Assuming the following variations of a scenario.

  1. Your friend wants to pay you to fly them to Martha's Vineyard. You rent the aircraft from a local club.

  2. Same as above, except your friend rents the aircraft.

The common explanation is that the first situation is not legal because you are providing both the plane and the pilot, but that the second is, because you are only providing yourself.

This doesn't make sense to me, because:

For the same reasons that you need an operating certificate for 1, you also need an operating certificate for 2.

In situation 1, you are acting as a private carrier, and need an operating certificate for private carriage. 91.501 only applies to large turbine aircraft, and "flying your friend to Martha's Vineyard" is not an exemption under 119.1.

In situation 2, it is still a private carriage operation. There is nothing changed about the situation that would qualify it for an exemption under 119.1. You still need an operating certificate under 119.23(b):

Each person who conducts noncommon carriage (except as provided in § 91.501(b) of this chapter) or private carriage operations for compensation or hire with airplanes having a passenger-seat configuration of less than 20 seats, excluding each crewmember seat, and a payload capacity of less than 6,000 pounds shall—

(1) Comply with the certification and operations specifications requirements in subpart C of this part;

(2) Conduct those operations in accordance with the requirements of part 135 of this chapter, except for those requirements applicable only to commuter operations; and

(3) Be issued operations specifications in accordance with those requirements.

It would seem that you need an operating certificate regardless of who rents the aircraft.

Some say that you don't need an operating certificate in situation 2, because it is a dry lease. However, I haven't found any regulation that exempts a dry lease from getting an operating certificate.

  • $\begingroup$ You didn't actually ask a question... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding scenario #2, one thing you haven't mentioned is the status of the person renting the plane: They would not be a passenger. To rent the plane they would have to be a pilot, qualified and current in category and class, and checked out as proficient by the FBO. And they wouldn't be just any pilot... they would be acting Pilot in Command for the entire flight. I'm not sure you would even consider it an act of carriage if they allowed the other "passenger" (pilot) to manipulate the controls for some or even most of the flight, regardless of whether they paid them or not. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Because the PIC is never a "passenger"... $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


If your friend rents the plane, you are not providing "carriage," common or otherwise, and so 119.23(b) does not apply. When you provide "carriage," you are providing transportation as a whole service, which requires that you have operational control over both the aircraft and the crew.

If you are transporting other people as well this can get complicated. In that case your friend may be operating as a private carrier and would need an operating certificate.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For the last part, it depends. If the friend is the only one paying for the group, then it would be private carriage. If any of the other people were paying the friend, however, then it would not. The way I have gone over it is if someone is paying for the plane vs paying for a seat. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7 at 0:20

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