Is a method in which several unrelated parties can share in, and mitigate the risk of, ownership of a high-value tangible asset, usually a jet, yacht or piece of resort real estate. It can be done for strictly monetary reasons, but typically there is some amount of personal access involved. One of the main motivators for a fractional purchase is the ability to share the costs of maintaining an asset that will not be used full-time by one owner.
Every fractional endeavour requires some sort of management, to administer the rules and regulations (which are agreed upon before the fraction is purchased) and maintain the asset to the degree laid out in the ownership documents. Generally, management will oversee the daily operation of more than one property, although it is not necessary. A single fractional asset may be managed by a single entity. Each owner is guaranteed a prescribed amount of access to the asset, which typically can be used or offered to the public as rental or charter, the income is usually split between the management company and the fractional owner, unless the owner finds the renter himself. Additionally, each owner pays a portion of the annual management fees and maintenance, relative to the percent of ownership.
The term fractional ownership originally became popular for business jets. Richard Santulli of NetJets pioneered the concept of allowing businesses to purchase shares in a jet to reduce costs. With a fractional jet plan, members will typically fly in any jet available, not necessarily the one in which they own shares. The management company will reposition jets as necessary and provide flight crews. Companies with greater needs purchase larger shares to get access to more time.
The fractional ownership concept has since been extended to smaller aircraft and now has become common for single-engine piston aircraft like the Cirrus SR22, which are beyond the financial means of many private pilots. The same concepts apply, except that the management company may not provide flight crews nor reposition the aircraft.
Many pilots get together to buy light aircraft in a privately bought and managed fractional ownership, this is often known as group flying.
Fractional ownership has played a significant role in revitalizing the general aviation manufacturing industry since the late 1990s, and most manufacturers actively support fractional ownership programs.