Can the holder of a commercial pilot certificate rent an airplane (with a recent 100-hour inspection) from a fixed-base operator and use it to carry passengers for hire?

I believe the answer this is a "NO" since this pilot would be holding out by providing the airplane to the passenger, thus, this pilot would illegally be acting as a commercial operator / air carrier. Basically, the pilot and the airplane would be coming from the same source, even though the pilot doesn't actually own the plane and is renting it from somewhere else.

EDIT: Sorry, yes, I'm asking in regards to US regulations (FAA).

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    $\begingroup$ How would this differ from a charter operator using a leased aircraft (other than, say, 737 vs. Cessna 182)? $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ Why would the difference between renting the aircraft & owning it change the need for a Part 135 certificate? (As well as the exceptions for when such a certificate isn't needed.) $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Most FBOs that rent airplanes probably say that you cannot do this in the rental agreement... $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2021 at 3:52

2 Answers 2


It doesn’t matter whether the pilot rents, leases or owns the plane; if they are offering “aviation services” to the “general public”, then they are “holding out” and would need an Air Operator Certificate.


You're right. In all but a few situations a commercial pilot is essentially the same as a private pilot(you pay your pre-rata share). In a nutshell a commercial pilot can be paid to work for a carrier(part121/part135) or can be hired by an aircraft owner to fly the owners airplane on behalf of the owner and for the owners direct benefit(e.g. corporate pilot). There are some special circumstances and exceptions the regulations cover, but in broad strokes the above is true.


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