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6 Answers

Fly customers without requiring part 135

Asked by: 738 views , , ,
Commercial Pilot, FAA Regulations

So I realize this question has been asked a number of different ways but I need to clarify this before I proceed with some business planing. 

I am a commercially rated single/multi pilot.  I received my certificate over 25 years ago.  I fly from time to time for business and probably could have gotten away with just having my private certificate. However, now that I have plans to start up another company to provide luxury services to clients in Florida.  Having my commercial certificate, I wanted to give the option to the customers to fly down in my Cessna 340 with me.  I'm won't be specifically charging for the flight as I'll be flying down there anyway to provide them services.  So can I fly them as part of the package that they're paying for?  I'll probably make the package price is the same if they choose to use the flight portion or not.  

If this is borderline, how would I be able to make it 100% legal.  

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6 Answers



  1. Gary Moore on Jul 24, 2017

    I’m not a Part 135 expert – but it really doesn’t sound borderline. Charging people to fly them somewhere – whether or not it’s part of a package price or not – is right in the Part 135 wheelhouse.

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  2. businesstravler on Jul 24, 2017

    I don’t necessarily agree with you Gary. I have been in business for 25 years and on several occasions, I have been wooed by companies either just before or after signing a contract by being flown somewhere in their airplane and pilot. For example, I was told by a telecommunication company that if I sign a contract they would fly me to their operations center in Boston to view the NOC. I was not charged for the flight but it was agreed upon in verbally to get me to sign the contract. What’s the difference between what they did and what I’m looking to do?

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  3. R. Anderson on Jul 24, 2017

    Make an appointment to discuss this issue with your local FSDO

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  4. Mike Capuano on Jul 26, 2017

    Sounds like their offer to fly you was incidental to the contract being signed. Your proposal would not be incidental as you are exploring this option well in advance. You said yourself you are setting up a business to provide luxury services. It will be difficult to convince anyone a private flight is not part of your luxury services. Nice try.

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  5. Kris Kortokrax on Jul 26, 2017

    The following is from a legal interpretation to Ms. L. Marlene Lloyd in April of 1991:

    “In your letter you state that you are considering starting a hunting and fishing business on the eastern shore of Maryland in a remote location 123 miles from National Airport or BWI. As part of the hunting or fishing package the customer will be flown from one of those airports to a grass strip airfield located on the property. Customers will not be specifically charged for the flight, and you state that the aviation aspect is only an incidental part of the business. You hold a private pilot license, and you ask if it will be necessary for you to obtain a commercial pilot license in order for you to carry out your plan. You cite section 61.118 (a) of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) in the hope that you may be exempt from the requirement for a commercial license, since you believe that the flying is only incidental to the operation of the business.

    It will not only be necessary for you to obtain a commercial pilot license, you will also need an instrument rating, and you will need to have your operation certificated under Part 135 of the FAR and obtain an Air Taxi/Commercial Operator (ATCO) certificate.”

    From the same letter:

    “The threshold question is whether the passenger carrying flights you propose are conducted for compensation or hire. An operation is conducted for compensation or hire when the operator furthers his economic interests by transporting persons or property by air. It is not necessary that there be a charge for the flight or that there be an actual profit to constitute compensation or hire. Administrator V. Motley, 2 NTSB 178, 180 (1973). In the example you cite, there can be no doubt that you would be furthering your economic interests by providing air transportation, whether or not you are directly reimbursed, or whether the cost is factored into the cost of the hunting package or the cost of the business.”

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  6. Mark Kolber on Jul 29, 2017

    Make an appointment to see an aviation attorney who is fluent in these rules. The basic rule as stated in the formal interpretation Kris cited, is straightforward. An economic benefit, even if not in the form of money, is compensation. Packages that include transportation are particularly suspect. There is also an NTSB case specifically holding that the generation of potential future business goodwill can be compensation for a flight.

    You mention being wooed by a free flight. Generally speaking, limited transportation of business customers is permitted for Part 91, Subpart F aircraft by FAR 91.501(b)(5). Smaller aircraft can take advantage of the rule via an exemption available to members of the National Business Aircraft Association. That’s probably what was involved in your wooing.

    But whether that does or might apply to your proposal is not an easy question to answer. I’m not answering that and, were it my proposed business venture, it is certainly not one I would want answered by SGOTI. A real business idea requires real business due diligence.

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