FAA Clamps Down On Illegal Charters

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AOPA says the FAA is cracking down on "illegal" charter, and what the agency considers against the rules might surprise you (or strike you as bizarre). "We know of crackdowns in at least two districts and that's prompted questions from members," said AOPA spokesman Woody Cahall. "They want to know what the FAA considers an illegal charter." Say, for instance, a couple of friends offer to pay the gas for a pilot to fly them in his plane. Technically, they've chartered the aircraft. Occupants of the plane are allowed to chip in for fuel and oil but only if the pilot pays an equal share. The rules get even stickier surrounding "training" flights. Simply having an instructor in the right seat does not make the flight instructional. If an inspector calls you on it, you'll have to show that the flight is appropriate for the skill level and training goals that you're working toward. For instance, a student pilot working on the cross-country phase of training would probably be allowed to pay for a flight with an instructor in another light single. But if the same flight was in a complex, high performance or twin-engine aircraft, it would be deemed a charter.