vacationing pilots every day: onerous checkouts when you want to rent an airplane away from home.
Rod Rakic, founder of the pilot social networking site myTransponder, is teaming up with other entrepreneurs to develop Open Airplane, a program to allow pilots who go through a standardized checkout to rent airplanes any time at any FBO in the country that participates in the Open Airplane project. The Open Airplane website tracks the eligibility of pilots who have passed its standardized checkout and allows them to reserve rental airplanes across the nation at participating flight schools and FBOs.
The website will allow users to rate the airplanes at the various companies and allow for online reservations. When a pilot shows up to fly at that location, he can skip the checkout. After returning to the airport, he records the Hobbs time on the Open Airplane website. At that point, his credit card is charged and the FBO or flight school is paid, minus a commission for Open Airplane.
Based on his market research, Rakic believes the rental companies will realize additional new business from the program, pilots will get more value out of their pilot certificates, and the industry will enjoy better safety because pilots will be more active.
Open Airplane will offer standardized instructor training to participating FBOs and flight schools. Pilots will need to maintain a nonowned insurance policy, which many renters already carry.
The Open Airplane website is in Beta mode now. Interested pilots can sign up for a free newsletter to learn more. Look for a launch late this year, perhaps sooner if the company can secure external financial backing.