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I am interested in doing flights for organizations that connect pilots with patients. I am also interested in purchasing a Sling Tsi and I am wondering if those two things can be combined since it is an experimental. I don't see anything in the reg that would prevent that.

Thanks

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This is what Angel Flight West says about it, "At this time, it is not permissible to use experimental or non-certified aircraft for passenger missions. Experimental aircraft may, however, be used for missions transporting blood or for any non-passenger missions."

https://angelflightwest.org/pilot-page/

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The easy question first: receiving any money for doing so is illegal compensation. Sharing expenses doesn't apply because you don't have a common purpose with the patient.

It is likely that such an operation would require a part 135 certificate, since the business you are describing could be considered to be holding out a willingness to transport people for compensation. But even if you have a commercial certificate and think that it should be legal under part 91, 14 CFR § 91.319(a)(2) forbids it in an experimental aircraft:

No person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate [...] Carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.

The FAA interprets "compensation" very broadly. If you receive anything of value, even if it's abstract or less than your expenses, you must fall into a specific exception that allows it or you are receiving illegal compensation. There are many exceptions for certificated aircraft, but for experimental aircraft there is only glider towing and flight training.

Otherwise, I think it should be legal as long as you follow all the other restrictions of 14 CFR § 91.319 and of your airworthiness certificate. Some of these might be a problem:

Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator... no person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate over a densely populated area or in a congested airway

Each person operating an aircraft that has an experimental certificate shall [...] Advise each person carried of the experimental nature of the aircraft [and] Operate under VFR, day only, unless otherwise specifically authorized by the Administrator

The day VFR and densely populated area restrictions are theoretically problematic but can be waived on your operating limitations. So in practice this doesn't really matter.

Needing to inform the patients that you are flying an experimental aircraft is probably more problematic. I expect the reaction of most people to being told that they are being flown in an "experimental airplane" is "hell no I'm not."

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Chris, Thanks for the response. Sounds like experimental is definitely out for this plan. So for standard category it sounds like you think it would may need to be part 135. The push back on that I would say is that this wouldn't be a willingness to transport for compensation if I was only compensated for the expenses of the flights and not a salary or hourly fee for my own time. Thoughts on that? $\endgroup$
    – Tricio
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ The FAA definitely considers being compensated for the expenses of a flight "compensation," so that argument is a non-starter. There may be an argument somewhere that you aren't being paid by the people you are flying, so it isn't really common carriage (though it is still compensation). I would 1000% talk to a lawyer with experience in aviation before I'd think about starting an operation like this though. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Tricio I suspect you might also have tax issues if you create a "non-profit" whose sole existence is to pay you to fly an airplane. But I'm not an expert on that topic. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that anything "for hire" and experimental do not mix, but the statement about day vfr and densely populated areas is way overblown. It is easy to get this allowed in operating limitations as long as the aircraft and equipment support it, but that is true for production certificated aircraft as well. Also, I fly experimental and few people refuse. Never has anyone said anything like "hell no" as you speculate. $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Pilothead Friends and fellow aviation enthusiasts, or strangers who know nothing about general aviation? I have family members who have told me in no uncertain terms that they would never go up in something I built in my garage. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 19:21

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