AOPA Misrepresents Flight-Sharing

Let us be clear, AOPA is blocking flight-sharing. 

Answer the Question, AOPA.

AOPA claims to “have no issues with how pilots communicate” yet they directly contradict themselves by opposing the Aviation Empowerment Act which addresses a pilot’s freedom to communicate, and nothing more.  

The question remains, why does AOPA oppose the *revised* Aviation Empowerment Act?

Exact, complete, and FAA-revised bipartisan Aviation Empowerment Act below:


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).

That’s it. A clear, concise, and FAA-revised bill to make it clear that pilots can communicate publicly online to share costs. The same way we do offline on bulletin boards today.

Pilots Are Against Uber of the Skies. So Are We.

Flight-sharing gets incorrectly labeled as ‘Uber of the skies’ by non-aviators. Open communication to share flights does not create a public transportation. 

Here’s the problem with the situation today. Depending on how you meet someone, your flight-share could be legal or illegal.

Legal flight-sharing: Pilot A posts a flight to a physical bulletin board. Passenger B sees the post, calls the pilot, they go flying and each pay 50% of the costs.

Illegal flight-sharing (until bill passes): Pilot A posts a flight publicly online. Passenger B sees the post, messages the pilot, they go flying and each pay 50% of the costs.

Same plane.
Same pilot.
Same passenger.
Same cost share.
Same insurance.
Same medical certificate.
Same operation.
Same flight.

They just met differently. 

Nevertheless, AOPA suggests that the few words of our bill auto-establish ‘Uber-like companies’. That must be a misunderstanding. Is AOPA really suggesting that a pilot splitting fuel costs with friends, family, or their local residents is the same as a massive for-profit transportation provider, like Uber, American Airlines, or Delta? 

That opinion cannot possibly be supported by the largest General Aviation representative. 

“Specific risks in terms of safety… do not appear to exist” 

-European Aviation Safety Agency  

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) agrees that public communication does not impact safety. When embracing “Web Based Cost-Sharing Flights”, the EASA concluded:

Specific risks in terms of safety related to the fact that passengers are contacted through a web platform, as opposed to the aeroclub, family and friends, or in a local pub do not appear to exist for the majority view (except France). 

AOPA’s House Bill is Not a Flight-Sharing Bill

AOPA claims that section 516 of the House-passed FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4) allows flight sharing to move “forward”. That is false.

Section 516 “Requires the Secretary to issue advisory guidance on web-based cost sharing within the parameters of existing federal law." Existing federal law is that online communication is illegal. 

Without a change to the law, the AOPA-backed house bill will reinforce existing restrictions on online flight-sharing.

AOPA told us earlier this week: "Our members don't care about this issue." We need to set the record straight.

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The Beginning of the End

On Friday, December 18, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied our request to overturn the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on Flytenow and other online flight-sharing websites.

In the Opinion of the Court, Judge Pillard held that pilots sharing expenses on Flytenow were engaged in common carriage, making them the only common carriers (i.e., commercial airliners) in history to not seek a profit.

We started Flytenow over two years ago to share the joy of flying by allowing aviation enthusiasts to meet pilots and go flying together. Enthusiasts from Boston to San Francisco experienced private flight for the first time on Flytenow - some going on to obtain their pilot certificates.

The current state of the law is extremely deferential to regulatory actions, at the expense of innovation. The Court relied on that regulatory deference, and the result is less choice for consumers, and less innovation in general aviation.

Unfortunately, we are left with no choice but to shut down Flytenow. However, we are still fighting as pilots to make this happen. Our amazing legal team at The Goldwater Institute are looking into options to appeal and helped introduce a bill in Congress. Thanks to all of our supporters, mentors, and investors who helped us along the way.

- The Flytenow Team

Subscribe to this blog for future updates and help support aviation expense sharing by contacting your representatives with the following message:

Support the Sharing Economy, Support Aviation Cost and Expense Sharing Act of 2015

The sharing economy helps us as a nation to better utilize our resources, improve the way we live, and spur economic growth by harnessing technology. I believe in the sharing economy and strongly encourage you to support the Aviation Cost and Expense Sharing Act of 2015 to allow pilots to communicate with the public, in any manner the person determines appropriate, to lawfully share expenses with his or her passengers under 61.113(c) of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations. Contact the office of Congressman David Schweikert for more information.

Category: Transportation