Flight Sharing Expands In Europe
Flight sharing via app has been stymied so far for private pilots in the U.S., but the idea has taken root in Europe in the last few years, and is continuing to grow. Rules developed by EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency) now allow GA pilots to share costs with up to five passengers. Tony Rapson, head of general aviation for Great Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, wrote in a blog post last week that pilots need to be aware of the risks. “Flying with strangers opens new potential issues ranging from security and personal safety to insurance implications,” Rapson wrote. “We at the CAA are very keen that pilots who do embrace these newfound opportunities fully understand the risks involved.” Several online services are available to connect general aviation pilots with passengers willing to share flight costs. The vendors are encouraged to sign on to a charter developed by EASA, which outlines best safety practices for flight-sharing platforms.
Wingly, one of the more popular platforms, recently raised 2 million euros to build its network and expand into new countries. “We now have around 150,000 users registered, with around 50,000 in the UK,” co-founder Emeric de Waziers told AVweb in an email this week. “We have around 10,000 pilots registered, with 3000 from the UK. We had more than 8000 passengers in flight in the last 18 months, and currently we have around 1000 passengers per month.” Wingly is organizing six fly-ins around Europe this summer, and is now operating in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There have been “no accidents or incidents,” de Waziers said. Besides Wingly, several other platforms have been operating in the EU, including BBPlane, Coavmi, and Flyt.club.
“Ultimately,” the CAA’s Rapson wrote, “the clear intention of relaxing the cost sharing rules is to allow pilots to fly more—building skills and experience—while sharing their passion for aviation with others. Providing passengers and pilots understand and stick to the rules, then that intention can become a reality.” De Waziers said the ultimate goal of flight sharing is to spark interest in aviation among the wider public, so more people will choose to become pilots. “Flying is the oldest dream of mankind,” he wrote. “We shouldn’t forget that."