It’s been a little while since I’ve studied common carriage vs private carriage.. I need a little advice with this situation. My dad is purchasing a plane (in his name and company) and I’m going to use it to build time but also fly him to places he needs to go for work or if he wants to go on vacation. I also may fly a couple of his employees or friends around at some point. This sounds like common carriage to me but I’m not being compensated in any way. It’s just a gray area..and it feels wrong. Can someone explain how I can do this without breaking any regulations?

  • $\begingroup$ What pilot certificate do you have? $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ Commercial and CFI $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ Take a look at this AC regarding "common carriage" HERE as a starting point. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ Is your dad a rated pilot? If so it's just two pilots flying together. If not, it sounds like private carriage if he pays all expenses. It certainly isn't common carriage. And if you split costs you are just exercising private pilot privileges. What specifically feels wrong to you? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ An occasional personal friend doesn't rise the the level of holding out to the "public". If this airplane will be in the name of his business it would be wise for insurance and legal reasons to consult an aviation attorney. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


Common carriage is a holding out of a willingness to transport people or property from place to place for compensation or hire.

Note that you are being compensated under the FAA's definition since you are logging hours without paying for the plane's operating costs. The FAA construes "compensation" very broadly.

If you are just flying your dad around, you are definitely not holding out and this is definitely private carriage. What's more, you don't have operational control over the plane, so you aren't required to have an air carrier certificate. As a commercial pilot, it is permissible to receive compensation for flying somebody around in their own plane.

Flying around his employees is also fine. It's important that your father, not you, is in operational control. Basically, he provides the plane and the maintenance and such and he just tells you where to fly. If the FAA decides that you have operational control they will consider you to be running an illegal charter.

Flying around his friends is where you get into a grey area. If they are paying you or your father anything then you get into the possibility of being considered an illegal charter operation. This could be considered holding out (and thus common carriage) depending on how strictly your father construes the term "friends."

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and you should not rely on me for legal advice.

  • $\begingroup$ Ahh okay thank you. It’s all starting to click. Do I need a contract or something in writing that states what we are doing and how he has operational control? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Miaflyer219 I'm not sure if that would help or not. Certainly if the contract says that he has operational control but you have de facto control, the contract won't save you. If you do put something in writing it would be wise to consult with a lawyer or run it by your local FSDO to make sure they agree what you are doing is kosher. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 16:26

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