A CFI can only log 8hrs of in-flight dual given in a 24hr period (FAR 61.195). In my scenario, a CFI is required to be aboard a plane to satisfy insurance requirements. This CFI will put in a 17hr day, all of it in a plane that a non-student customer is flying as PIC. The customer has a valid medical, is current, and is appropriately rated in category and class.

The CFI might (or might not, he doesn't need the time) log a few hours of dual given to complete a checkout with this customer but then just sit there for the next ~15hrs staring out the window as the ground slides by and the customer racks up the hours he needs.

At the end of a very long day the CFI hands the customer a bill for 17hrs and is rewarded about as handsomely as a CFI can be rewarded. The CFI walks away with a fat stack of $20s and maybe 3hrs in the logbook.

Has the CFI broken a rule?

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    $\begingroup$ The rule says that "In any 24-consecutive-hour period, a flight instructor may not conduct more than 8 hours of flight training.", So if you are billing for 15 hours of CFI time, you would probably have a hard time telling the FAA that you were being a flight instructor and not being one at the same time... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Nov 21 '17 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, then no training is logged. The CFI, or any insurance approved pilot, just sits there. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ Suppose something happens 15 hours into the flight. PIC falls asleep (easy to do after you've been alert constantly for that long), a situation develops that the PIC don't know how to handle, whatever. What is the CFI expected to do? What if the same thing happens one hour into the flight? Nine hours into the flight? $\endgroup$ – user Nov 21 '17 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ PIC may deviate from any rule...etc etc. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ The scope is pretty clearly defined. An insurance qualified pilot must be on the plane for the customer to fly it. That's it. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 22:22

As far as I can tell, it's legal but probably not very smart, at least if I understand correctly that the aircraft renter intends to fly 17 hours in one 24-hour period. A single pilot isn't going to be at his best after spending 17 out of 24 hours in the left seat, which means someone could argue you're violating 91.13. As always, ask yourself if you're confident you could defend your decisions to the FAA.

But if we leave all that aside, I'd say the key question is what exactly the policy requires and therefore what the CFI is being paid for. I'm assuming this is a part 91 flight (and not a fractional ownership operation), and the aircraft only requires one pilot.

The restriction in 61.195 is specifically on providing training:

(a) Hours of training. In any 24-consecutive-hour period, a flight instructor may not conduct more than 8 hours of flight training.

If the CFI isn't paid to provide flight training - or at least not more than 8 hours of it - then that regulation doesn't apply. It sounds to me like the insurance company simply requires someone with certain qualifications to be on board and that person has no specific duties.

That means, the CFI is providing a service as a professional pilot. I say "professional" not "commercial" because if he never acts as PIC then he isn't exercising the privileges of a commercial certificate. Of course, if something goes badly wrong (like the acting PIC falling asleep at the controls...) and he needs to take command then he would be acting as a commercial pilot.

All in all, I can't see any regulation (assuming 61.195 doesn't apply) that would stop you paying the CFI for his time as a 'professional passenger'.

  • $\begingroup$ This is where I am, too. I can't see the connection between 61.195 -or- commercial duties and this specific corner case. 17hrs is intentionally extreme, so realistically let's call it a 10hr day (easy to do in a piston SE or ME). Fractional regs don't apply, it is part 91. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @acpilot There is no connection, as far as I can see. But if something goes wrong I think the FAA will be sceptical that the CFI is really just a passenger and nothing more. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Nov 21 '17 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with you there. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ I selected this as the answer but am not totally convinced that it is. Will revisit this if I learn more. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Dec 26 '17 at 6:33

In my scenario, a CFI is required to be aboard a plane to satisfy insurance requirements.

This is the important line and you need to reference the policy for the exact wording. I happen to have some quotes from when I was shopping for an M20C about a year ago and here is the exact wording from my aircraft owner policy,

Named Pilots and Additional Pilot Requirements

You are to receive a minimum of 5 hours dual flight instruction in the make/model by a CFI who meets all the requirements of the policy and receive a written endorsement in your logbook from the CFI prior to solo; then 5 hours solo in the make/model prior to carrying passengers.

In this case it clearly states that the time is all flight instruction and not simply "CFI present" time if your policy is written this way then its pretty clear the FAR would be broken in your scenario. I think its safe to assume most policies are written this way although if the policy simply states CFI on board then its tough, although I agree with Ron's comment its going to be hard to explain as a CFI that you just "sat there".

  • $\begingroup$ The customer only needs 20hrs in a plane and has no intention of buying the make/model or ever flying it again. The CFI (or any insurance approved pilot, PPL through ATP) is literally just a warm body to keep the insurance effective should something happen. I don't see this as dual given (say zero instruction is logged) and it doesn't fit the "commercial pilot" duty scope either because the right seater litrrally never touches the controls. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ @acpilot if that is the case it sounds more like safety pilot duties, in which case the second person must be appropriately certified to be a safety pilot. What insurance are you referencing, its mostly comes down to the letter of the policy. Is this non-owned policy? $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 21 '17 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ The plane is owned by a school. The instructor works for that school. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @acpilot who's policy is stipulating someone else must be on board? The customers gap policy? The schools policy? Must they always be on board? Is the pilot unfit for solo operations? (I know there are some situations where you can maintain your license as long as someone else is in the plane) $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 21 '17 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ The school's renter policy. The customer is otherwise current in cat and class with a valid first class. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 18:16

Well it depends. First off the CFI could only bill him for a minimum or eight hours of instruction time per §§61.195, so a bill for 17 hours of flight instruction is illegal under law.

Now if it happened that the pilot undergoing training hired via his own solicitation, the CFI as a commercial pilot could fly him under Part 91 Regs for the 17 hours. This would have to be understood in advance or through a binding contract, and flight instruction could not take place for more than eight (8) hours during the trip.

While technically legal, this kind of flight is highly inadvisable as the CFI would be severely fatigued after such a long flight, whether he spent it as PIC or not. There are reasons that Part 121 and Part 135 operations limit their flight time to eight (8) hours in a 24 hour period.

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    $\begingroup$ But why? The CFI is simply existing and not providing instruction or even flying. The customer does not need or want instruction, only hours. Let's say the CFI does not log any time at all because a checkout isn't required How is this any different from a PPL private owner doing the same thing for a friend who needs flight time in, say, that PPL owner's C421? $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ Because you’re offering your airmanship skills for compensation or hire, which is regulated under Part 61and 91. This includes, but not limited to, limits of the total duration for flight time for compensation or hire. You may be able to fly with the guy for 17 hours, but you cannot instruct for that period or fly for hire more than 10 hours. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Nov 21 '17 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ I see where you are going but I'm not seeing the connection between 61.195 and compensation. .195 only specifies the number of hours a CFI can work and has nothing to do with compensation (ground bill vs flight bill, for example). I also don't see how this is commercial flying since there is no PIC acting or logging happening anywhere. Honestly, I'm looking to be convinced. I'm planning to write chief council in DC, too. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Nov 21 '17 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ It also states that you can’t give flight instruction for more than 8 hours in a 24 hour day. Charging for 17 hours implies you are doing flight instruction or other commercial flying exceeding the limits for crew work. That’s illegal. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Nov 21 '17 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ 14 CFR 91, Subpart K (including 91.1059) applies to fractional programs and does not appear to apply to the situation in question here. Apart from the 8 hr constraint on CFIs instructing, §91 otherwise places no explicit time constraints on duration of flying for hire. A 10, 14, or even 17 hr commercial flying day could be legal. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Nov 21 '17 at 18:27

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