Skydiving businesses, also sometimes known as drop zone businesses offer customers access to the complete skydiving experience either in tandem with an experienced jumper or solo. Services may include the airplane ride, all equipment, landing site—also known as the drop zone or DZ—and the leadership/ coaching of a jumpmaster. Other products or services might also be offered through the business, from parachute training before the jump to photography or skydiving school.
Although entrepreneurs interested in launching a skydiving school come from a variety of backgrounds, the most successful ones almost always possess significant skydiving experience, either as an enthusiast or as a jump professional (e.g. military). From a customers’ standpoint, your skydiving experience is very important– in their eyes, it is the only thing standing between them and life threatening accidents.
Aside that, the capital requirements for a skydiving business can be quite substantial: chutes, safety equipment, harnesses (solo & tandem) and access to a plane(s) are all obvious prerequisites. Your instructors will also be expected to actively participate in and be rated by the U.S. Parachute Association, a trade organization that supports the sport of skydiving.
Before anything else, always remember the importance of putting together a substantial business plan. This business plan will have to express the goals and visions you have for your Skydiving business. The plan would state your ideas, starting from your choice of location to every other thing that matters.
You cannot start a business in the United States without the legal documents needed. If you do not know how to go about securing the necessary licences and permits in your state or county, it is advisable you talk to a qualified lawyer.
Although circumstances and niche choices can vary from one entrepreneur to the next due to the massive opportunities in the Skydiving Industry, but here are the necessary licenses and permits you will be expected to acquire before starting a Skydiving business.
What Type of License and Permit Do You Need to Run a Skydiving Company?
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1. Business License
In the United States, it is imperative that every business gets registered and recognized by the government. Since the business license needed for your Skydiving business will differ according to location, it is very important to check with your local municipal office to determine what type of license you will need to run your business legally. Also note that you might need to register your business with the Secretary of State. Consider checking your state’s website for their information, and do not be afraid to give their offices a call for some guidance if necessary.
2. Commercial Pilot License
Aside the fact that your pilots are expected to be licensed; there are other regulations for the operation of aircraft for commercial purposes. In the aviation realm, it starts by getting a commercial pilot license (CPL). The certification allows you to get paid for certain aviation activities. In order to receive your CPL, you will need to meet the following FAA CPL certificate requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- Speak and understand English proficiently.
- Pass all exams.
- Log a minimum of 250 hours of varied flight time.
- To work as a CPL, you will need a 2nd Class Medical Certificate.
- Your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) must endorse you as a sound pilot.
- You must have passed your ground school courses.
- You must also pass your check-ride with an FAA instructor.
- CPLs are required to have a current medical license.
- If you want to fly more advanced aircraft, you will need to pass a multi-engine check ride.
If you are running a corporation of one, you can use your social security number. If your business is larger than just yourself, you are expected to get a federal employer ID number (EIN). Note that this number let’s you register your business and it is the number that is used to set up your tax status with the government. Any employees hired by you must use this number when they file their taxes, as this number identifies your business o the federal and state governments.
4. Building or construction permit
If you will be making any changes, particularly structural changes, to the drop zone or place in which you will be operating your skydiving business, you may be required to get a building or construction permit from your local authorities.
5. County Permits
County governments often require essentially the same types of permits and licenses as cities. If your business is outside any city or town’s jurisdiction, note that these permits apply to you. However, the good news remains that County regulations are usually not as strict as those of adjoining cities.
6. Flight Certificate
The FAA’s main responsibility is to provide for the safety of air traffic, as well as persons and property on the ground. FAA implements this by certificating pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and parachute riggers and by requiring approval data for aircraft and parachutes.
The agency also maintains the authority to impose fines and suspend or revoke certificates it has issued. In the case of a skydiving violation, the FAA can fine the pilot, rigger, and the jumpers, as well as suspend or revoke the certificates of pilots and riggers.
Have it in mind that you will need to look into maintaining proper insurance, both for your business itself, and for you jump masters, planes, ensuring that all pilots and equipment are properly insured as required by your jurisdiction. In the United States, this could include worker’s compensation insurance for your employees, or aircraft insurance for the plan.
At the very least, you want risks coverage as well as public liability insurance, but it is a good idea to choose a more extensive one in order to make sure your business is protected in other areas as well. In the Skydiving business, aside the fact that insurance is very important, it is a legal requirement in the United States.
As you will employ pilots, you will also need to get employee’s liability insurance, protecting them if they happen to be injured at work. When operating from your drop zone, you may also need to acquire premises insurance, in case your business is disrupted by theft, a fire, or other types of damage.
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