From a strictly legal standpoint, in the US (I'm also interested in Canada) can you (not should you) accept compensation to taxi an aircraft if you don't have a commercial pilot's license? If I was a mechanic with just a private license, could I charge for my time while taxiing an aircraft?

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I know there are mechanics who are "taxi qualified"(no pilot certificate required from what I've heard) at airlines, and are allowed to taxi the aircraft, usually from gate to a hangar or run-up pad. How this works reg wise I don't know, so I won't submit this as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – slookabill
    May 10 '15 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ I have a feeling that there is an implied for the purposes of air navigation somewhere in the regs, but I don't know where and don't have time to look it up right now. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    May 11 '15 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ likewise, we have several mechanics who are authorized to run up engines. typically, though, our aircraft are pulled around by a tug, though this would entirely depend on the geography of your airfield. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    May 14 '15 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ The question -- title and content-- are about the legality of charging taxiing time when not holding having a commercial pilot's license, The current answers, including the selected one, discuss the legality of taxiing a plane. The question doesn't seem to be answered. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 19 '15 at 5:20

I would say yes you can as per the FAR as I read them the limitations on a PPL are

§61.113 (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft

So you cant act as Pilot In Command for hire or if there are passengers on board (which in this case I assume there are not) however if we look at the FAR for the official definition of "Pilot In Command" we will find

Pilot in command means the person who:

(1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;

(2) Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and

(3) Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight.

The question is does taxing count as a "Flight". I would think it does not and moving the aircraft around is part of maintenance (thats how they log the hours on the trainer planes I rent). The FAR definitions section (§1.1) does not seem to contain one for "flight" so that may be open to interpretation. But as I read it you can taxi the aircraft for compensation as its not a "Flight" and thus you are not the Pilot In Command which is when the PPL rules would come into play in my opinion.

However section §65.81 states

However, he may not supervise the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration of, or approve and return to service, any aircraft or appliance, or part thereof, for which he is rated unless he has satisfactorily performed the work concerned at an earlier date.

The key line (Bolded) is return to service. If Taxing counts as returned to service then (unless rated to do so) you may not be able to for this reason (nothing to do with compensation).

Note: I am not a lawyer nor an aircraft mechanic and can not guarantee that my assumptions are correct. The opinions stated above should not be used as official legal advice and there may be more information in the FAR that I have not come across. This was compiled after some quick reading and searching in the assumed correct places.

Note 2: I would assume that in a commercial setting (and really any setting) there are some insurance implications to this kind of operation (especially with large aircraft). This may almost be a bigger concern than the legality of it (although both are important). You would not want to get into the situation where you may be legally allowed to drive the plane on the tarmac but are not covered by the company's insurance. Should you get into an accident you or your shop may become liable for the damages.

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    $\begingroup$ One interesting (probably relevant) definition in the FARs (14 CFR 1.1): "Flight time means: Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when then aircraft comes to rest after landing." As such, even a certificated pilot may not count taxi time when taxiing without the intent to fly as PIC time, so it seems reasonable to assume that this does not count as acting as PIC. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    May 12 '15 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ "Return to service" has nothing to do with taxiing. It is an airframe logbook entry, as per 43.9: "(4) If the work performed on the aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part has been performed satisfactorily, the signature, certificate number, and kind of certificate held by the person approving the work. The signature constitutes the approval for return to service only for the work performed." $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    May 13 '15 at 13:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 91.407: ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=14: "(b) No person may carry any person (other than crewmembers) in an aircraft that has been maintained, rebuilt, or altered in a manner that may have appreciably changed its flight characteristics or substantially affected its operation in flight until an appropriately rated pilot with at least a private pilot certificate flies the aircraft, makes an operational check of the maintenance performed or alteration made, and logs the flight in the aircraft records." $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    May 13 '15 at 18:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (con't) (a) No person may operate any aircraft that has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration unless— (1) It has been approved for return to service by a person authorized under §43.7 of this chapter; and (2) The maintenance record entry required by §43.9 or §43.11, as applicable, of this chapter has been made. $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    May 13 '15 at 18:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ return to service covers all maintenance, while not all maintenance requires a test flight. and i've never seen a taxi test required of itself. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    May 14 '15 at 3:40

Yes, as per 61.113:

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft.

A person taxiing an aircraft that is not intended for flight is not acting as PIC under this rule, and therefore can not only be a private pilot, but the person doesn't have to be a pilot at all.

There is no specific FAR that qualifies someone to taxi an aircraft, but aircraft operators and maintenance shops train and authorize mechanics to taxi and run-up engines.

Some individual airports have regulations that specify who may taxi and run-up an engine, such as Palm Springs:

(a) Only qualified persons shall start and/or operate an Aircraft engine at the Airport and/or taxi an Aircraft on the Airport. Qualified persons include a pilot, an airframe and power plant mechanic, or a qualified technician licensed by the FAA and qualified to start or operate the engine(s) and/or taxi that particular type and class of Aircraft.

and Whitman County Airport:

14.20.130 - Who may taxi aircraft. No person other than a mechanic, pilot, or properly authorized student pilot, certified by the FAA, shall taxi aircraft on any part of the airport.


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