When Virgin Airlines USA was being established, the company was forced to restructure due to a determination that effective ownership and control was held by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, a non-US entity. These rules are widely criticized in many countries, but existing carriers like the reduced competition they provide and lobby to keep them in place.

Uber plans an air taxi service and has recently sold a significant share to Softbank, a Japanese company (Fortune). Uber as a ride hailing service has worked around many conventional taxi regulations, but as it gets into air taxis it will be up against the US Department of Transportation which is not so easy to push around. If Elevate is considered an air taxi it will have to respect air taxi rules.

Are US air taxi companies subject to domestic ownership and control rules just as domestic airlines are?


The most important thing to remember is that currently there is only one FAA regulation about person-carrying autonomous drones: it is simply not permitted.

Both 14CFR Part 121 (airlines) and Part 135 (charter/air-taxi) have ownership and citizenship requirements. (It is of course not known what Part person-carrying drones would be under, but we can assume similar requirements.)

However why should this affect Uber? They do not own the cars that are currently in the fleet; in exactly the same way they could have the aircraft be owned not by Uber, but by some sub-contractor.

  • $\begingroup$ What are the part 135 ownership and citizenship rules? I was thinking about this in the Uber context, but rather than generating speculation about how Uber would be classified I asked only about US air taxi operators. $\endgroup$ – Pilothead May 24 '18 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ But the sub-contractor, under the Uber model for cars, would have be a private aircraft owner hiring himself out under the Uber banner. Which would require the private owner to get an OC and commercially register his aircraft yadda yadda yadda. That won't work. And if Uber is going to subcontract with existing air taxi operators, that would be like them contracting out to auto taxi companies. Doesn't make a lot of sense. $\endgroup$ – John K May 24 '18 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean "that won't work"? The question here is about Uber and its foreign investors (Softbank), not about any sub-contractors. Yes of course the sub-contractors would have to conform to whatever citizenship/ownership regulation ultimately gets passed. (Incidentally, Uber does also use auto taxi companies.) $\endgroup$ – Phliar Phil May 29 '18 at 3:11

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