Flight-Sharing Thriving in Europe, Pilot Advocacy Group AOPA Blocks U.S. Adoption

Our nation’s general aviation industry is dying and our innovation is its last hope. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines general aviation (GA) as non-scheduled aircraft operations. Most non-aviators believe that GA is simply light airplane operations, but the reality is more complex, and crucial to the future of transport. GA performs three critical functions: it serves as the cradle of future airline transport pilots, acts as a laboratory where the most advanced aircraft are built, and provides a lifestyle filled with passion and wonder that supports economies throughout the United States.

Since 1980, the cost of aviation fuel has increased over 1200%. These rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for people to enter aviation and unsurprisingly the number of certificated pilots has dropped over 30% since that time. Today, we’re facing a major pilot shortage.

A strong general aviation industry doesn’t just foster future pilots, it also supports local economies and preserves our nation's most impressive resource of integrated airports. The United States has the most airports of any country by far; 13,513, representing a third of all the airports in the world. Sadly, however, these airports are closing at alarming rates and the jobs that go with them, from restaurants, management staff, aviation services, and air traffic controllers are disappearing.

We can save GA and solve these problems by applying our new innovation to an age-old general aviation practice.

For decades, private pilots have been legally sharing their flying expenses with their passengers. For pilots, it's a crucial method of financing a passion for flying, and for passengers, it's an alternative way to reach a destination or experience flying in a private plane. To be clear, this is not “Uber for the skies” and there is no profit opportunity, rather, it’s pilots splitting the fuel costs with their passengers.

Before the advent of the internet and social media, pilots and passengers met via physical bulletin boards at local airports. Given the limited medium of cork boards, the practice was limited and sporadic. In 2013, we founded, Flytenow, an internet flight-sharing startup offering an online bulletin board to facilitate cost-sharing arrangements. By showing a pilot’s qualifications, confirming them with the FAA, and enabling both parties to connect via social media and direct messaging, we created an efficient, safe and consistent method of decreasing aircraft ownership and operating costs by up to 75%.

That was, until the FAA ruled in mid-2014 that any pilot using the internet to publicly arrange cost-sharing flights had to comply with the same regulations applicable to the airlines. With that, flight sharing in the US came to an abrupt stop, and general aviation continued its downward trend.

On the back of our initial success, companies popped up all over Europe to offer the same service and while the FAA shut down online flight sharing in the US, their European counterpart, the European Aviation Safety Agency, embraced it. Today, online flight-sharing in Europe is on track to do 60,000 flights per year and has been so successful they have even expanded it to allow more types of aircrafts. Watching our idea thrive elsewhere instead of the birthplace of aviation is one of the hardest things we’ve had to endure as pilots and entrepreneurs.

So, we committed to working with Congress to pass legislation with a simple guiding principle: a pilot should be able to communicate to an audience of any size via any method he or she chooses to share a flight, so long as it is not for profit.

Now, thanks to the powerful efforts of Sen. Mike Lee and other members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans support the revised Aviation Empowerment Act, in which the FAA reviewed and proposed language consistent with our guiding principle and allows for Internet-based expense sharing.

In the midst of a key Senate Committee considering this language, our very own Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) intervened against it. AOPA is a non-profit organization founded 78 years ago with the purported goal of preserving a pilot’s freedom to fly and representing GA interests. Yet, AOPA’s stated vision of preserving pilot freedoms and fighting to keep General Aviation accessible to all stands in direct contradiction to its actions regarding the revised Aviation Empowerment Act, and, indeed, the commitment AOPA makes to all of its members.

AOPA’s opposition to this measure is baffling, as it is undeniably pro-General Aviation. Among other things, it:

  • Decreases the cost of aircraft ownership.
  • Promotes safety by allowing pilots to keep their skills current.
  • Stimulates economies at regional airports and FBOs.
  • Brings the U.S. in line with the European Aviation Safety Agency, who embraced flight sharing years ago.

It is difficult to speculate regarding AOPA’s motives, but one thing is resoundingly clear: AOPA is siding with business aviation industry lobbyists, ignoring the interests of their own members, and departing from Europe’s general aviation success story.

We also understand that despite this incredibly important issue for General Aviation, AOPA has refused to survey its membership to determine whether they support flight sharing. Thus it seems clear that AOPA is ignoring the pilot members it exists to support, in favor of the shortsighted views of a few members of its management team.

The rest of the world is either moving in the direction of freedom for pilots or has already done so, but AOPA is stifling this innovation in the birthplace of aviation.

