So I hold a commercial license and have a 2nd class medical. My wife is an engineer and a product she works on needs to be altitude tested (unrelated to aviation). She was suggesting that we could rent the plane from the flying club I am a member of and she could submit the receipt and get reimbursed for the flight cost. If she wasn't my spouse and was a friend asking me to rent a plane and give her the bill I'm pretty sure this is pretty clearly not OK.

We talked about doing a "pro-rata share" but wasn't sure how that's defined cause... it's my wife - shared finances and all that. Any experts have any feedback on whether or not we're okay to do this? Or if we really want to do it do we just eat the cost of the flight ourselves?

EDIT: Clarifying based on comments - This is USA (CPL) and my wife and/or company wouldn't be on the bill. It would be my name because it's a flying club and they would only rent the plane to me. So it would get charged to a credit card in my name (joint account with my wife) and she'd turn around and get it reimbursed. I agree, I'm not "holding out" in my opinion... but just trying to make sure I keep things above board.

  • $\begingroup$ @dupsatou, I'm not sure why you are concerned about this. Specifically your comment "If she wasn't my spouse and was a friend asking me to rent a plane and give her the bill I'm pretty sure this is pretty clearly NOT ok." (emphasis mine) Why would you think this is not OK? You earned a commercial pilot's license, you are now entitled to compensation for flying! $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ Because I'm providing the plane. I think that's where the main concern is. If I provide the plane and the service and all doesn't that start to make me an operator? It's one thing to be hired to fill a role as a pilot in somebody else's aviation department or in somebody's personal plane - it's another for somebody to essentially charter a flight. I feel like this falls close to chartering a flight - even though it isn't necessary with a destination in mind (we're just going up to 10-12k ft for equipment testing). You are so in-grained to be careful with your CPL - I just want to be sure $\endgroup$
    – dupsatou
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and to add... that's why I think its not okay if it's my wife. I feel like because my spouse and by extension, her employer, are the one asking it makes it a little bit more gray. $\endgroup$
    – dupsatou
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ If you are holding out as a common carrier you would definitely need an operating certificate. However, I am quite confident that an occasional private carriage of the sort you describe is perfectly legal. And even if it is a slightly gray area, I would consider the probability of it ever even becoming an issue in my decision. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


The prohibition you're worried about as a CPL is "holding out" flight services to the general public, which can be summarized as providing both plane and pilot as a package to strangers.

In this case, you would be providing both plane and pilot, so your concern is understandable. However, there is a clear personal link from you to your wife and via your wife to her employer, i.e. they're not the "general public", so you're okay. It would even be okay if your customer were a bona fide friend, rather than your wife or her employer.

If the company could rent (or otherwise provide) the plane and separately pay you to fly it, you wouldn't need that personal link. Given you're renting from a flying club, that's not possible, but it's something to keep in mind for future scenarios. Do check with the flying club to make sure it's okay with them and their insurer. I assume you have the appropriate insurance for yourself.

The pro-rata stuff only applies to a PPL, and given the FAA's policy that flight time and even employer goodwill can count as "compensation" even if no money changes hands, a PPL could still get busted even if they "eat the costs" as you propose. As a CPL, though, you don't have to worry about that, just the "holding out" rule.

  • $\begingroup$ After looking into it some more I think you are correct, this was a good answer! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – dupsatou
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 20:13

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