The Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US) audits an operator’s maintenance records, flight history, insurance coverage, the frequency of aircraft inspections and a program’s ability to meet or exceed FAA standards. Other considerations include pilot training, flight hours and pilot medical records. ARG/US has four rating tiers for operators: Does Not Qualify, Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum. All ARG/US-rated operators must provide the auditing firm with its latest records to ensure that they’re cleared before each flight. Before flights, individuals and brokers can use ARG/US’ TripCheq to ensure that the aircraft, crew and trip meet the auditing firm’s standards. This is important because the FAA may not allow an operator to fly to certain parts of the world. Operators with an ARGUS Platinum rating are experienced, meet the criteria for the Gold rating, pass the Platinum safety audit, and have a Safety Management System and Emergency Response Plan. In 2012, only 5 percent of the operators in the U.S. held a Platinum rating.