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Repatriation Charge Following Diversion

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Repatriation Charge Following Diversion

Old 27th Feb 2020, 13:47
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Repatriation Charge Following Diversion

Hello all,

I had to divert to an alternative airfield recently due to the weather becoming IMC around the home airfield, I was PIC (No IR rating) and was flying with a friend who is a current ATPL who agreed that the diversion was the right and safest decision to make and an instrument approach was not available for him. The diversion airfield were very accommodating and did not charge for landing or parking. After arriving back at the club (Member for over 7 years and done all my training with) via road, the owner told me they would collect the aircraft the next day, so I paid for the flying hours I did on the aircraft that day.

Since then, I have received a large bill for ‘repatriation costs’ occurred in collecting the aircraft. This charge was not discussed with me at the time, and since the airfield is only around 15min flying time from home base amounted to significantly more than the cost of standard aircraft hire and landing had I collected it myself.

Just wanted to ask if this seems to be standard practice, given that it could place pressure on the members to opt to fly in unsafe conditions due to the financial burden of incurring a substantial cost for aircraft repatriation. I understand that there was a cost involved with returning the aircraft but feel it is a bit unjust not to consult me before passing this on and part of the business risk of renting aircraft is that this occasionally will happen. Has anyone got any thoughts on this or have experience of this?

As an aside, another club aircraft also diverted at the same time with a club instructor onboard.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 14:49
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It sounds like you were not charged landing nor parking for the unplanned stop, and it sounds like the club did not charge you for the loss of revenue while the plane sat elsewhere, unavailable to hem for other rental. So two people spend x hours going to get, and returning the plane, so cost for their time, the operation of the plane you had been flying, and either a car or another plane, and if they flew, they might have been charged landing and parking at the other airport. Whether what they charged you was fair or not is based upon the charge relative to the cost to recover the plane. That would be a discussion you could have with them. However, the fact that they charged you something is fair, it cost them something.

Your decision to divert, or continue to your planned destination should not be based upon cost, but rather life. Over the years, I've had to divert a few times, both in rental planes, and my planes. It's your choice to fly, so the risks and cost of an unplanned stop are yours too.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 15:05
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The fact the diversion port didn't charge him for landing or parking has NOTHING to do with it. Loss of potential revenue is also not the hirer's problem if due to weather or breakdown. He is responsible for getting the a/c back to where he hired it from, so if he left it for them to recover he's responsible for their time etc.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 15:20
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Originally Posted by T_1 View Post
Hello all,

I had to divert to an alternative airfield recently due to the weather becoming IMC around the home airfield, I was PIC (No IR rating) and was flying with a friend who is a current ATPL who agreed that the diversion was the right and safest decision to make and an instrument approach was not available for him. The diversion airfield were very accommodating and did not charge for landing or parking.
In the UK, Mr. Strasser, (then?) chairman of AOPA, convinced almost all airfields to subscribe to what is known as the "Strasser Scheme". It means that if a GA aircraft makes a genuine diversion due to technical or weather reasons, no ATC or landing fees will be charged. I have had the pleasure of needing this scheme myself as well, after an in-flight minor technical problem.

There's only a handful of airfields not subscribing to this scheme, Heathrow being one of them - and I can understand why.

Originally Posted by T_1 View Post
After arriving back at the club (Member for over 7 years and done all my training with) via road, the owner told me they would collect the aircraft the next day, so I paid for the flying hours I did on the aircraft that day.

Since then, I have received a large bill for ‘repatriation costs’ occurred in collecting the aircraft. This charge was not discussed with me at the time, and since the airfield is only around 15min flying time from home base amounted to significantly more than the cost of standard aircraft hire and landing had I collected it myself.

Just wanted to ask if this seems to be standard practice, given that it could place pressure on the members to opt to fly in unsafe conditions due to the financial burden of incurring a substantial cost for aircraft repatriation. I understand that there was a cost involved with returning the aircraft but feel it is a bit unjust not to consult me before passing this on and part of the business risk of renting aircraft is that this occasionally will happen. Has anyone got any thoughts on this or have experience of this?

As an aside, another club aircraft also diverted at the same time with a club instructor onboard.
Did you discuss the method of repatriating with the owner? As a hirer, you are at the very least responsible to make a good effort in trying to get the airplane back to home base. If you just dump the problem in the owners lap then I think the owner is entirely justified in charging for all the costs, plus the labour, associated with getting the plane back. It may just be 15 minutes by air, but it may take an hour or more by car, and then somebody has to drive the car back as well. Public transport, if available at all, might be even more problematic.

If you hire a car, you are also supposed to bring it back to the place where you rented it. If you just leave it somewhere and mail the owner the keys, then they are entitled to charge repatriation costs as well. Why would an airplane be any different?
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 15:52
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Why didn't anyone suggest that you drove someone over to fly a sortie from the diversion aerodrome? Or instructor + student if you had a car with enough seats?