We are committed to the passage of the revised Aviation Empowerment Act and we need your help in mobilizing support for the bill.

Call AOPA: 1 (800) 872-2672
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S. 2650. AVIATION EMPOWERMENT ACT. (revised)

The Administrator shall permit a person who holds a pilot certificate to communicate with the public, in any manner the person determines appropriate, to facilitate an aircraft flight for which the pilot and passengers share aircraft operating expenses in accordance with section 61.113(c) of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation) without requiring a certificate under part 119 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation).
Press: press@flytenow.com
21 responses
This may be a safety/insurance issue. Perhaps if you make a requirement for the pilot to hold a commercial/instrument certificate, the FAA will consider it.
Legal Scenario: Pilot A posts a flight to a physical bulletin board. Passenger A sees the post, calls the pilot, they go flying and share the costs. Illegal Scenario (unless the bill passes): Pilot B posts a flight to Flytenow publicly. Passenger B sees the post, messages the pilot, they go flying and share the costs. Same plane, same pilot, same passenger, same cost share, same insurance, same operation. They just met differently.
I'm all for this! How can I help?
I'm all for this!
Is there any way to facilitate an online petition or make this easier for all of us to productively add our voice to the chorus demanding passage of your recommended Aviation Empowerment Act? Mark On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 8:00:16 AM CDT, Posthaven Posts wrote: -- Reply above this line to comment on this post --Alan Guichard createda new post on blog.flytenow.com: Flight-Sharing Thriving in Europe, Pilot Advocacy Group AOPA Blocks U.S. Adoption Our nation’s general aviation industry is dying and our innovation is its last hope. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines general aviation (GA) as non-scheduled aircraft operations. Most non-aviators believe that GA is simply light airplane operations, but the reality is more complex, and crucial to the future of transport. GA performs three critical functions: it serves as the cradle of future airline transport pilots, acts as a laboratory where the most advanced aircraft are built, and provides a lifestyle filled with passion and wonder that supports economies throughout the United States. Since 1980, the cost of aviation fuel has increased over 1200%. These rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for people to enter aviation and unsurprisingly the number of certificated pilots has dropped over 30% since that time. Today, we’re facing a major pilot shortage. A strong general aviation industry doesn’t just foster future pilots, it also supports local economies and preserves our nation's most impressive resource of integrated airports. The United States has the most airports of any country by far; 13,513, representing a third of all the airports in the world. Sadly, however, these airports are closing at alarming rates and the jobs that go with them, from restaurants, management staff, aviation services, and air traffic controllers are disappearing. We can save GA and solve these problems by applying our new innovation to an age-old general aviation practice. For decades, private pilots have been legally sharing their flying expenses with their passengers. For pilots, it's a crucial method of financing a passion for flying, and for passengers, it's an alternative way to reach a destination or experience flying in a private plane. To be clear, this is not “Uber for the skies” and there is no profit opportunity, rather, it’s pilots splitting the fuel costs with their passengers. Before the advent of the internet and social media, pilots and passengers met via physical bulletin boards at local airports. Given the limited medium of cork boards, the practice was limited and sporadic. In 2013, we founded, Flytenow, an internet flight-sharing startup offering an online bulletin board to facilitate cost-sharing arrangements. By showing a pilot’s qualifications, confirming them with the FAA, and enabling both parties to connect via social media and direct messaging, we created an efficient, safe and consistent method of decreasing aircraft ownership and operating costs by up to 75%. That was, until the FAA ruled in mid-2014 that any pilot using the internet to publicly arrange cost-sharing flights had to comply with the same regulations applicable to the airlines. With that, flight sharing in the US came to an abrupt stop, and general aviation continued its downward trend. On the back of our initial success, companies popped up all over Europe to offer the same service and while the FAA shut down online flight sharing in the US, their European counterpart, the European Aviation Safety Agency, embraced it. Today, online flight-sharing in Europe is on track to do 60,000 flights per year and has been so successful they have even expanded it to allow more types of aircrafts. Watching our idea thrive elsewhere instead of the birthplace of aviation is one of the hardest things we’ve had to endure as pilots and entrepreneurs. So, we committed to working with Congress to pass legislation with a simple guiding principle: a pilot should be able to communicate to an audience of any size via any method he or she chooses to share a flight, so long as it is not for profit. Now, thanks to the powerful efforts of Sen. Mike Lee and other members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans support the revised Aviation Empowerment Act, in which