If a person exchanges email with a private pilot (who normally operates under FAR 91) with a view towards hitching a ride or taking an empty leg flight, does this act mean that the pilot must then operate under FAR 135?

Or alternatively, if there is no discussion of payment and/or barter, would the ride still take place under FAR 91? I have watched the demise of AirPooler, but this was a much more structured arrangement which blatantly invited scrutiny from the regulator. This question assumes there is no intermediary like AirPooler or BlackJet.

I am trying to find out what actually triggers an escalation in the rules. FAA would be fine, but anything on European regulators would be massively welcomed. I am UK based, not a pilot, and use empty leg on occasion, so I might be affected if the European regulators follow the FAA's lead. Knowing the trigger point is key.

  • $\begingroup$ Is your question assuming that no form of payment or compensation is taking place? $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jun 17 '15 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ In most cases, assume no payment or compensation. Other times are bartered for services. $\endgroup$ – Gayot Fow Jun 17 '15 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ That's two completely difference scenarios though, which is why I ask..... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jun 17 '15 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ If the trigger point differs according to scenario, we can scope this one to no payment and I can ask another question if needed. $\endgroup$ – Gayot Fow Jun 17 '15 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ The system that we use here expects questions that can have one correct answer, while you are asking for two different answers (FAA and EASA). Since you already have the FAA answer, I would suggest asking a different question about the EASA rules. For more information, see How to Ask and FAA -vs- EASA meta discussion. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jun 17 '15 at 19:33

I'll answer it from the FAA since that's what I know.

The FAR is pretty clear on the matter here

(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.

However if you want to split the cost evenly, you can:

(c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

For what it's worth I would say you can still operate under Part 91 in the case you have outlined.

Basically the FAA prevents a PPL holder from receiving any kind of compensation for a flight. This Article talks about some of the points that the FAA discussed when shutting down these services. The issue with some of these sharing services is that the middle man (AirPooler) and the like take a fee, this seems like the aspect that the FAA had an issue with since although the pilot was not profiting per se, someone was, this seems to be the FAA trigger. I don't know much about the deep aspects of the law but I'm sure there are things that can also arise with being a middleman/deal broker of these kinds of things.

  • $\begingroup$ +1, would be grateful for a view, supported or otherwise, on this side of the pond also. $\endgroup$ – Gayot Fow Jun 17 '15 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ As for the other side of the pond, I don't know the regulations (I'm a good old yankee) so I will refrain from commenting. $\endgroup$ – Dave Jun 17 '15 at 13:27

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