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PPT Pleasure Flight & Shooting Video

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FAA Regulations, General Aviation

I have been unable to locate in Part 61 or 91 clarification around a private pilot rated pleasure flight that during the flight a passenger shoots some video which is later used for a business purpose. Shooting video is not the focus of the flight. Could someone comment about the flight and FARs? Thank you.

2 Answers



  1. John D. Collins on Jun 17, 2013

    The regulation is 61.113 quoted below in part:

    Sec. 61.113

    Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft.
    (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.
    (c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

    There are several FAA General Counsel opinions regarding what constitutes compensation and a related topic of holding out. Holding out is when you offer to provide piloting services for hire or compensation. A private pilot is permitted to share a pro rata of expenses if the flight has a common purpose, for example you and a friend are both going to the same football game. But you may not post on a website that you will provide a flight to anyone that will share expenses with you. The FAA interprets what it considers to be compensation very liberally, including free flight time.

    A search on the FAA General Counsel website for opinions on 61.113 yields 27 different opinions. I suggest you read thru them. See http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/agc/pol_adjudication/agc200/interpretations/?year=all&q=61.113&bSubmit=Search

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  2. Mark Kolber on Jun 17, 2013

    It’s clear that, as a private pilot, you may not act as a compensated platform for a aerial photography business (not even if you are the photographer). And, as John pointed out, the FAA’s view of what is considered to be “compensation” is pretty broad – mostly for the purpose of getting at activity that look, smells and quacks like the duck of business activity.

    OTOH, if you and a buddy go flying, the buddy takes some photographs and, when back home, he looks at them and goes, “hey! That’s the best photo I ever took! I wonder if it would sell?” and gives it a successful shot, the chances are likely that there’s no foul.

    But between the friend with the accidental sale and a formal photo business photographer you are going to fly, there’s a lot of situation-specific “quacks-like-a-duck” analysis.

    So I guess the question to consider from your end is what is the arrangement? Who is the photographer? Was there a planned use for the video and what was it? And, what do you, the pilot, get out of it?

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