Private Jet Membership | Private Aviation Options

Providing high-net-worth individuals, corporations and family offices with the insight and expertise they need to choose the private aviation membership or card program that makes the most sense for them.

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Perform Initial Evaluation and Program Identification

Choosing the Right Program: The Process

With many options to consider when comparing membership and card programs, it is critical that our clients decide on the aircraft model that best suits their needs. In some cases, a membership program will make the most sense, while in other cases a card program will be preferred. This is determined primarily by understanding each client’s objective, flexibility and aircraft size requirements. The team at Essex assists clients in evaluating all the details of various aircraft options based on their specific needs and requirements. Essex also provides an operational and financial analysis to ensure the most appropriate aircraft, program model and applications are considered.

  1. Membership Programs

    Membership programs let clients fly as they please, offering flexibility and a fixed operating hourly cost. At the start of the contract, clients agree to a fixed cost per hour, which is then billed after each flight. Beyond actual travel costs, there is typically an initial fee along with annual membership fees. Operators of membership programs often utilize a fleet of their own aircraft, offering clients a higher level of consistency in terms of the aircraft they will be utilizing.

  2. Card Programs

    There are two options when it comes to utilizing card programs. The first is to buy a dedicated number of hours on a specific aircraft type from a card program provider. This option allows travelers to upgrade or downgrade certain aircraft type as desired based on agreed interchanging rates.

    The other card program option is a debit card. This option simply lets travelers fund an established travel account. Hourly use rates are normally fixed and are based on aircraft size. When a card member travels, the total cost of the trip is calculated at the completion of the trip, based on aircraft size, and the cost is automatically deducted from their card program balance.

    It is important to note that many card programs operate as brokers and therefore work with several different operators. Travelers will usually be advised of the actual aircraft they are traveling on a few days in advance of their planned travel.

  3. Analyze Contract Details

    Once a client decides on a membership or card model, Essex reviews the contract to ensure all details are fully understood, reasonable and in line with industry standards. For example, utilization limits should be reviewed as well as the ability to terminate the contract and receive a full refund. The financial stability of the particular program is also important to consider before signing.

Essex Membership and Card Consulting Services

Essex’s clients receive thorough consultative services that cover every aspect of utilizing a membership or card program:

  • Aircraft needs evaluation and model selection

  • Title, tax and legal consultation

  • Guidance of certain program stipulations

  • Program contract review and negotiations

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Why Essex Aviation?


Essex Aviation is not a brokerage firm and does not list aircraft for sale. We made this choice in order to avoid any conflicts of interest by representing both a buyer and seller. We accept no commissions, referral fees or any other forms of compensation from any third parties. At Essex, we work solely for our clients, offering unbiased and uncompromised advice.

Unparalleled Expertise

Lee Rohde and Tom Mitchell have been working in the aviation business for a combined 70+ years. Passionate about aviation since they were in their teens, Lee and Tom provide a unique combination of experience and a wealth of unparalleled knowledge while advocating for their clients’ interests.


We are committed to protecting the privacy of our clients. Every agreement we enter into includes privacy and confidentiality clauses, which are strictly adhered to by every member of Essex Aviation.

Honest and Fair

Essex is a well-respected consumer advocate within the aviation industry, known for our character and honesty. It is our desire to form and maintain long-term relationships with our clients and remain accountable for the analysis and support of past and ongoing decisions.

Our Testimonials

Our Clients Say It Best

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“Essex Aviation facilitated an end-of-lease process for a large aircraft and assisted us with structuring a subsequent lease extension. The transactions had several challenging issues that required expert counseling and negotiation. The Essex team is friendly, prompt, easy to work with, and most importantly, simply the best at what they do. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

5 Star Rating

Joe Stone, CFO

Sartini Enterprises, Inc.

“Lee, Tom and the team at Essex have worked with us over the years on a variety of fixed wing, rotor and other special projects, performing to superior standards throughout. We initially went through an industry downselect to compete them against their peers and they surfaced as the best fit for us. We continue to be very happy with the relationship.”

5 Star Rating

Mike D.

Northeast Based Family Office

“Knowledgeable. Informed. Competent. Thorough. Practical. Candid. Professional. Responsive. Efficient.”

5 Star Rating

Tony R., CFO

Northeast Based Family Office

“Essex Aviation’s guidance and data analysis was crucial to our successful first CJ3 lease and later our CJ4 purchase. The expertise of Essex allowed us to understand more fully our flight metrics, history, costs and how to match our future aviation needs with available options in a way that would not have been possible on our own.”

5 Star Rating

Alexandra Glazier, President and CEO

New England Donor Services

“Lee and Tom are the dynamic duo you've been looking for. Their collective skills provide exacting coverage on every detail needed when considering an airplane purchase or refurbishment. I worked with them on a lengthy process, from identification of plane, purchase, full refurbishment, staff assignments thru delivery. I was never once disappointed. Perfect personalities for even the pickiest of clients!”

5 Star Rating

Heidi M.

“We had a very positive experience with Essex. We found them to be competent, professional and objective. They dedicated a significant amount of time to providing an extremely insightful evaluation of our aircraft division. The report detailed strengths and weaknesses in our operation, together with constructive recommendations . They interacted very well with the staff and were able to elicit accurate and honest information.”

5 Star Rating

Michael M.

Northeast based Family Office

“Throughout my career as a family office executive, Essex Aviation has been my go to aviation expert. Lee and Tom have guided me through the most complex aircraft acquisition while being able to meet difficult client deadlines. The Essex team has provided key analysis ranging from the mundane, such as the interpretation of the placement of a placard on an aircraft to negotiations relating to an engine care program. Lee and Tom are key partners in all aspects of family office aviation matters.”

5 Star Rating

John Castrucci, Family Office Executive & Founder

Global Family Office Advisors

“I engaged Essex Aviation to prepare an analysis of large cabin aircraft that best met my needs. Their process was comprehensive and thorough. After an exhaustive search of available aircraft, they represented me on the acquisition, negotiation and importation of a long range aircraft and then oversaw a comprehensive customization of the entire plane. Throughout the process, Essex was a knowledgeable, trustworthy and detail oriented partner.”

5 Star Rating

Daniel R.

Ask These Questions Before Making Your Next Aviation Decision

Private aviation offers numerous benefits, but each service option comes with its pros and cons. Find out whether a membership/card program, charter, fractional or dedicated aircraft model is right for you — and how a private aviation consultant can help you make an informed decision — in this free eBook.