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If someone with a PPL has to travel for work, and they decide to take their plane, can they be reimbursed by their employer for fuel?

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This question seems to be asked periodically online, often without complete consensus, especially given differences in each unique scenario. The short answer is yes under certain restrictive conditions.

The relevant regulation is 14 CFR 61.113 in particular 14 CFR 61.113(b) which states:

(b) A private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if:

(1) The flight is only incidental to that business or employment; and

(2) The aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire.

These two requirements should be fairly straightforward, although the determination of what is considered incidental can get a bit murky. But, if your employer is asking you to transport several of your colleagues and company property that is needed at a conference, for example, this would be a violation.

The FAA clarified some of this in the Mangiamele Letter which clarifies 14 CFR 61.113(b) in the paragraph below:

Section 61.113(a) states, in pertinent part, that a private pilot may not, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft. An exception to that section states that a private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if the flight is only incidental to that business or employment and if the aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire. Thus, in this scenario, where you are only transporting yourself to the business meeting, you may be compensated for the expense of the flight.

The letter also clarifies some other situations (e.g. when passengers are on board).

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  • $\begingroup$ What if I'm also carrying a business laptop? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Sep 26, 2022 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ IANAL and IANAP, but it seems reasonable, @Someone, that you would be allowed to transport yourself and personal business needs to that meeting and have the company pay the fuel bill. The difference (to me) is that you're carrying your personal needs, not items needed by others. If you're carrying 30 laptops for demonstrations and coworkers, no, if your carrying your own work-issued laptop, you're good. (Again, not a lawyer or pilot, just attempting to apply logic & reason to what I've read here.) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:23

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