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Private Pilot, flying with employers aviation equipment and using it for testing

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FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

I am currently a student pilot working towards my PPL, and will be a private pilot in the next month or so. I work for a company that develops products that are to be used in an aircraft. There are temporary, carry on electronics.

Sometimes, I will take our products with me and use  them for personal use. This is a perk of the job.

However, I am considering the option of bringing the equipment with me during my training flights (and then my personal flights) and having the company use the data from the flight for testing and development. In my mind, there are two scenarios:


  1. I bring the system, and the company does not pay me or pay for any portion of the flight or related expenses
  2. I bring the system, and the company pays for all or part of the flights expenses


At no point would I be paid specifically for flying - it would only ever be reimbursement for the expenses.

Question: Are any of these options acceptable for a student/private pilot? Is there any scenario where I could bring the equipment and allow the company to benefit from the flight? What if the sole purpose of the flight is to test the equipment?




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2 Answers

  1. Anrboy on Jun 01, 2012

    My initial thought on this is you can do the first because you are simply trying something given to you. You definatley can not do the 2nd.
    What I THINK would be legal if would be you could invite someone from the company to ride in the backseat(they would have to be light in a 172, good weight and balance practice for you). They can bring the product with them and would be able to pay pro rata share 1/3 of the aircraft costs.
    My other thought on the subject is that the instructor is commercial rated and is the ONLY PIC since you aren’t logging PIC yet. This could mean that they could pay for the plane.
    I’m interested in other people’s responses.

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  2. Nathan Parker on Jun 01, 2012

    For a student pilot, when you’re acting as PIC, no reimbursement is possible. Relevant regulation:
    § 61.89   General limitations.(a) A student pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft:(1) That is carrying a passenger;(2) That is carrying property for compensation or hire;(3) For compensation or hire;(4) In furtherance of a business;
    When you’re with your instructor, you’re not PIC, he is.  In principle, as a commercial pilot, he can carry property for hire.  However, that’s true only as long as he’s not attempting to encroach on Part 135 operations.  By FAA letter of interpretation, that happens when the commercial pilot is providing his piloting services as well as the airplane, which the instructor would be doing, unless you own the airplane.
    For the private pilot, the relevant regulation is
    § 61.113   Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command.(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.
    So, my conclusion is there is no scenario in which your company can reimburse your costs.

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