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7 Answers

Private Pilot Reimbursement

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Private Pilot

So a slight variation on a previous quetion. I am a Private Pilot and my employer asked that a co-worker and I travel to a site 4 hours away for a meeting and to perfrom some software maintainence. My co-worker (who is also a friend of mine) decided to fly up to save 3 hours of travel time and be home in time for supper. We had our all-day-meeting and flew home. What can I submit for reimbursement? Gas, Oil, Engine time, ramp fees? Clearly, the flying was incidental to the trip and we work for the same employer.

Follow-up question, will this be any different once I get my commercial?

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7 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Feb 03, 2013

    Nothing. As soon as you took another co-worker or business equipment along, you are required to have a commercial license.

    The employer picked the destination, you flew a coworker with you to that destination and the only reason to fly was for business.

    Once you have your commercial license, the employer has to produce the aircraft and not the pilot. As soon as the employer, asks the pilot to use their aircraft (or get an aircraft for rent) it becomes a Part 135 operation.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Feb 03, 2013

    Unfortunately, once there is a passenger on board (since this was not an aircraft or operation requiring two pilots, whoever was not acting as PIC was merely a passenger, the ability to obtain reimbursement is over. Notice that the regulation that permits reimbursement says:

    61.113(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.

    It’s (b)(2) that prevents reimbursement from taking place when there is more than one employee on.

    For years, pilots thought what you were suggesting was OK. Then, apparently someone asked the FAA Chief Counsel’s office and got this reply:


    There has been an effort since this letter was issued to get the Chief Counsel’s office to change its mind but, so far, no dice.

    You and your co-worker can share expenses under 61.113(c), but the FAA says getting employer reimbursement is not permitted.

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  3. Josh on Feb 04, 2013

    I was afraid of that. Thanks for the info gents! I had someone explain it to me differently. They had states that if the flying was incidental (i could have driven and my employer doesn’t ask me to fly or even suggest it) and I was going for the purpose of a meeting and not just to fly someone that it was permited. Thanks for the clarification though, more motivation to get that commercial license.

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  4. Wes Beard on Feb 04, 2013

    If you decide to fly yourself with no business equipment then the flight is only incidental and you can be reimbursed.

    If, after doing this, the employer sees the advantage of having you fly to the meetings then it is no longer incidental and you must drive to get paid for the travel time.

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  5. Gary Moore on Feb 04, 2013

    You also think about insurance? What happens if something tragic happens on this flight? Does you employer really want to be on the hook for that??

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  6. John D. Collins on Feb 04, 2013


    The flight would still be incidental as long as the employer didn’t require you fly yourself or make it a duty of your employment. As long as it is your choice for the method of travel, it is merely to attend a business meeting, and flying is incidental to your business, you may be reimbursed, whether or not you employer sees an advantage to your flying to the meeting. Hopefully your employer sees it as at least an acceptable form of your transportation, When I worked for IBM, they would reimburse for private flying up to equivalent car mileage or the lowest airfare. IBM at the time had a very progressive view on permitting its employees to fly in their own private aircraft, but then again, the CEO at the time was a pilot.

    If you take a passenger along, then you may not be reimbursed by your employer but may share operating expenses with your passenger. The flight has to be for a common purpose, so if you are attending the meeting, but the passenger is visiting his mom, that is not considered a common purpose.

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  7. Mark Kolber on Feb 04, 2013

    >>The flight has to be for a common purpose, so if you are attending the meeting, but the passenger is visiting his mom, that is not considered a common purpose.<<

    John, don't forget, the FAA Chief Counsel, in one of the few times in this area where private rights were expanded, has said that only the destination is necessary to meet the common purpose requirement. Th reason for the trip does not have to be the same. http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/agc/pol_adjudication/agc200/interpretations/data/interps/2011/Haberkorn.pdf

    When reading the letter, people tend to get caught up in the Facebook discussion. For the "common purpose" part, go directly to page 3:

    2). Second, you question whether you and your passengers share a common purpose if you are travelling to Long Island for a wedding but your passengers express an interest in. going to Long Island to attend a baseball game. The existence of a bona fide common purpose is determined on a case-by-case basis. Based on these facts, there appears to be a bona fide common purpose, as the destination was dictated by the pilot, not the passengers, and both you and your passengers have personal business to conduct in Long Island. The purpose of this flight is not merely to transport your passengers to Long Island.

    So long as the you don't fly the passenger to different airport than the one you are going to anyway for the business meeting, there should be no problem with him visiting his mom.

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