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7 Answers

Flying for hours rather than money using PPL

Asked by: 2386 views , , ,
FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation

I would like to know if when i obtain my PPL can i fly people's plane for them to gain hours in lieu of them paying me money?Or is that the same thing? I ask because I would like to eventually fly people for money with a CPL but want a way to get my hours up but keep the expense down. What is the best way to do so. 

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7 Answers

  1. Kris Kortokrax on Dec 20, 2012

    You stated that you would fly other people’s airplanes to gain hours. If they let you borrow their airplane to go fly and don’t charge you, you can probably do that. If they let you fly with them (assuming they are rated) and they let you manipulate the controls, that would probably be OK. If you fly them in an airplane that they own and they are not rated to fly the plane, I don’t think the FAA would allow that.

    The FAA considers the accrual of flight time to be compensation. See the Harrington Legal Interpretation issued October 23, 1997.

    Link is


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  2. Mark Kolber on Dec 20, 2012

    I think the problem is even worse than the “flight time is considered compensation” principle Kris correctly describes. The key is that you said, “can i fly people’s plane =for them= to gain hours =in lieu of them paying me money=.

    You’ve succinctly described a straight barter. You give them pilot services; in addition to flight time, you get free use of an airplane you’d otherwise have to pay for in return. What lawyers who like Latin refer to as a “quid pro quo” (this for that).

    Unfortunately, generally speaking, I think this is an arrangement the FAA would have no difficulty in describing as flight for compensation, prohibited with your private certificate.

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  3. Tim richie on Dec 20, 2012

    Thank you guys. I’m just trying figure all the rules out. So what if I fly right seat with a guy in let’s say a cesna that I’m rated for. He’s getting money for the flight but doesnt pay me a dime but lets me tag along. Can I fly with him and gain hours our would that be considered what we described above. Not trying to do anything dirty just trying figure out the “for instance”.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Dec 20, 2012

    >>He’s getting money for the flight

    How come he’s getting money for the flight? It’s an important question.If he’s getting money for the flight because it’s a small 135 operation (carrying a person or someone’s property for hire) then, as discussed in another question, a pilot who has not been qualified under those rules is not permitted to handle the controls. Otherwise, while there may be restrictions that apply in certain situations, generally it’s not a problem.

    The rules in this area are unfortunately complicated. Arguably, it’s necessary since twin goals of the goals of the FAA are (a) to make sure that pilots for hire meet extra qualifications and (b) to protect the investment the pilots (and companies) made to meet those qualifications.

    But if you keep those two goals in mind, there are generally two questions you can ask yourself for guidance:

    1. Is there some kind of exchange – are you providing a service in exchange for something of value? “Letting you fly” really only benefits you; the other pilot isn’t getting something of value back.

    2. Does it quack like a duck? In this case, the “duck” is a flight that one would ordinarily expect to see someone being paid for (like your first example).

    If you can honestly say “no” to both of those, you will usually be ok.

    If, OTOH, you say to yourself, “yes, but if I do it =this= way, i can get around it,” you’re likely in the wrong.

    As a private pilot, your safest bet is to not accept something of value in exchange for piloting or to stay within the “compensation is ok” exception to the no-compensation rule in 61.113, like sharing expenses to a location you were going to anyway (what the FAA refers to as a “joint venture for a common purpose.”.

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  5. Tim richie on Dec 20, 2012

    Such as an air taxi type service. Again just a for instance. I understand the rule now. Thanks for the insight.

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  6. Mark Kolber on Dec 21, 2012

    Exactly. It won’t answer every question but if it’s a paradigm that helps make sense of these rules and the sometimes strange interpretations the FAA makes of them, glad I could contribute.

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  7. Collin Hughes on Dec 30, 2012

    There are two things to look at in this situation. The first is compensation and the second is pro rata. The use of someone else’s aircraft could be seen as compensation unless you are paying at least your pro rata share of the operating costs of the airplane. If you are the sole occupant of the airplane then your pro rata would be 100% of the operating costs. Additionally, fuel is not the only operating cost of an airplane.

    The only way you can log time sitting right seat in an airplane type certificated for one pilot is if there is a regulatory reason for you to be there. One of the most common reasons for this is if you are acting as a safety pilot while the other person is under the hood.

    As mentioned earlier, if you are flying with someone on a Part 135 flight you are by no means allowed to operate the controls. It may even be against the company policies for you to be there.

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