the FAA reviewed and proposed language consistent with our guiding principle and allows for Internet-based expense sharing. In the midst of a key Senate Committee considering this language, our very own Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) intervened against it. AOPA is a non-profit organization founded 78 years ago with the purported goal of preserving a pilot’s freedom to fly and representing GA interests. Yet, AOPA’s stated vision of preserving pilot freedoms and fighting to keep General Aviation accessible to all stands in direct contradiction to its actions regarding the revised Aviation Empowerment Act, and, indeed, the commitment AOPA makes to all of its members. AOPA’s opposition to this measure is baffling, as it is undeniably pro-General Aviation. Among other things, it: - Decreases the cost of aircraft ownership. - Promotes safety by allowing pilots to keep their skills current. - Stimulates economies at regional airports and FBOs. - Brings the U.S. in line with the European Aviation Safety Agency, who embraced flight sharing years ago. It is difficult to speculate regarding AOPA’s motives, but one thing is resoundingly clear: AOPA is siding with business aviation industry lobbyists, ignoring the interests of their own members, and departing from Europe’s general aviation success story. We also understand that despite this incredibly important issue for General Aviation, AOPA has refused to survey its membership to determine whether they support flight sharing. Thus it seems clear that AOPA is ignoring the pilot members it exists to support, in favor of the shortsighted views of a few members of its management team. The rest of the world is either moving in the direction of freedom for pilots or has already done so, but AOPA is stifling this innovation in the birthplace of aviation. We are committed to the passage of the revised Aviation Empowerment Act and we need your help in mobilizing support for the bill. S. 2650. AVIATION EMPOWERMENT ACT. (revised) The Administrator shall permit a person who holds a pilot certificate to communicate with the public, in any manner the person determines appropriate, to facilitate an aircraft flight for which the pilot and passengers share aircraft operating expenses in accordance with section 61.113(c) of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation) without requiring a certificate under part 119 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation). Press: press@flytenow.com View the post and reply » Unsubscribe from new posts on this site Change your Posthaven email settings
All my experience in aviation was Part 91 operations. I fulfilled an early desire to fly with the G.I. Bill assistance. I think the biggest problem with aviation in general is the predominant incompetent feds in FAA operations. Not all but a significant, crippling number are wannabes with mediocre skills and limited abilities who found a secure home with a stable paycheck. I think, too, they love lording it over everyone they contact. AOPA always struck me as one of two organizations dedicated to preserving the interests of General Aviation. The EAA has fought valiantly in this manner doing things like jumping through years of FAA hoops to get auto gas approved. My opinion is that AOPA has gotten into bed with the feds that they think like feds and have developed the "us-them" mentality so destructive to any progress. I am totally out of aviation and have been since 1994 when I finally got tired of feds, aircraft owners and limited skill GA A&P mechanics. It was time to move on. Good luck convincing the AOPA of anything.
Indeed way over-regulated. My full support. However here in Europe, general aviation is far from perfect. Biggest obstacle is the price of Avgas. It is crazy expensive, with no logical reason.
I actually tried the flight sharing site in Europe. It felt really safe and straight forward since I was able to know everything about the pilot and make my choice on who to fly with. Without an online profile and ratings, I have no idea who I am flying with in my same school.
Please update the blog to show the instructions near the top of the long e-mail. Something like, "Please e-mail the AOPA at the following address {link here} "Revised Aviation Empowerment Act MUST be passed !!". And while you're at it, please also try to get an article or short blurb in Flying Magazine.
General aviation is so expensive over there. Good to here you are making it more affordable, to enjoy the experience. In the USA we are being regulated, which is needed in most cases. We do have a very valuable industry here. But a willing person, just wanting to enjoy the experience of General Aviation and willing to share expenses, I can’t see what’s wrong with that. Besides, we need airline pilots/A&P’s/ experanced Aviators to fly charitable missions. To do this, they need flying experience. Yes the pilot gets the benefit of building Flight time. What’s wrong with that?
I am in favor of flight sharing. To do Otherwise is an infringement on my freedoms.
Offer flight share!
Post does not include AOPA's 'treason's for its objection other than suspected collusion with what is mostly smaller craft flight services. It should have been dug out and included. Suggest that be done and conveyed in future post.
My apologies for failure to edit FB's magical auto-'correction' programming. AOPA certainly is not treasonous.
Sounds great for the pilots and people needing to fly.MY daughter is entering the new pilot classes and next will be private so this is great news to help reach her goal of being a plane owner and make a great living
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