My employer would like me to get my Private Pilot License, and is funding the remainder of my training. The intention is to have me do my training on company time.

I am an engineer, and sit in the copilot seat of aircraft we test while collecting data. A commercial pilot actually flies, but for safety's sake, they would like me to have my private license while doing testing.

Could this potentially breach the commercial limitations of a Private Pilot license, as I am "technically" receiving compensation (my salary) while flying on company time? Or, as this salary is already being paid to me for my actual job duties, would the salary not be considered a contributing factor?

(For example, plan is to instead of working 40 hours/week, I would work 30 hours/week, and fly for 10/hrs/week)

If this would be a violation, would the solution to instead be to continue working 40 hour weeks, and accomplish those 10 hours outside of company time?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation SE! This is a good first question! $\endgroup$ – DLH Oct 16 '18 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What is the difference between "flying in furtherance of a business" and "flying for compensation"? $\endgroup$ – Terran Swett Oct 16 '18 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @TannerSwett I don't believe it is a duplicate, though it's "related". I responded to your answer with clarification as to why. $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ What is your employers goal with having you get your PPL? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Oct 16 '18 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ Voting against closing... the other questions is essentially, "as a private pilot, can I do ___?" This question is, on the other hand, "as a student pilot, can I ___?" I think questions about who can pay for your training to become a Private Pilot, are sufficiently distinct from questions about what you can do once you ARE a Private Pilot, that this is not a duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Oct 16 '18 at 19:59

No law against this. Nor is there any restriction on who pays for your flight training. You’re referencing something which applies to you privileges as a student pilot. You may not act as PIC for compensation or hire, nor carry passengers or cargo for compensation or hire (61.89, 61.113). Having an employer pay for your flight training cannot be viewed this way. Again these regulations are only applicable to time as PIC, so as a student this would be only solo flight time.

One catch here could be is if the underlying ‘anticipated’ use of the training is primarily business related. I’d consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in aviation law for the specifics of your situation if you’re still not clear on the legalities of this matter.

Now if the employer attempts to have you perform flight duties in the furtherance of their business while you were a student pilot, i.e. they asked you to ferry an airplane for them somewhere, or perform some other task which is not related to your flight training, that does violate the law. But the employer only paying for you to undergo flight training is not a violation of federal law.

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  • $\begingroup$ But presumably, the employer is receiving some benefit in this situation, or else they wouldn't be offering the deal. So in this scenario, the pilot is flying, the employer is receiving benefit from the flying, and the employer pays the pilot for the flying. Is that right? $\endgroup$ – Terran Swett Oct 16 '18 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @TannerSwett I am an engineer, and sit in the copilot seat of aircraft we test while collecting data. A commercial pilot actually flies, but for safety's sake, they would like me to have my private license while doing testing. $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione - My question though refers specifically to the fact that my training is not only be covered, my training hours are also PAID hours, that would count as party of my weekly hours. So, I am "receiving compensation while flying", which to my understanding is not allowed. Maybe I am wrong, which is why I ask. $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ That all depends. It will be necessary to see how your flight training promoted or improved your employers business before one can make such a decision. And incidentally that would only apply to time served as PIC only, which in your case as a student pilot would be solo time only. All other flight training activities are not covered under those regulations. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Oct 16 '18 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ If it was a problem then how could an airline hire someone off the street and give them paid training? Until they get their CPL they can't fly for hire, so if they considered training as compensation an airline would be unable to do this. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Oct 16 '18 at 17:37

No, there is no law to prevent your employer from compensating you for flight training or future work as an engineer - so long as you are not acting as PIC for a commercial flight.

We can give this a test by asking, "Does a doctor, nurse, news reporter, etc, need to have a commercial pilots license in order to perform their duties while in an aircraft and being paid by an employer? Of course not!

Being paid to train is entirely different than being paid as PIC for the carriage of passengers or goods. Another good example is many aircraft have load masters or older jets may have mechanics travel on all flights - they don't need a commercial pilots license either. It's only if you are the PIC (or co-pilot of a multi-crew aircraft).

Some 3 crew aircraft require an "engineer" (manages fuel, pressurization, etc) and he does not have to be a pilot or hold a commercial license.

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  • $\begingroup$ Aircraft that require a flight engineer require an FAA flight engineer's license... They don't differentiate between commercial/atp for that one though. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Oct 16 '18 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ A flight engineer, mechanic, nurse, or doctor all require certificates, but do not need a "commercial" license and has nothing to do with whether the flight is a private or commercial. Only the pilot and copilot matter. I use to be a "flight mechanic" on B-727. All I was was a paid A&P employee that road with the airplane. It is still common for older aircraft such as B747 to have mechanics with them in foreign countries - no commercial license is needed. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Oct 16 '18 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt Good answer, but I am unsure how the example in the second paragraph relates? Could you elaborate? $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @matt - The point is: you can be paid to be in the aircraft and still not need a commercial license. The commercial license requirement is only needed if you are the pilot or co-pilot. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Oct 16 '18 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$ – M28 Oct 16 '18 at 19:55

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