Kalitta Cargo


The Kalitta name is iconic in aviation history, but one aspect of our work – of which we are extremely proud – is less well-known: our service for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Connie Kalitta Services began flying missions for the DoD in 1988. In 1992, Conrad ‘Connie’ Kalitta stood opposite President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office of the White House to receive a Meritorious Service award on behalf of the people of the United States and all coalition partners. The award was in recognition of services rendered by his company in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The Kalitta Companies split in 2001 and Connie Kalitta Services became Kalitta Air. After Doug Kalitta (Connie’s nephew) acquired Kalitta Charters in 2002, he committed to the pursuit of DoD approval for flight operations in all categories, including passenger, cargo and air ambulance.

How did we do it?

The path to DoD approval for civilian aircraft operators is the most challenging road taken within the civil airline industry. The quality and safety standards are the most stringent in aviation history. They are not flexible, and they must be maintained through periodic DoD inspections. After years of hard work in organizational structuring, internal quality and safety auditing programs, and developing and fine-tuning our training standards for all departments, Kalitta Charters was granted approval by the Civil Aircraft Review Board (CARB) of the United States Air Mobility Command to conduct flight operations for the U.S. Department of Defense in 2005. It would prove to be a monumental decision for both the CARB and Kalitta Charters.

In early 2006, Kalitta Charters representatives met with contracting officers from the USAF Air Mobility Command for a briefing on company capabilities with respect to particular aircraft types owned and operated by Kalitta Charters. The capabilities in all categories (passenger, cargo and air ambulance) were discussed. As a result of that meeting, Kalitta Charters has flown and continues to fly missions for the DoD on a daily basis in all categories of operations.

Kalitta Charters’ aircraft are subject to spot inspections called ‘DoD Commercial Air Carrier Evaluations’, in which DoD inspectors with the proper documents may demand immediate access to the flight deck to evaluate Kalitta’s flight operations. These are critiqued based on DoD standards, and a report is issued to Kalitta management and to the CARB office at Scott Air Force Base, IL. Kalitta has passed all DoD evaluation flights with – dare we say it – flying colors.

How are we doing?

Since receiving our initial DoD contract in December 2006, Kalitta Charters has been evaluated annually on the DoD’s Contractor Performance Rating System (CPARS). The CPARS evaluations from 2008, 2009 and 2010 have listed Kalitta Charters as exceptional in all areas of evaluation.

Moving forward

The initial meeting at Kalitta Charters to determine our commitment to the enormous challenge of gaining DoD approval took place on November 6, 2002. The challenge was accepted unanimously. It was indeed the strongest challenge in the history of the company and subsequently the proudest achievement in Kalitta Charters’ history. Since receiving our approval in 2005, Kalitta Charters has flown thousands of missions for the DoD. Our 98.7% dispatch reliability rating is second to none as a DoD contractor.

The DoD approval awarded to Kalitta Charters was the hardest certification we have ever attempted to secure. As a company committed to doing our very best to provide safe and reliable on-demand air transportation services to all branches of U.S. Military Services, we continue to work even harder to maintain and improve upon those levels of service. It is extremely hard work, but then again – nothing worthwhile is ever easy.