In response to a directive from the FAA Reauthorisation Act of 2018, NATA has welcomed an advisory circular (AC) released by the FAA this week clarifying acceptable sharing of flight expenses. As expected, the AC affirms the longstanding precedent and policy from the FAA: holding out to the general public, including through the use of a website or app, without an operator's certificate, is prohibited. The legislation requiring the publication of this guidance was the result of a provision supported by NATA to give pilots better clarity on permissible flight sharing scenarios, and also required a yet to be released study by the Government Accountability Office for which NATA was extensively interviewed.
“The FAA outlines specific scenarios to demonstrate what is and is not permissible. We expect that pilots will find this useful in understanding the concepts of holding out and common carriage. NATA hopes this enables pilots to make better decisions in this area to avoid enforcement actions that would jeopardise their future ability to fly,” states NATA president and CEO Timothy Obitts. “This is another great example of the FAA working in concert with the industry to educate owners and pilots, and help put an end to uncertified charter operations.”
In the new AC, the FAA confirmed that using internet-based platforms like social media, websites or apps to advertise flights constitutes 'holding out' and is therefore prohibited. Private pilots, however, are still able to share specific costs of the flight only if the non-flying party pays no less than the pro rata share. In reaffirming that stipulation, however, the FAA reminded pilots that examples of this type of pro rata flight sharing is an extremely narrow exemption carved out for limited circumstances, including a bona fide common purpose. NATA encourages pilots to review the advisory circular.