The threat of 'repatriation costs' might mean that another pilot wouldn't have been as sensible as you were.

Pay them for the actual road miles there and back for the ferry pilot and that's it. If they were too stupid to fly a revenue flight back to base, then they should pay for that themselves!
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 17:36
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No, I've never heard of such a charge.

But also if I've ever diverted an aeroplane somewhere else for weather, I've always made it my business to retrieve it myself as soon as possible. Just leaving it for somebody else to sort out, at the very least I'd anticipate making me unpopular, if not attracting a significant inconvenience charge.

G
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 19:40
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On the one occasion (many years ago) that I had to leave a rented aircraft at another airfield following a diversion, I made it my business to gget it back to the home airfield at the earliest opportunity after the weather cleared the next day. It never occurred to me that it would be anyone else's responsibility. If the renter had had to arrange the return I would have expected to have to pay at least some of the cost - although I would expect that I would have been asked to arrange the return in the first instance. There are lots of risks entailed in flying - weather diversions and associated costs and inconvenience are amongst them!

I've mostly flown syndicate aircraft since then. Our current syndicate agreement says:Members are expected to take all reasonable steps to return the aircraft to base at the end of any booking period. Where this is not done, the other members will reserve the right to take any necessary steps to arrange return and / or storage. The member concerned will be responsible for all costs associated with the return unless the failure to return the plane was a result of mechanical failure.

There is then a paragraph about mechanical failure which still puts the onus on the member to try to sort out a repair and return the plane if that can be done within a reasonable time frame. Even if other members of the group ultimately have to return the aircraft to base, the member suffering the breakdown is expected to pay for that flight.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 20:50
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Well, what would you have done if you owned that aeroplane? I've had to leave mine away from home a couple of times. I collected it, paid anything that was due, and took it home. I'd have done the same if it was a rental. I do think the owner should have contacted you to ask you if you preferred to fetch it or pay for someone else to do it, but flying isn't free, even if in an ideal world it ought to be.
When you left it what arrangement did you make with the owner? Or did you just kinda expect it to get home by itself? Try putting yourself in the owner's place, maybe there was a bit of a communication problem and they weren't happy about the safety of their property?
It's not about safety of the flight, that's a given that you made a necessary diversion. Except that it doesn't end there, you are still responsible for finishing the flight by whatever means, be it yourself or paying for somebody else's time. Time to spare, go by air....
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 21:22
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You did the right thing by not flying VFR into IMC and the owner should be grateful to you for that. As an aircraft owner myself I would have thanked you for your prudence, and left it at that. I would have accepted the cost of "repatriating" the aircraft as one of those many incidental expenses that aircraft owners frequently have to put up with.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 22:14
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There is not any doubt in my mind that the OP should pay all costs of recovery to base airfield; he could request a breakdown of the final account and dispute any element thought to be unreasonable.
The merits/ demerits of the flying decisions of the day are not relevant to the responsibilities of recovery. (It is good that training/knowledge/skill achieved a safe result.)
The OP should pay.

Last edited by rifruffian; 27th Feb 2020 at 22:30.
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 22:49
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After arriving back at the club (Member for over 7 years and done all my training with) via road, the owner told me they would collect the aircraft the next day, so I paid for the flying hours I did on the aircraft that day.
The OP isn't doubting that he should pay - just querying the amount. I don't see any suggest here that he dumped the problem on somebody else. If you are going to charge somebody for a service, do you not have a responsiblity to expalin what the charges are likely to be, and maybe make the offer that they might prefer to sort it out for themselves?
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 23:22
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(Member for over 7 years and done all my training with)
In which time I am sure you read the club rules a few times. Usually there will be an entry regarding diversions, land aways and costs incured together with members liability!
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Old 27th Feb 2020, 23:36
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Thanks for the responses, to clarify I fully understand that collecting the aircraft cost the club time and money so my thinking would be that I should have been asked how I would propose to help return the aircraft, either by collecting it myself or arranging with the club for it to be collected (with the costs agreed in advance). It seems improper practice to me that the club without my consent charge for the cost of sending another aircraft to do a return trip and for the cost of the flight of the aircraft I was flying. I would be interested in hearing if this is standard practice with other organisations or if anyone has had a similar experience?

Originally Posted by Piper.Classique View Post
Well, what would you have done if you owned that aeroplane? I've had to leave mine away from home a couple of times. I collected it, paid anything that was due, and took it home. I'd have done the same if it was a rental. I do think the owner should have contacted you to ask you if you preferred to fetch it or pay for someone else to do it, but flying isn't free, even if in an ideal world it ought to be.
When you left it what arrangement did you make with the owner? Or did you just kinda expect it to get home by itself? Try putting yourself in the owner's place, maybe there was a bit of a communication problem and they weren't happy about the safety of their property?
It's not about safety of the flight, that's a given that you made a necessary diversion. Except that it doesn't end there, you are still responsible for finishing the flight by whatever means, be it yourself or paying for somebody else's time. Time to spare, go by air....
The owner of the club said 'he would take care of it' that at the time I thought was a kind offer of collecting the aircraft at no charge to me; hence, I thanked him for this and left. The diversion airfield is the base of the aircraft owner and maintenance provider who lease the aircraft to the club. I spoke to them on the day and they were more than happy to look after the aircraft overnight so there were no issues with security etc.
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 02:25
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'he would take care of it'
'Sounds like an understandable misunderstanding. The only observation I can make would be that were I to have been in the "clubs" position, had I heard you say: "Here's my plan to get the plane back tomorrow....", I probably would have done nothing, and waited for you to do it. I can see both sides of this situation.

