FAA Nixes GA Ride Sharing Companies

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In a legal interpretation released Aug. 13, the FAA's Chief Counsel for Regulations ruled against "peer-to-peer general aviation flight sharing" Internet-based operations that allow private pilots to offer available space on flights they intend to take. AirPooler Inc. had asked the FAA for an interpretation of the regulations—seeking to confirm that a pilot participating in the AirPooler service would not be receiving compensation as prohibited by FAR 61.113 and whether pilots participating in AirPooler are commercial operators and thus required to hold a certificate under Part 119.

The interpretation issued by the FAA disagreed with AirPooler's position and stated that arranging for flights and passengers through the AirPooler website met all elements of common carriage and are not legal under Part 91 because pilots would be "holding out" to transport persons for compensation or hire. The FAA noted that its position forbidding website-based ride sharing operations is consistent with rulings it had made previously on nationwide initiatives involving expense-sharing flights.