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The Large Air Carrier That Few Know Exists

The Nomadic Aviation Groups flies around the world under a veil.

A Boeing 737 MAX in storage at Victorville Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

The concept of an “airline” is a familiar one: a single company operates specific aircraft to specific places, either regularly or on demand. Airlines tend to be forward-facing so that even many obscure carriers, like regional airlines that operate on behalf of bigger carriers, provide some sort of signal that they are the ones operating the flight.

The Nomadic Aviation Group, however, is different. The carrier operates nearly daily flights, flying dozens of aircraft types – from small regional jets to wide-bodied airliners as big as the Boeing 777 – all over the world. Its customers include some of the biggest airlines and leasing companies, yet it carries no passengers and its cargo is not on the plane, but is rather the plane itself.

Nomadic is one of the largest ferry and jet test companies in the world. Its predecessor was founded in 1999 as a crew leasing company that matched individual contract pilots with operators who needed the extra crewmember. That company became Jet Test and Transport in 2014 to focus more broadly on ferrying aircraft to various destinations and flight testing them on airlines’ behalf.

The Nomadic Aviation Group we know today was formed in 2021 and primarily partners with leasing companies that need to move aircraft between airline customers and heavy maintenance facilities before new leases. The company also focuses on transporting passenger aircraft to cargo conversion and testing them before delivery back to the airline owner.

Nomadic’s website says it has customers all around the world, from the United States to Ireland to Dubai to Hong Kong. The company therefore has project managers and dispatchers based across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Additionally, it is legally incorporated in both the United States and Europe. The scope and scale of the company’s management affords it extra flexibility to not only staff requests but also to plan and dispatch its own flights.

Contract Pilots

The company still largely depends on contract pilots to help move jets. And though it has a formal Air Operators Certificate, it largely operates under Part 91 of the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations. This allows the company to operate flights from Asia to North or South America in under 24 hours, sometimes with only two pilots.

A significant portion of Nomadic’s work throughout the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was moving aircraft from short-term parking to long-term storage as airlines cut their operations for what was thought to be a long freeze on travel. The company also played a significant role in repatriating leased aircraft from Russia after most Western countries imposed sanctions in response to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Nomadic was also contracted to deliver the former Mexican Presidential Jet, a controversial Boeing 787, to a new owner in Tajikistan. The aircraft, seen as an unnecessary expense by many Mexican citizens, had been in storage for years because the Mexican government stopped using it as a cost-cutting measure.

Notable clients of Nomadic’s include Aer Cap, Air Asia, and LATAM Airlines in addition to various other airlines and leasing companies around the world.

Nomadic Aviation has gained popularity through a YouTube channel called Speedtape Films, created by one of its managing partners. The channel follows Nomadic pilots around the world as they travel to aircraft and deliver them across the world for storage, maintenance, or freighter conversion.

John McDermott


  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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