The FAA has essentially shut down flight-sharing systems that attempted to match pilots with passengers who wished to fly to the same destination. One such company, AirPooler, sought an FAA interpretation to ensure that its business model didn’t violate the regulations.
AirPooler voluntarily asked the FAA “for confirmation that a pilot participating in the AirPooler service is not receiving compensation in violation of 14 CFR 61.113; and a legal analysis of whether pilots participating in the AirPooler website are commercial operators who would be required to hold a certificate under 14 CFR Part 119.”
The FAA explained that flights involving shared expenses “are compensation,” and the rules simply are an exception that allows Part 91 operators to do so. However, the passenger and pilot must have a “common purpose” for traveling to the destination, other than just defraying flight costs.
Since the flights involve compensation, the FAA wrote, “By posting specific flights to the AirPooler website, a pilot participating in the AirPooler service would be holding out to transport persons or property from place to place for compensation or hire.” AirPooler CEO Steve Lewis said the decision stalls “the opportunity for private enterprise and government to work together to foster innovation in the sharing economy.”