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How to Select an Operator

Many criteria apply to the selection of the right charter operator.

When talking to a prospective operator, you will want to quiz him or her thoroughly. We have provided a Glossary of Terms to assist you with industry jargon. Any good charter operator will appreciate the opportunity to go through a prospective itinerary with you as long as you are serious about using their service and aren’t simply window-shopping or web-surfing.

Credentials are important. Review the operator’s operating certificate, safety record and/or insurance policy. If your company has unique insurance policies, discuss them. Additionally, there are companies that constantly monitor, analyze, and audit charter operators around the world, such as ARGUS International, Inc. ARGUS maintains a proprietary system of evaluating charter operators called CHEQ (Charter Evaluation and Qualification) that combines the factual safety history of a charter operator, aircraft and/or pilot, and compares that operator’s safety record against relative industry benchmarks.

Ask the operator for customer references. Call these customers and ask them questions about their business dealings with the operator. You should be able to get a quick sense of whether or not they are happy with the services they have been provided.

If possible, visit your charter operator. This website has listed hundreds of operators, but we haven't met all of them. Air charter is a service business, and its people represent the key to success.

How to Become an ARGUS Rated Operator
  1. The Part 135 certificate holder must have operated with their certificate for a minimum of one year.
  2. ARGUS will set up a Username and Password so you can access our Operator Data Maintenance Program (ODMP) via the internet.
  3. ARGUS will provide a short online training orientation so you know what information we will need entered into the ODMP.
  4. You input your aircraft and flight crew data into the ODMP.
  5. Fax ARGUS a copy of your current D-O85 from your Ops Specs – to fax # 866-414-6218.
  6. ARGUS performs background checks on the flight crew and aircraft (takes approximately 30 days)
  7. ARGUS performs an analysis of all historical safety data that we have collected – on your 135 certificate, the aircraft, and the pilots. An operator’s composite score is compared against an aggregate group of operators with like exposures, and if found to meet or exceed the median score of those operators, the operator will be granted an ARGUS Gold Rating.

To maintain your rating, you are required to update your information in the ODMP at least every 90 days, and incorporate the ARGUS rating verification banner on your website.


ARGUS International, Inc. (ARGUS) is the industry leader in providing specialized aviation services to companies that manufacture, finance, operate, maintain, and market commercial and business aircraft, as well providing products and services to end-user consumers around the world. ARGUS is the global leader in performing on-site safety audits for corporate flight departments, charter operators, and commercial airlines. Founded in 1995, key ARGUS services include Charter Evaluation & Qualification (CHEQ) and CHEQPoint, technology consulting and software development, PRISM SMS Solutions, TRAQPak market intelligence data service, aircraft operating cost reports, market research, and aviation and travel consulting. ARGUS is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, with additional offices near Philadelphia, PA, Denver, CO, and Columbus, OH. For more information, visit

ARGUS Rating Descriptions
DNQ Rating - An ARGUS rating of DNQ (Does Not Qualify) can result from:
  1. A poor historical safety score based on the data collected and analyzed
  2. A significant safety issue with a pilot or aircraft operated
  3. A failure of an on-site safety audit
Gold Rating ImageGold Rating

To achieve the Gold Rating, ARGUS conducts in-depth research into numerous databases and other reputable sources. Historical information on the commercial certificate, pilots, aircraft serial numbers, ownership, management and financial data is compiled, processed and scored in an effort to determine the applicability of a Gold Rating. An operator’s composite score is compared against an aggregate group of operators with like exposures, and if found to meet or exceed the median score of those operators, the operator will be granted an ARGUS Gold Rating. If that score meets or exceeds the median score of those operators, the operator will be granted an ARGUS Gold Rating.

Gold Plus ImageGold Plus Rating

The Gold Plus Rating is awarded to operators who meet all Gold Rating requirements and have completed an ARGUS on-site safety audit or maintains IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations) Stage 1 registry. The operation is audited against the ARGUS Platinum Standard, a standard developed by ARGUS in conjunction with the industry, which contains recognized best practices, policies and procedures. Operators that meet these requirements are eligible to receive a Gold Plus Rating.

Platinum Rating ImagePlatinum Rating

The Platinum Rating is the highest level of the ARGUS Ratings. It is awarded to those experienced operators who meet the criteria for Gold and completed the ARGUS Platinum on-site safety audit. A Platinum Rating requires a well-developed Safety Management System, a clear and workable Emergency Response Plan, effective policies and procedures, and documented records for all major aspects of Operations and Maintenance within a flight department or charter company.