• When compensation is exchanged for transportation, the public expects, and the regulations demand, a higher level of safety. As a general rule, private pilots may neither act as PIC of an aircraft for compensation or hire nor act as PIC of an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire
  • Carriage is one of the principle concepts of a commercial rating

Carriage Definitions:

  • Understanding carriage requires an understanding of legal definitions pertaining:
    • Charitable event: an event that raises funds for the benefit of a charitable organization recognized by the Department of the Treasury whose donors may deduct contributions under section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. Section 170)
    • Community event means an event that raises funds for the benefit of any local or community cause that is not a charitable event or non-profit event
    • Non-profit event means an event that raises funds for the benefit of a non-profit organization recognized under State or Federal law, as long as one of the organization's purposes is the promotion of aviation safety
    • Pro-Rata Share: Pro rata means to divide or share proportionately (1 pilot and 3 passengers can split cost 4 ways)
    • Common Purpose: Underlying the concept of pro-rata share is "common purpose," an unquantifiable concept that assumes the purpose of the flight is the same for all participants, such as a destination dinner, but not a pilot transporting a pilot to another

Carriage Requirements:

  • Passenger carrying flights for the benefit of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event identified in paragraph (c) of this section are not subject to the certification requirements of part 119 or the drug and alcohol testing requirements in part 120 of this chapter, provided the following conditions are satisfied and the limitations in paragraphs (c) and (d) are not exceeded:
    • The flight is nonstop and begins and ends at the same airport and is conducted within a 25-statute mile radius of that airport;
    • The flight is conducted from a public airport that is adequate for the airplane or helicopter used, or from another location the FAA approves for the operation;
    • The airplane or helicopter has a maximum of 30 seats, excluding each crew-member seat, and a maximum payload capacity of 7,500 pounds;
    • The flight is not an aerobatic or a formation flight;
    • Each airplane or helicopter holds a standard airworthiness certificate, is airworthy, and is operated in compliance with the applicable requirements of subpart E of this part;
    • Each flight is made during day VFR conditions;
    • Reimbursement of the operator of the airplane or helicopter is limited to that portion of the passenger payment for the flight that does not exceed the pro-rata cost of owning, operating, and maintaining the aircraft for that flight, which may include fuel, oil, airport expenditures, and rental fees;
    • The beneficiary of the funds raised is not in the business of transportation by air;
    • A private pilot acting as pilot in command has at least 500 hours of flight time;
    • Each flight is conducted in accordance with the safety provisions of part 136, subpart A of this chapter; and
    • Flights are not conducted over a national park, unit of a national park, or abutting tribal lands, unless the operator has secured a letter of agreement from the FAA, as specified under subpart B of part 136 of this chapter, and is operating in accordance with that agreement during the flights
  • Passenger-carrying flights or series of flights are limited to a total of four charitable events or non-profit events per year, with no event lasting more than three consecutive days
  • Passenger-carrying flights or series of flights are limited to one community event per year, with no event lasting more than three consecutive days
  • Pilots and sponsors of events described in this section are limited to no more than 4 events per calendar year
  • At least seven days before the event, each sponsor of an event described in this section must furnish to the FAA Flight Standards District Office with jurisdiction over the geographical area where the event is scheduled:
    • A signed letter detailing the name of the sponsor, the purpose of the event, the date and time of the event, the location of the event, all prior events under this section participated in by the sponsor in the current calendar year;
    • A photocopy of each pilot in command's pilot certificate, medical certificate, and logbook entries that show the pilot is current in accordance with 61.56 and 61.57 of this chapter and that any private pilot has at least 500 hours of flight time; and
    • A signed statement from each pilot that lists all prior events under this section in which the pilot has participated during the current calendar year
  • Each Operator conducting passenger-carrying flights for compensation or hire must meet the following requirements unless all flights are conducted under FAR 91.146:
    • For the purposes of this section and for drug and alcohol testing, Operator means any person conducting nonstop passenger-carrying flights in an airplane or helicopter for compensation or hire in accordance with 119.1(e)(2), 135.1(a)(5), or 121.1(d), of this chapter that begin and end at the same airport and are conducted within a 25-statute mile radius of that airport
    • An Operator must comply with the safety provisions of part 136, subpart A of this chapter, and apply for and receive a Letter of Authorization from the Flight Standards District Office nearest to its principal place of business
    • Each application for a Letter of Authorization must include the following information:
      • Name of Operator, agent, and any d/b/a (doing-business-as) under which that Operator does business;
      • Principal business address and mailing address;
      • Principal place of business (if different from business address);
      • Name of person responsible for management of the business;
      • Name of person responsible for aircraft maintenance;
      • Type of aircraft, registration number(s), and make/model/series; and
      • An Anti-drug and Alcohol Misuse Prevention Program registration
    • The Operator must register and implement its drug and alcohol testing programs in accordance with part 120 of this chapter
    • The Operator must comply with the provisions of the Letter of Authorization received

Private Carriage:

  • Carriage for hire that does not involve holding out
  • Private carriage for hire is carriage for one or several selected customers
  • The number must not be too great as to suggest a willingness to make a contract with anybody
  • Services Allowable:
    • Flight instruction
    • Nonstop sightseeing flights
    • Ferry or training flights
    • Crop dusting, seeding, spraying, bird chasing
    • Banner towing
    • Aerial photography or survey
    • Fire fighting
    • Repair work
    • Power line or pipeline patrol

Common Carriage:

  • Common carriage refers to the carriage of passengers or cargo as a result of advertising the availability of the carriage to the public
  • A carrier becomes a common carrier when it "holds itself out" to the public or a segment of the public as willing to furnish transportation within the limits of its facilities to any person who wants it
  • 18 - 24 contracts is labeled as common carriage
  • Four elements defining a "Common Carrier:"
    • A holding out or willingness to
    • Transport persons or property
    • From place to place
    • For compensation

Holding Out:

  • Holding out implies offering to the public, the carriage of persons and property for hire
  • Can be done with signs and advertising, agencies, reputation
  • A carrier holding ones self out as generally willing to carry only kinds of traffic is nevertheless a common carrier
  • Pilots must also remember, if they want to share expenses under  61.113(c), they must not "hold out" to the public or a segment of the public to expense share because that would put them into the realm of common carriage-i.e., (1) the holding out of a willingness to (2) transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation or hire. As discussed more below, common carriage changes the operating rules under which the flight must be conducted and, necessarily, triggers the higher certification and qualification requirements for pilots required by those operating rules. (See AC 120-12A)
    • A major point of emphasis to keep in mind regarding expense sharing flights is the "common purpose test". This means, that the pilot must have his or her own reason for traveling to the destination, not simply for the transportation of the passengers


  • The privileges and limitations of their certificates are separate and distinct from the operational rules required to conduct a flight, or to put it simply, pilot certification rules vs. operational rules
  • A commercial pilot or ATP must meet the qualification requirements not only of part 61 but also the part under which the operation is conducted and the operator must hold the proper operating authority. Most operations involving the carriage of persons for compensation require the operator to hold a certificate under part 119 authorizing such operations to be conducted under part 135 or 121. (See 14 C.F.R.  119.1 et seq., 135.1, and 121.1, and definitions codified at  110.2)
  • Commercial and ATP pilots should also remember that although these certificates allow them to receive compensation and operate aircraft carrying people for compensation or hire, they themselves cannot hold out the public unless they have been issued a part 119 certificate. (See Legal Interpretation from Mark Bury to Rebecca B. MacPherson (August 13, 2014))
  • The AOPA provides guidance on charitable, non-profit, and community event sight seeing flights
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