OpenAirplane, a free service that offers renter pilots a “universal” checkout, allowing them to rent aircraft at multiple participating locations, has grown to more than 10,000 members since its launch in May 2012, the organization said.
“We’re thrilled to see our community of pilots grow,” said OpenAirplane co-founder Rod Rakic. “More pilots are stepping up to get more value out of flying. Together we can make private aviation more valuable, safer, and more fun for everyone.”
More than 58 percent of pilots who have joined OpenAirplane now fly from home airports located within 25 miles of a fixed-base operator, flight school, flying club, or private aircraft owner who has signed on to make an aircraft available to rent to members, said Rakic.
Hours flown using the service have “more than doubled year over year” since the service launched, he said.
“If there is one question we hear from pilots, it is, ‘When will you be in my hometown?’” he said by telephone. “The more density we can bring to the network, the more valuable OpenAirplane becomes.”
Pilots locate available aircraft on OpenAirplane’s website using a smartphone, tablet, or computer with Internet access. They can research the aircraft’s equipment and rental rate, and then request a reservation.
By offering pilots an annual “universal pilot checkout” conducted to practical test standards in the make and model aircraft a renter commonly flies, the service provides renters with access to more than 320 aircraft at 90 locations across the country, including Alaska and Hawaii.
“Normally pilots are faced with having to waste half a day and hundreds of dollars to get checked out to fly at each new location they rent from. OpenAirplane solves that problem,” the company said in a Sept. 25 news release.
OpenAirplane’s checkout standard adds safety, said Rakic, who believes that some accident rates could be reduced by as much as 60 percent if typical rental checkouts were conducted to the same level of detail. The checkout OpenAirplane requires also “resets the clock” on FAA-mandated flight reviews, he added.
In 2014, OpenAirplane teamed with Cirrus Aircraft to give factory-trained Cirrus pilots access to those aircraft available in the OpenAirplane network.
OpenAirplane continues to reach out to aircraft operators who might be interested in joining the network and increasing the revenue hours on their rental aircraft, Rakic said.
“Those conversations are getting easier,” he added.