FAA Allows Some Young Eagles Fuel Reimbursement
The FAA says some pilots can get their fuel costs covered when flying Eagles and Young Eagles flights at EAA-sanctioned events. Last week the agency responded to EAA's 2012 petition for a wide-ranging exemption to rules that prohibit non-commercial pilots from accepting compensation for flights, other than allowing passengers to chip in up to half the fuel and other direct expenses for the flight. In the petition, EAA says that sharp increases in the cost of flying, especially fuel, resulted in a 25-percent reduction of Young Eagles flights over five years. Last year, EAA established the Eagle program to introduce adults to aviation. In its response, the FAA said private pilots flying Young Eagles and Eagles in certified aircraft can have their fuel provided (including fuel needed to ferry to and from the event) and they can also log the time (which is also considered compensation). Pilots must have at least 500 hours of total time, 200 hours in the category, 50 hours in the class and at least three takeoffs and landings in the make and model of the aircraft to be used in the volunteer flight. EAA was asking for a much wider exemption, however, and that may be reflected in its tepid response to the FAA decision.
In a brief statement on the EAA Facebook page, EAA said its government specialists were analyzing "what, if any" benefit the decision has for members. "We need to carefully analyze the FAA's response to our request and this exemption," said Brian O'Lena, manager of the Young Eagles program. "We need to be sure that the exemption, as written, provides clear benefits to all participants in the Young Eagles program." EAA asked for the exemption to apply to sport and recreational pilots and include flights in light sport and experimental aircraft, but those requests were explicitly denied by the FAA. Aviation Consumer Editor-in-Chief Rick Durden, who is a Young Eagles volunteer and also sits on the board of the Air Care Alliance, said he was pleasantly surprised by the nature and tone of the FAA decision and called the terms "quite reasonable."