Renting an Airplane Can Be Challenging. Here’s Why
If you’re looking to rent a car, you must be a minimum of 25 years old and hold a valid driver’s license. If you don’t reference anyone else’s vehicle identification number, it can be tough to know if you’re renting the right vehicle. After just a few minutes of paperwork, and 30 seconds of waiting in line at a rental car facility, you should be on your way—renting an airplane is nowhere near as quick or easy. It’s not so surprising when a customer walks into your airport and asks to rent an airplane. What might be more difficult is to imagine a customer leaving in frustration because they thought the rental requirements were excessive, or that the CFI was angling for more time. I assure you that this couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s usually because of insurance limitations, which are set forth by the FBO itself.
Certificates and logbooks for campsThe first thing we want to do when you come for a rental checkout is to verify that you have your pilot’s license and medical certificate. If you’re flying under BasicMed, be warned, there are some FBOs that will not allow solo rental to pilots who are flying under BasicMed. These are supposedly because they’re concerned with insurance issues. You are going to be examined for dual-rating to find out if you have the experience for a single pilot operation. You are also going to be interviewed about your aircraft, or at least the type of aircraft you learned on. If you want rental privileges in Colorado, when it comes time to fly that plane, plan on more time than if you had flown elsewhere all your career. The CFI wants to make sure that the pilot flying under their authority is flying with their full knowledge and expertise. If you don’t log the experience, it’s not counted as part of your total flight hours. So please note that a ride along with a more experienced pilot in a usually more advanced airplane doesn’t count in this regard. Pilots must be prepared for all types of questions from different people. In order to answer these questions, you’ll need to know about the runway dimensions at your desired airport and what type of air traffic control tower it has. You’ll also want to keep in mind the big kahuna: Why are you seeking rental privileges? Most commonly, customers are either building hours toward another certificate or a new job. When choosing a flight school, it’s a critical step that you check to make sure they allow you to book overnight rentals. Some schools cannot afford the downtime that comes with individuals booking rentals and using an airplane off the line. You’ll need to add an additional payment if you want night-flying privileges. This is often a few takeoffs and landings in the dark. There may be a requirement of experience or certificate level for certain aircraft rentals. For example, if you want to rent the 172RG, it may require 100 hours total time and a complex endorsement. Or if you want to rent the aircraft with the G1000, you need to show you have logged at least five hours in an aircraft equipped with a glass cockpit. They might take a few flights before they get there, but they’ll get there eventually!
Rental CheckoutRather than taking you through a long process and a lot of back-and-forth, FBOs like us want to make sure that we’re giving you the most accurate advice so that your trip goes well. We’ll calculate and inspect your aircraft’s weight and balance along with the takeoff and landing performance in an open book test with very little additional paperwork for you to fill out. Don’t let things like a CFI check flight make you forget what other skills you’ll need to watchactively fly like a pro. If your flights have become a few laps in the pattern or a trip to buy a $100 hamburger or pancakes, spend extra time on doing safety procedures such as checklist use. You’re about to experience what it actually feels like to be a pilot during your flight maneuvers. Expect to do takeoffs and landings and experience an uncommanded loss of engine power from time to time with the intent on troubleshooting as you prepare for the glide. If your instructor thinks the pilot might be a bad fit, they may not take the chance. That’s their authority and quite frankly, it can be a double-edged sword. If you get on an airplane to muck up an airplane, they could prevent you from flying again in the future. Plus, they don’t want to lose money if you stop flying and leave angry. It’s difficult but helpful to give background information on where your instructor is coming from with this special decision.
EntrepreneursIf you are a student pilot and have been soloed by another instructor at another FBO, the solo endorsement will likely not transfer to the new FBO. The CFI performing the flight check will likely not give you a one-and-done endorsement, especially if the ground knowledge that you need—such as FARs or local airspace—is lacking. Student pilots often fly with rental privileges for a simple reason: their regular CFI won’t let them solo. This can be frustrating, and if the student is switching FBOs during training, they might have to repeat previous lessons. But don’t worry, if you talk it out with your primary instructor, this transition will be smooth and painless.