Many pilots believe that they can easily avoid the compensation or hire restrictions of the regulations by making other arrangements. e FAA, however, interprets “compensation” very broadly. For example, the FAA has long held that logging ight time for the conduct of a ight is compensation. Most of us, and especially those of us seeking that coveted left seat at a major air carrier, know how valuable ight time can be. So, if someone requests that you use your superior piloting skills to take them to that resort of their choice and you decline any monetary payment, but still log that ight time while not paying the costs of operating the aircraft, you’ve received compensation.
Goodwill obtained from providing a ight has also been determined to be compensation. Everyone knows how valuable a favorable news article or celebrity endorsement can be. Bartering can be considered compensation, too. You may want to think twice before you take someone ying in exchange for spending a weekend at their beach house.
A pilot may also be considered to be conducting a ight for compensation even if someone else receives the compensation for the ight. How would you like to be cited with a violation of the compensation or hire provisions of the regulations and not even receive any payment? Pilots should also be aware that not only will the FAA be unhappy if you conduct a commercial operation without an operating certicate, but if you are involved in an accident or an incident, your insurance company
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might be able to deny coverage for any claims made against your policy. at’s never a good result of trying to get paid to y.
If delving this deeply into the regulations makes your eyes glaze over, you may want to check out FAA’s Web site or call your local FSDO inspector if you have any questions. Importantly, since there are so many variations on the issue of ying for compensation or hire, this article is not a formal legal opinion from the FAA (apologies to all you hangar lawyers). You can, however, search the FAA’s legal interpretations in this area at: http://www.faa. gov/about/oce_org/headquarters_oces/agc/ pol_adjudication/agc200/Interpretations/.
If you still have a question about how the regulations apply to your specic situation, you can make a formal request to the Regulations Division in the FAA’s Oce of the Chief Counsel in Washington, DC, for a legal opinion. Again, the caution is “be careful” if you’re going to accept anything for your ying.
Flying and getting paid for it has been a dream that most pilots have had at one time or another. It’s been done by generations of pilots, but it’s also an area ripe with opportunities for new (and even older) pilots to run afoul of the regulations. In short, before you hang out that “Will Fly for Food” sign please make sure you know the rules.
Paul Greer is an attorney in the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel. He holds com- mercial pilot and flight instructor certificates. He rarely flies for compensation.
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