Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

4 Answers

Legality of dropping a student off at different airport

Asked by: 3337 views , , , ,
Flight Instructor, Student Pilot

I have a student that wants me to drop he and his friend off at an airport two hours away, with the friend in the back seat.  He wants to practice cross country flight planning and navigation, and related procedures. I would then fly the airplane back solo. 

My question is would this be infringing upon part 135 (charter operations), or would this be legal, as long as I am giving my student instruction?

Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Actual FAA Questions / Free Lifetime Updates
The best explanations in the business
Fast, efficient study.
Pass Your Checkride With Confidence!
FAA Practical Test prep that reflects actual checkrides.
Any checkride: Airplane, Helicopter, Glider, etc.
Written and maintained by actual pilot examiners and master CFIs.
The World's Most Trusted eLogbook
Be Organized, Current, Professional, and Safe.
Highly customizable - for student pilots through pros.
Free Transition Service for users of other eLogs.
Our sincere thanks to pilots such as yourself who support AskACFI while helping themselves by using the awesome PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android aviation apps of our sponsors.

4 Answers

  1. Gary Moore on Jul 29, 2011

    Well – hopefully other’s will weigh in with a more formal answer – but here’s how I see it.  Thre is nothing inherently wrong with you providing cross country instruction to a destination that is useful to your student.  And there is no real problem with his friend flying along in the back seat.  If he wants to stay at that location – so be it.
    I think the issue gets murky with your solo flight back ‘home’.  Who’s paying for that?  If it’s you – then I say go for it with a clear conscience (though you are more generous that I) – BUT if your student is paying for that return trip – I would find that a bit dicey. 

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. John D. Collins on Jul 29, 2011

    I don’t know the answer to your question, but it may make a difference as to who owns the airplane.  I looked thru opinions of the FAA Chief Counsel’s office and couldn’t find one that asked your specific question.  You could submit the question to the Chief Counsel’s office and they would give you an opinion, although it takes about three months to get an answer.


    It seems to me that the primary purpose of the flight is to transport the student and passenger to the other airport and the secondary purpose is to make good use of the time and provide the student some needed instruction.  The purpose of the transportation may be recreational or business related. There is a prohibition on student flight in furtherance of business, although the wording of FAR 61.89 may just apply to when the student is acting as pilot in command.


    One distinction that is frequently made in the Chief Counsel’s opinions is who is providing the aircraft.  When both the aircraft and the pilot are provided by the same party, for example a flight school rents the airplane and you are an employee of the flight school, then the flight can be considered part 135 if the purpose of the flight is to transport passengers.  I think there is a good chance that the FAA would consider the flight as transportation.  It would be clearer if the flight started and ended at the same airport, as it might more reasonably be considered a training flight for the entire flight.


    If the same flight is conducted, but the aircraft is owned by the student, then you are merely being hired for your flying or instructional services, and it would not be considered part 135.  If I assume the return flight would be for compensation, and require you to use your commercial certificate privileges. You would have to have a current second class medical certificate eligible for commercial privileges. The instructor pilot only needs a third class medical certificate to conduct an instructional flight, but if passengers are carried, would need the second class certificate.


    So my conclusion is, I don’t know, which is where I started.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Andy Neumann on Jul 30, 2011

    In situations like this where there is a dual-purpose to flight, I would say to error on the side of caution and apply the most binding rules.  Is this flight “student instruction” or “carriage of persons for compensation/hire”?  The answer is that it is both, so both sets of rules apply, and therefore it is a commercial operation requiring an air carrier certificate (Part 135). Let’s say I’m a CFI and I also fly for a legal Part 135 charter company.  If I have a load of passengers in the back, and it just so happens that I have a passenger sitting up front watching what I’m doing, I can’t just say “well, we’ll call this instruction, so we can ignore all the Part 135 rules for this flight.”   That might not be the best example, but put yourself in the FAA inspector’s shoes–he/she is going to see that you are engaging in carriage of passengers for compensation or hire, but you are trying to get out of complying with those rules by calling it student instruction.  I don’t think that will go over well.  I wouldn’t do it.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  4. Matthew Waugh on Jul 31, 2011

    As John says – the key is who provides the plane. If the student provides the plane (owns it or borrows it from a friend or otherwise arranges the plane) then you’re good to go (with respect to your question, insurance, liability, a whole ‘nother can of worms). I had a friend who worked with somebody on their Private and Instrument in their own Cirrus. Flew with him up and down the East Coast going to vacation homes. Got put up in hotels, flew home commercial, brought the Cirrus back sometimes and went and picked them up later. Sweet gig.
    In the more typical situation where the plane is being rented from the FBO and you, as the instructor, have a relationship with that FBO then it’s starting to look a lot like transportation for hire. As usual, if you don’t get caught who’s to know, but if the FAA does get involved it’s going to be a long uncomfortable conversation and I’d bet against you coming out of with your certificate intact.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.