updated 10:41 am EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Online flight arrangements between private pilots, passengers blocked by FAA
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has stopped the flying equivalent of Uber from taking place, in a ruling over plane sharing costs. After a request for clarification from AirPooler, a flight-sharing start-up, the FAA ruled that private pilots could not use online services or mobile apps to offer seats on their aircraft in exchange for fuel costs.
The ruling claims the site bends regulations meant to allow for private pilots to share the cost of fuel, equipment rental, and other transport costs on a pro rata basis. According to TechCrunch, the ruling claims pilots listing flights on AirPooler are "holding out to the public to transport passengers for compensation in the form of a reduction of the operating expenses they would have paid for the flight," namely paying for flights as if it was an airline.
While the FAA's ruled this practice is outside the spirit of the regulation, it does not stop private pilots from offering to split costs with others face-to-face, bulletin boards or through some other direct-contact method.
AirPooler is looking to clarify the ruling further, as it is apparently based on a draft proposal for plane-sharing legislation in 1963 instead of regulation in 1964. AirPooler CEO Steve Lewis told the report that the FAA's decision is confusing, and "it's also stalling the opportunity for private enterprise and government to work together to foster innovation in the sharing economy."