FAA letter puts more pressure on illegal charter


The FAA has again cited unauthorised Part 135 operations as a nationwide problem in the US. The administration issued a letter (Notice number: NOTC2238) on February 1st, 2022, which stated unauthorised Part 135 operations “are putting the flying public in danger, diluting safety in the national airspace system, and undercutting the business of legitimate operators”.

This is not the first time the FAA has addressed the misuse of expense sharing and misunderstandings around pilots certificate privileges when it comes to operations involving compensation.

The limitations of expense sharing were clarified in an FAA letter. A pilot is permitted to share the operating expenses of a flight with passengers provided the pilot pays at least his/her pro rata share of the operating expenses of that flight. (The pilot cannot pay less). Those expenses are strictly limited to fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

Pilots could also be found liable if they hold out” their services to the public. This could put them into the realm of common carriage.

The letter also provides an example which focuses around what the FAA calls the “common purpose test”. The pilot collecting expense money must be able to document their own reason for travel to the destination. 

In the FAA’s “example: “A private pilot is flying to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to visit her mother in the hospital over the weekend. Five of her friends would be coming with her to attend a football game that same weekend. She can legally share expenses because she has a reason to fly to Stillwater (visit her mother) not simply to transport her friends.

“Expanding the same scenario; if she has too many friends going to the football game that she has to make a second trip to pick up the rest, she cannot legally share expenses on the second trip because her purpose for flying to Stillwater was complete when she arrived the first time. The second flight was solely for the transportation of passengers.” 

Pilots need to also understand the differences between the privileges of their certificates and the limitations on the type of operation. The FAA said commercially-rated pilots sometimes state they can legally carry passengers for hire without complying with Part 119 requirements for the operational rules” involved. The agency urges: Prior to conducting any operation, a pilot must also determine what operational rules the flight is conducted under, whether the operator has the appropriate operational certification [a Part 119 certificate], and whether the pilot has the requisite qualifications.”