If a helicopter with skids is safe to fly, but not technically airworthy, do I need a Ferry Permit to hover-taxi it to the maintenance hanger on the other side of the airport? Are there any specific FARs that govern this?

(Based on the discussion in this question.)

  • $\begingroup$ @757toga If you had a fixed wing aircraft that wasn't "airworthy" by FAA standards but was entirely safe to taxi, could an appropriately rated & current pilot taxi it on the airport over to a maintenance facility? Would that qualify as "operating" it? $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I don't think within the context of FAR 91.7 in your example "operate" applies. The definition of "operate" (14 CFR 1.1) requires "air navigation" and the "piloting of aircraft" neither seems to apply in you example. As you are aware non-pilots (e.g., mechanics) taxi unairworthy fixed wing aircraft all of the time without pilot certs or a ferry permit. No pilot cert or ferry permit required as long as "flying" is not involved. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ And do FAA regs even apply to the location? Standard common law says that a land owner also owns the airspace above the property.[with a bunch of logic contortions to let aircraft legally pass over without trespassing] And since construction of up to 199.9 feet doesn't need to be registered with the FAA as an obstruction[a rule for cell towers] which you will be below, and you have the permission of the airport land owner to be there. There may be a legal case that you can hover taxi without normal flight requirements even if the FAA doesn't like it. This is not formal legal advice. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 3:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MaxPower, the general rule is that if you're airborne and within the territory of the United States, the FAA has jurisdiction. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 3:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MaxPower The Supreme Court disagrees with you. Take a look a United States v Causby supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/328/256 $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


First, a bit of background on the need for a "Special Flight Permit" (also known as a "Ferry Permit").

14 CFR Part 21.197 - Special flight permits, requires a special flight permit ("ferry permit") in order to fly an aircraft that "may not currently meet applicable airworthiness requirements but is capable of safe flight...." for the purpose of, among other reasons, "Flying the aircraft to a base where repairs, alterations, or maintenance are to be performed..."

Since the helicopter in question is not "airworthy" I think that FAR 91.7 (a)

No person may operate a civil aircraft unless it is in an airworthy condition.

would apply and you could not operate it without a ferry permit (whether or not you're flying it at 5 feet in the air or 500 feet in the air). When you're in the air (helicopter, airplane, balloon, etc.) you are "flying."

Just because the phrase "hover-taxi" is used does not mean it's not flying. The pilot would also have to be appropriately rated/current in helicopters.


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