For the rare occasions when I rent something, I rent it as though I own it for that period. Having had a few imperfect interactions with rental car companies, I try to minimize any occurrence which is not exactly as planned - which means I take care of things myself, at least to the point of getting the car back to where it started myself. I will change a wheel, or other simple tasks to get it back, rather than calling someone, so they can charge me to do it. When you rent the plane next, fly your trip as though every problem is wholly yours to solve (speaking as an owner for 33 years, and occasional borrower of planes).
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 03:39
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When you rent the plane next, fly your trip as though every problem is wholly yours to solve
Agreed. Only time I had to divert with a club aircraft it was to a field 27 miles from home base. Dad drove and picked us all up , 3 pax, drove home , three hour drive as a large body of water separated the two airfields, arose at a God awful hour to make the 3 hour drive with a companion who would drive back after dropping me off, had the aircraft back home and on line at 0700. Had I to do it over would have spent the night with the aircraft and allowed the pax to be picked up by Dad.
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 09:50
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What Whopity said!

The procedure should be clearly laid out in the Flying Order Book or whatever other document the club uses. In our case, every flying member signs a form on renewal, once a year, to state that they agree to comply with the contents therein. Any significant amendments made to it during the membership year are disseminated accordingly.

Does your club have such a system?
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 17:42
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I had rented a Grumman Tiger for a week to attend a course. Flew it from Toronto Island to Philadelphia Wings field. Course over, paid the fuel bill, checked the tanks to find them empty. The fuel bill was torn up, but the fuel truck had just broken down; so had to fly to North Philly to get gas. Once fueled and on my way back to base, FSS advised Toronto Island would be closed before ETA; so diverted to Toronto International with permission from customs. Phoned owner and took limo home.

Owner picked me up the next morning and I flew the plane back to Toronto Island.

With gliders you don't always make it all the way back. The pilot gets to organize the retrieve, pay for the beers at the clubhouse, and get the glider rigged.
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 19:16
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Reminds one of the old saying: "Time to spare? Go by air."
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Old 28th Feb 2020, 19:17
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No, it is not 'normal', if as you suggest you have been humped on the costs.

This group is hobbyists or an individual running a no capital group?

I have seen this before in circumstances with a commercial outfit running under the guise of some sort of club.

What does your agreement with the group say i.e. your membership terms and conditions? It would not be unusual to have a provision that of you fly away - say to France and have to abandon the airplane that you have to pay the cost of getting it back.

Where this seems to be unusual is that you left the airplane "15 minutes" away. In those circumstances I would have thought that a couple of members driving over, one to fly the plane and one to bring the car back would be reasonable - looks like they billed you for the flight. Who did the flying - were they a commercial pilot or did they get some free flying (mmm). Would have thought a normal member would have flown it and logged the time instead of his normal flip around the circuit. The fact that they seem to be suggesting lost of income (is this really a group!) suggests that they had pilots lining up to fly - the only 'cost' would have been a car ride over to the other airfield.

Seems that however you cut, based on the accuracy of what you say, this group does not sound like one you should continue to be a member of if they take the opportunity to gouge you in these circumstances. I do wonder if one pilot flew another pilot over and he flew back. Sounds like someone got some free flying - both the pilot of the airplane that carried the pilot to the plane and the pilot who flew that plane back - if they did and are not commercial pilots with the right medical, licence and insurance - drop them in it to the CAA - sounds to me as if you have been blagged - also look into it and see if you have been treated differently from others - whole thing sounds dodgy to me.

Legally they have a duty to mitigate your costs i.e. to keep them to a reasonable level - if they thought the only option would be costly they should have afforded you the opportunity to get dropped off in a taxi and fly it back. Work out what it should have cost them offer it in full and final settlement - if they attempt some kind of set-off go after them in the small claims court.

Action like this could cause someone to develop a fear of onerous "repatriation costs" fly on when they shouldn't and cause an accident - they sound like a bunch of idiots.

Last edited by Ebbie 2003; 28th Feb 2020 at 19:34.
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Old 29th Feb 2020, 10:28
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Ebbie

Clubs in the UK are not the same as in the U.S. and they're invariably not groups. Almost without exception they are approved as "schools", either as DTOs or ATOs, So effectively, they are flight schools but usually less formal and without uniformed instructors.
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