Flight-sharing site (and app) Wingly has rolled out a “complete redesign” of its website, saying it makes it “even easier for pilots to share their passion for flying with others.” Wingly said it now has more than 15,000 private pilots signed up from all over Europe plus more than 300,000 passengers in its community.
The website changes include simplifying how pilots can post flights and improving the cost calculator. This, said Wingly, “leverages our database of aircraft and flights down to the aircraft registration to define the precise cost-shared amounts. Moreover, this method significantly reduces the possibility of overstating costs, so as to ensure pilots strictly adhere to the cost-sharing regulations.”
Flight sharing has remained controversial with business aviation charter operators and associations. One particularly controversial feature had been a “flight request” page, but this feature has disappeared from the new site, Wingly confirmed. But Wingly added its disappearance had “nothing to do with ... the business aviation lobby.”
It said the flight requests “were developed as a test last summer for Version 1 and not scheduled in our Version 2 plan, for which the development had started long ago, before we initiated the flight request. The results of the tests have been quite positive and the requests fulfilled were always for leisure flights requested by passengers that pilots were already offering. We were limiting the types of flights people could request. We are now studying to see how we can improve this feature and if and when we will release it on the new version of our website and app.”
Wingly said it participated in a recent “annual meeting” with EASA and the CAA. “It was very positive; they still support what we do, as we are allowing pilots to fly more, and this increases their flying currency. This makes them safer and more experienced pilots.”
Regarding the U.S., where the FAA has effectively outlawed flight sharing, Wingly said, “There is ongoing positive work about cost-shared flights after the [recently passed] reauthorization bill and they are closely watching how [we] operate under the European cost-share regulations. They are also closely studying the work we did with EASA and the CAAs to arrive where we are today. We hope they will define similar regulations on their soil."
Paris-based Wingly told AIN that “so far, we have had 16,000 passengers in flight with no incident or accident.” They are “leisure flights…mainly being sightseeing or day excursions and subject to the pilot's discretion.” It said there is a 40-to-50 percent cancelation rate due to “weather conditions or when the pilot deems it unsafe to fly,” so pilots are, Wingly claims, not put under pressure to undertake any flight. “Moreover, we strive to educate our passengers about the particularities of light-aircraft flying. Both parties are made aware that the flights can be canceled up to the very last minute with a full refund; and the potential risks involved.”
Also, after months of testing with helicopter pilots across the UK, Wingly has now included helicopters. "Passengers can now filter their search for cost-shared flights by either helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. We hope this gives a lot of visibility to the helicopter pilots, who can also benefit from sharing the costs of their even more expensive hobby."