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FAR 61.101(e)(12) states a recreational pilot may not

demonstrate that aircraft in flight as an aircraft salesperson to a prospective buyer;`

(Please note use of the world salesperson.)

AOPA's website publishes a question, presumably taken from the FAA knowledge test bank, which reads

  1. Under what conditions, if any, may a recreational pilot demonstrate an aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer?
    A) The buyer pays all the operating expenses.
    B) The flight is not outside the United States.
    C) None

According to AOPA (and other sites which publish the identical question), the answer is C) None.

So we can conclude the FAA knowledge test is saying that a Recreational Pilot may never demonstrate an airplane to a prospective buyer, no matter who is the plane's owner.

Is a Recreational Pilot de facto considered a salesperson when wishing to sell his/her plane? A lay definition of salesperson is someone whose job is to sell something. Certainly a private, non-dealer owner could not be considered to be "someone whose job...".

But perhaps the FAA has defined salesperson more broadly, or the test bank question could be erroneous (it wouldn't be the first time an official answer is subtly wrong).

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  • $\begingroup$ I have deleted my answer because Pondlife bested me, and it would take to much editing to be accurate and competitive, but I do feel compelled to comment on my point that it is important to include a complete quote from the regs for the meaning to be correct. Case in point: "...a recreational pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft to demonstrate that aircraft..." Acting as PIC is different than performing a demo, and your omission of the first part changed the meaning. Good question though, and I'm glad you got your answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ What if you were simply taking a new friend for a purely recreational ride in your aircraft, and they shortly after decided to buy it, in a wholly unrelated turn of events? (Seems this isn't actually a problem, but if it were, I think it'd be terribly hard to enforce) $\endgroup$
    – TCooper
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ @TCooper, there's nothing to enforce, because that's ok. Read the answer below. Besides, in your example it was, as you say, a purely recreational flight, not a demo. You can't retroactively recategorize it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 4:11

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It looks like a recreational pilot can demo their own aircraft, because the FAA considers "salesperson" to be a profession or job in the lay sense that you mentioned.

This is from the Federal Register:

The FAA maintains that, for sales demonstrations that are not conducted by an aircraft salesperson, a sport pilot or a recreational pilot can conduct this activity. Therefore, to ensure that recreational pilots have at least the same privileges as sport pilots, the FAA is revising § 61.101(d)(12) to allow a recreational pilot to conduct sales demonstration flights as long as the pilot is not acting as an aircraft salesperson.

The original wording of 61.101(d)(12) was:

To demonstrate that aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer

The current wording you quoted is:

to demonstrate that aircraft in flight as an aircraft salesperson to a prospective buyer

In other words, they added "as an aircraft salesperson" to clarify that the restriction only applies to salespeople, not to all recreational pilots.

That means the question you quoted is apparently wrong. As to why it's wrong, I have no idea. The FAA doesn't actually publish its test question banks so many "FAA questions" out there aren't official at all.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good additional info from the Federal Register regarding intent, and a good answer! I thought I had this one in the bag, but now I'm contemplating deleting mine. I think there are some valid points in it that may be useful, but now it isn't really accurate or correct... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife thanks for the excellent answer, most particular the dive into the prior wording to show intent and not accident. Regarding the test bank, I had thought that the FAA's test banks were publicly accessible, under FOIA. Is this no longer the case? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall Thanks! I wasn't convinced that the regulation meant that a recreational pilot could demo an aircraft only if they weren't PIC. That seemed pretty convoluted to me, even for the FAA :-) $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @KennSebesta I have no idea, I just know that it's 'common knowledge' that the banks aren't available (you can find lots of search hits about it on forums etc.). I have no idea whether they'd be subject to FOIA or not. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 22:35

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