The FAA Says You Can't Share Your Airplane

The sharing economy runs into some trouble taking to the skies.

Ah, the sharing economy. You can share rides to the office. You can share apartments. You can even share boats. What you can't share, though, is your airplane, should you be lucky enough to own one.

TechCrunch reports that, per an FAA ruling released today, the new rules prohibit pilots "from publicly offering seats on their planes in exchange for gas money." This will affect startups like Flytenow (which matches people who want to fly small with pilots) and Airpooler (a company that describes itself as the Lyft of private planes).

The FAA addressed its statement to Airpooler, which requested legal clarification from the agency last month on whether it is running a legitimate business.



Why draw the line at private planes? The FAA says transporting passengers in exchange for fuel qualifies as being compensated for airfare, even if the pilot chooses the destination she wants to fly to. The language seems to suggest that because Airpooler pilots can list flights on the company's website (and wait until there is a demand), it's akin to allowing customers to buy their flight the old fashioned way--commercially.

Read the rest of the FAA's decision at TechCrunch
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[Image: Flickr user Rocking Cars]

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10 Comments

  • Larry Patrick Conkright Ripley

    Once again our government shows how completely stupid it is....and why we are being regulated to death. For goodness sake.....if I am dumb enough to get into a plane with a pilot who is not licensed as a commercial pilot and give him a couple of bills for gas that is my damn business. One wonders why more and more folks are simply moving out of the country and leaving their passport at the border.

  • Joe Ebert

    This has always been a no-no with the FAA. "Holding out" is not a privilege that Private Pilots have. There's nothing new here.

    If one wants to offer transportation in an airplane, one needs to be a Commercial Pilot, meeting much stricter performance and experience requirements. Advertising for that transportation also requires a higher level of aircraft inspection and higher standards, as it should be.

    As Rod Rakic says correctly, flights cannot be shared with strangers. But when I had an airplane, I shared it with fellow pilots who didn't.

  • So I guess I can't car pool with anyone and ask to share gas either. If people want to get into the car with strangers then they should also be able to get into a plane with strangers as well. If it gets them there in one piece so be it. What ever happened to shopping for the best price? If flying privately becomes cheaper than commercially shouldn't we have that option to save?

  • Al Sanwick

    the license for your car is state regulated not federal and normally you are not carpooling across state lines

  • allnonsense2

    I don't believe boats can be shared in the manner you are talking about. The coast guard clearly states no compensation may be taken from passengers unless you are licensed to carry them. This includes chipping in for gas or beer.

  • The headline is misleading. The FAA did not rule that you can't share your airplane. You can't share your FLIGHT, with strangers.

    Planesharing really should be called flightsharing, just like ridesharing is different than carsharing.

    I'm the co-founder at OpenAirplane. We help aircraft owners to rent their planes to well qualified pilots. That is 100% legal.

    It's important to understand that the FAA ruling doesn't make the existing rules any more restrictive.

    You'll find my post, "Sometimes Regulations Are Written In Blood" here: https://medium.com/@rodrakic/sometimes-regulations-are-written-in-blood-caf33a731dbc

    The argument against planesharing isn't easy to dismiss. Balancing private privileges with public safety is going to be an ongoing debate, but for now, the question is settled under current regulation.

  • This new peer to peer commerce is here to stay. This is just stalling the ability for the government to work together with the private sector. Eventually this market will become to big that the government will have to play nice.

  • Jasamine Molly

    You are not allowed to use the words play fair in the same sentence as government.

  • David Fillmore

    Love how we can make up laws as we go... Pro Rata share was an acceptable method for allowing some compensation for a person's seat in the plane he was flying on.. has been around for decades. Now that mobile and social media can help those who want to defer costs by ride sharing are inhibited because the FAA is focusing in on 'Illegal' charters. This agency is so backasswards. They need to refocus their attention on real issues within aviation and not trying to crush the small aviator who is playing by the rules; rules that the agency set up in the first place.

    David Falcon 50 Pilot

  • Joe Ebert

    Pro Rata share is still acceptable, David. It's also not considered compensation, but cost-sharing. Advertising for pax in order to share costs is what the FAA says is not acceptable.

    But I do agree with you..the biggest threat to General Aviation is the FAA. Onerous NextGen deadlines don't help.