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

38 responses
We are with you! The FAA is wrong!
Hope this gets turned around in the near future.
Why is carpooling legal, but plane-pooling is not? This is sheer stupidity on the part of the FAA! I wrote to my representatives, and I hope everyone else reading this does too!
How about saying the ride is free but passengers could give a gift to the pilot?
More government interference in our lives.
Free market? As a pilot without my own aircraft, plane-pooling is a wonderful alternative. What are the specific safety concerns of the FAA? Who are the entrenched special interests conniving behind the scenes on this deeply flawed decision by Judge Cornelia Pillard?
Why hv a regulation if we cant use it?... Keep up the fight..
ha ha, you guys suck. pwnj.
The FAA was 100% right in their ruling and I'm glad the court saw that. Flytenow shutting will undoubtedly save the lives of inexperienced pilots and innocent passengers.
@Phil “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ― C.S. Lewis
You fought well. All the best for the future !
Hogwash. Keep the site up and running. If I tell you I'm taking a flight and you come along..illegal! If I don't tell you that I'm taking flight and you come!
Lol @ everyone here that thought this was a "let people enjoy flight" experience, and not a "we want to make money" venture.
Such a shame that the regulatory bodies have set such arbitrary rules. I imagine that relaxation of these archaic laws is only a matter of time!
Abeon, The volumes thick CFR would suggest orherwise. Americans love to espouse the virtues of Freedom and Liberty, so long as it is they who get to decide to whom, and to what measure those freedoms and Liberty apply. Make no mistake; you must be coddled, cajoled, threatened, and suppressed, lest you start to believe that you have certain enaliable rights and not rights derived from the state.
Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to get an FAA Final Order overturned. You may want to appeal to the FAA and pose the question: If Flytenow refrains from using the internet, or any other form of advertising, can we operate?
Fortunately the FAA is correct here. I fail to see what others are missing. Read the court's opinion. They make it very clear that Flytenow is very much in violation of the FARs. No grey area here.
Clear? How's this for clear: “The number of contracts must not be too great, otherwise it implies a willingness to make a contract with anybody.” Just what number is "too great"? Simply put, this ruling puts every PP in jeopardy if he/she carries a passenger for any reason. Wanna take a fishing trip with your buddies? Sure, so long as you do not in any way communicate the details of the flight before the flight. Any communicated details such as departure time, destination or time of arrival, you're now a commercial carrier. Wanna take a new coworker up for a sightseeing tour? Sorry, you've just advertised your services as a common carrier.
I recently became interested in the same idea you had. I'm so glad to know that you have already attempted to make a change! It is bitter sweet to be a part of the pioneering going on here. I have contacted my representatives (CA) and am crossing my fingers! Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help with this.
Are you really telling us your VC investors didn't expect you to make a profit?
I've read the ruling and... you don't have to shutdown. You just need to pivot. Pilots could use your service to inform their friends about their upcoming trips on Facebook and they'd post a direct link to travel info at FlyteNow. Obviously, FlyteNow main website itself must not have any option to search for flights. FlyteNow website would be used to onboard new pilots only. It's probably not the best way to build a big business but you can at least survive until a better legislation is enacted.
Have you or your counsel solicited the help of any private pilot associations or legal professors in aviation law to submit amicus briefs? Would that help persuade the Court to rehear the case?
As long as a PP stays out of 'controlled' airspace, maintains 'VFR' and does not charge a 'fare', I fail to see anything 'wrong' with it. Just another encroachment of government hypocrisy a erosion of our 'freedom's'.
This is a real bummer (I actually had a similar idea recently) leave it to the FAA to shutdown something that doesn't break any laws. Makes you wonder if they ever read the FARs? Sorry for you guys having to fight this. Sorry for the aviation community losing a great resource. Sorry for all those who missed out on seeing GA first hand and up close. Best of Luck. I'm sure you have, but have you spoken with AOPA about this, seems like something they would get behind.
Travis Kalanick founded Uber knowing that he was working with in a gray area. As a tech founder myself I found often found us working in the gray area in regards to the interpretation of laws such as "common comparison". As a capitalist I never thought I would blame big business for buying out government decisions but it sure appears that major carriers have paid for this one. TO THE FOUNDERS- DO NOT GIVE UP. It takes people like us to change the world. I know both people and pilots that want this service. Reopen the site and let them post. Unless I missed something, I did not hear anything about YOU breaking any laws. If the private pilot chooses to break the law and the passenger understands their risk, then let it happen. I know your investors are coming down on you saying "Without it being legal we don't have a market." Well F* them! Let the market decide if their is a market. This is America for crying out loud. If enough people want it, the officials that were voted in will quickly change their minds. Married men already know that it is often easier to as for forgiveness than it is for permission.
Best of luck. Keep us posted. I'm sure the gov claimed Edison was producing an illegal fire when he first came up with the lightbulb....
I got my Private Pilot certificate in 1956 and flew actively for 22 years (ASEMEL,Inst.Airplane) The FAA rules for private pilots carrying passengers for expense sharing NEVER said anything about advertising for passengers or restricted it in any way. It was never an issue. The vehicle transportation code in every State applies to vehicles used for hire or financial gain and SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES citizens using their own mode of movement (horse, mule, gasoline powered conveyance) and thus creates a well defined statutory wall between the two. The SCOTUS cannot, on impulse, now declare that the statutes written for commercial users must apply to private citizens regardless of the fact that both use public highways. The FAA ruling is patently, leagally WRONG and should be challenged as such.
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