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4 Answers

Commercial License

Asked by: 1500 views General Aviation

Do you need a commercial license if you were to take people on rides and charge them so they could do some filiming/photography of an off road race for example?

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4 Answers

  1. Chris Carlson on May 26, 2013

    Yes…but wait, there’s more!
    Read 61.113 and 61.133 (private and commercial privileges, respectively)
    In short, a private pilot can not fly an aircraft for hire, a commercial pilot can…but a commercial pilot can not advertise her/himself out as a commercial operator without a letter of authorization from the FAA for such a flight.
    Scenic (photo) flight rules are governed under part 91. Read 91.147 for some more specifics about the LOA I mentioned above.

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  2. Chris Carlson on May 26, 2013

    And just to add for clarity…as a private pilot, you need to pay your fraction of the cost (2 people on board, you pay half)
    I’m not a CFI(yet), but feel I answered this correctly, someone with more credentials can correct me if I’m wrong.

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  3. Mark Kolber on May 27, 2013

    > I’m not a CFI(yet), but feel I answered this correctly, someone with more credentials can correct me if I’m wrong.

    Chris, when it comes to regulations dealing with the separation of private and commercial operations, pilot and instructor credentials don’t really reflect knowledge level that much.

    That said, I don’t think you wouldn’t be able to use the shared expense exception for a situation like this.

    In order to share expenses as a private pilot, you need to have a shared purpose. If you look through the various FAA Chief Counsel opinions and NTSB decisions dealing with the subject, the bottom line has been pretty consistently interpreted to mean this: the pilot needs to have a reason to be flying (or going to the destination) that has nothing to do with the passenger.

    The best example is the common one about going to a football game. The pilot wants to go there and asks friends to join him. and they share the expenses of the trip.

    But in Brent’s scenario, the only reason for the pilot to be there is so the passenger can take photographs. That’s not sharing; that’s a commercial operation requiring at least a commercial pilot certificate.

    Moving to the LOA issue, it kind of depends on the purpose of the flight. The 91.147 requirement for a LOI and alcohol/drug testing applies to air tours operated under 119.1(e)(2). Separate from the air tour paragraph is also a commercial pilot’s ability to engage in air photography under 119.1(e)(4)(iii). As far as I know, the 91.147 requirements apply to air tours but not to aerial photography work.

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  4. Sam Dawson on May 27, 2013

    As I have written before, holding out does not in and of itself trigger 119 or 91.147. I can advertise (hold out) as a CFI, crop duster, banner tower- and other things mentioned in 119- without triggering the requirements. As Mark pointed out- aerial photography is one of these. I guess the reason that pilots get hung up and confused about “holding out” is the emphasis of this in some study guides. Study guides are not a legal reference.
    Also be aware that even if you do meet the requirements for aerial photography there are some caveats- such as only being able to carry those involved in the photography; not being able to make stops or drop people off. A bunch of others that you can read about if you go to this website:

    Type in such strings as “common purpose” and “aerial photography”.

    Finally, if you do meet the requirements prior to actually conducting such business I would suggest discussing your set up with an aviation attorney to ensure you have your ducks in a row. Don’t just rely on your local FSDO- they have been known to be wrong about such matters. The cost of an hour or two of an attorney’s time would be worth it when balanced against the possible cost should you run afoul of the FAA.

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