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Is it legal for a pilot with an FAA license to fly a foreign registered aircraft within the United States? Is it covered by FAA regulations, or the country of aircraft registration?

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Yes. 14 CFR 61.3(b) covers this (my emphasis):

(b) Required pilot certificate for operating a foreign-registered aircraft within the United States. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of foreign registry within the United States, unless—

(1) That person's pilot certificate or document issued under §61.29(e) is in that person's physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate; and

(2) Has been issued in accordance with this part, or has been issued or validated by the country in which the aircraft is registered.

So a US license (i.e. one issued under part 61) is allowed as an alternative to a foreign license for operating the foreign aircraft. The other country could have rules on this too, but I have no idea if they would be enforceable (obviously, one country's laws are usually not valid in another one).

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  • $\begingroup$ The rules probably may not be be enforceable against the pilot, but they may be enforced against the owner or operator who are likely resident in the country of registration. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jan 9 '17 at 20:04
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There are reciprocity treaties requiring most countries to allow foreign aircraft to fly in their airspace. It probably depends on whether the country involved has such a treaty in place with the United States.

See bilateral treaties and AOPA importing requirements.

In general, the FAA tolerates foreign aircraft to be operated in the US indefinitely so long as they meet airworthiness standards. In theory, they claim you have "imported" the aircraft and require you to re-register it, but this does not normally happen.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Tyler, my question isn't about foreign aircraft operating in the US, but rather whether a US pilot can operate a foreign aircraft in the US. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger May 1 '14 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ Of course. Many foreign airlines employ US pilots to fly their planes all over the world, including the United States, and private planes and charters are no different. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden May 1 '14 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Validate? I don't know how to make this any clearer. A pilot with either a US license or license from a country with which the US has a bilateral agreement can fly any plane for which they are qualified in any country and it does not matter whether the plane is registered in that country or not. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden May 2 '14 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Thats foreign governments, not the United States. You asked about the United States. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden May 2 '14 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger A foreign government cannot dictate who or who may not fly their planes in the United States. If I have a friend with a plane registered in Germany located at an American airfield, the friend can allow me to fly the plane and there is nothing the government of Germany has to say about it. What are they going to do, say "we found out you let an American pilot fly that German plane so we are revoking its registration" ??? Where are you going with this line of questioning? I don't understand what you are getting at. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden May 2 '14 at 20:03

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