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I will soon have my commercial pilot's license, and work full-time in a company and role unrelated to aviation. As a private pilot under FAA part 61.113b, I know that I can fly myself to conferences or sales meetings while having my employer reimburse me for the aircraft rental because the flight is only incidental to my employment.

My boss asked if my new CPL will allow me to take coworkers on such a trip, and I don't know how to answer him. It would be incidental to my employment and for a common purpose (i.e. I am also attending the same meeting), and there is no holding out since it would only be employees of the same company for a common purpose. I am also salaried, so there is no additional direct pay for the flight (just logging time). I'm not sure how to answer, and there are 3 scenarios to further complicate this (assume all aircraft have had 100-hr inspections):

  1. I rent the plane and submit for reimbursement along with my other ordinary business expenses.
  2. The company seeks out and rents the plane without my input.
  3. The company rents the plane from an FBO, but after asking me for a recommendation on where to find one.

Which of these are permitted with a CPL? I'm 99% sure that #2 is completely fine, but can't find regulations for or against the other scenarios.

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Since you have a CPL, you can receive compensation for flying.

Your question and concern is over the means of reimbursement which may have implications beyond that of the FAA. That said, I'm not a lawyer and I would suggest your company consult with one and establish a policy. Most companies I've worked for prohibit personal flying incidental to the business specifically due to liability concerns.

To avoid confusion, I would stick with option 1) as that makes it clear it's your choice to fly and not that of the business. If the company rents the plane, it may expose the company to additional FAA regulation as well as liability and tax implications.

As a point of explanation; before I retired from the USAF it was not uncommon to use private aircraft to travel on TDY (Temporary Duty - the military version of a business trip). The rules under AF regs and the Joint Travel Regulations (DoD) allowed you to travel using a privately owned aircraft or a rented aircraft. IIRC the AF required a CPL/IR and a total of 200 hrs. The rules also specified what expenses were allowed and how they were to be reimbursed.

If you used your own aircraft, it was classified as POV (Personally Owned Vehicle) travel. That was no different than driving your own car on the trip. In that case you were reimbursed at the POV mileage rate. That rate when I was in was actually less than the IRS allowed mileage rate and wouldn't come close to covering the cost. It also didn't matter if anyone was travelling with you, be it a coworker or family member.

If you rented an aircraft, it was treated the same as if the company allowed you to rent a car to make the trip. You were reimbursed your actual rental cost (wet) up to the cost airfare for the trip for all persons travelling together. What that meant was that if you traveled alone, the reimbursement was typically less than the rental cost (say \$400 for airfare vs \$600 rental). If you had two or more travelers, the airfare typically exceeded the rental cost and the entire rental was covered. The limitation was that only coworkers on travel orders counted towards the reimbursement.

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A simple, but not comprehensive, way of looking at it is:

  1. Who supplies the plane?
  2. Who supplies the pilot?

Not examining all circumstances, if you work for the company, and one of the things they pay you for is flying, that makes things easy.

If the company supplies the plane, (whether they own it, lease it, or rent it, with or without your input) that makes things easy.

So assuming that your boss asks you to fly for the company, and the company provides the plane, things look good. However there are are few more details. Your company should have their risk management people take a look at it, primarily from an insurance standpoint. Also, you should consider negotiating with the company for checkout and recurrent training. This way you can readily get some paid time in the plane, and get things like IPC or other currency rides accomplished at company expense.

I have flown many fellow employees in corporate aircraft. If they are experienced, I put them in the right seat (we have a couple of U-2 and one older SR-71 pilot on staff), even if they are a private pilot. I brief them and make clear what I expect from them.

You may wish to enhance your knowledge and skills when flying others. I have a dotted line to the corporate flight department, which is very helpful. Sounds like you may not have that, but you want to expand your skills on handling people, first aid, etc. My chief corporate pilot suggested that I take CPR, survival courses, etc. which I took advantage of. Never needed them, but I have flown globally in very remote areas, and having that training was nice.

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  • $\begingroup$ "we have a couple of U-2 and one older SR-71 pilot on staff"!!!! wow. Must be interesting times 'round the water cooler with those chaps. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Feb 5 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Very few stories about those flights. $\endgroup$ – mongo Feb 6 at 2:01

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