Avionics Flow Check

Here’s my latest tip for Pilot Workshops: The Avionics Flow Check.

It’s a simple way to ensure that you’ve configured the avionics before each important phase of flight. The video below shows a before-takeoff avionics flow.

Sharing Expenses: New AC

FAA has published AC 61-142 Sharing Aircraft Operating Expenses in Accordance with 14 CFR § 61.113(c), guidance that should help pilots understand the circumstances under which they can share the direct operating costs of a flight. This AC seems largely to collect and organize previous guidance from FAA legal interpretations and court decisions (see especially the Flytenow case), making it easier to understand key concepts. The AC also provides several specific examples to illustrate how the definitions and limitations in the regulations apply to real-world scenarios.

You can download the PDF of the new AC at the FAA website, here.

First, the AC explains that:

This AC applies to pilots exercising private pilot privileges who wish to share the costs of operating an aircraft during a flight with passengers. Specifically, this AC applies to those pilots sharing expenses under part 61, § 61.113(c) and broadly applies to those pilots operating under other part 61 expense-sharing provisions, including §§ 61.101 and 61.315….As a general rule, private pilots may neither act as PIC of an aircraft for compensation or hire nor act as PIC of an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire…Section 61.113(b) through (h) contains seven exceptions to the general prohibition against private pilots acting as PIC for compensation or hire referred to in paragraph 6.1 above. This AC primarily discusses the expense-sharing exception contained in § 61.113(c), which permits a pilot to share the operating expenses of a flight with passengers provided the pilot pays at least his or her pro rata share of the operating expenses of that flight. Those operating expenses are limited to fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees. The § 61.113 exceptions also apply to ATP Certificate and Commercial Pilot Certificate holders who are exercising private pilot privileges.

Section 7 EXPENSE SHARING UNDER § 61.113(c) of the AC explains several important concepts related to the regulations. For example:

7.1 Sharing Expenses. A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided those expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees. A pilot exercising private pilot privileges who accepts any reimbursement that exceeds the pilot’s pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight would be paying less than the pilot’s pro rata share, and thus would be violating the limits of the expense-sharing provision of § 61.113(c). Additionally, § 61.113(c) permits reimbursement of expenses only from the passengers on the flight.

7.1.1 A pilot exercising private pilot privileges may share expenses with passengers within the constraints of § 61.113(c). However, the pilot cannot conduct any commercial operation under part 119 or the less stringent operating rules of part 91 (e.g., aerial work operations, crop dusting, banner towing, ferry or training flights, or other commercial operations excluded from the certification requirements of part 119).

7.1.2 Pilots must be aware that, unless an exception applies, any operation that meets all the elements of common carriage—i.e., (1) the holding out of a willingness to (2) transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation or hire—is subject to part 119 certification and must be conducted under the regulatory provisions of part 121 or 135.6. Therefore, private pilots who want to share expenses under § 61.113(c) must not “hold out” to the public or a segment of the public as being willing to furnish transportation to any person who wants it. Holding out is discussed in more detail in paragraph 10.

7.1.3 Furthermore, a private pilot cannot avoid the compensation component of common carriage by relying on the narrow expense-sharing exception to the general prohibition against private pilots acting as PIC for compensation or hire. For this reason, in assessing whether a particular operation involves common carriage, the FAA has consistently interpreted § 61.113(c) to mean that a private pilot have a common purpose with his or her passengers and to have his or her own reason for traveling to the destination.7 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed this interpretation and recognized the FAA’s “common purpose test” as a limitation on the expense-sharing provision of § 61.113(c).

Section 8 discusses the FAA’s broad interpretation of “compensation”:

8.1 Explanation of Compensation. Compensation is the receipt of anything of value that is contingent on the pilot operating the aircraft; i.e., but for the receipt of the compensation, the pilot would not have taken that flight. Compensation does not require a profit, profit motive, or the actual payment of funds. Reimbursement of expenses, accumulation of flight time, and good will in the form of expected future economic benefits can be considered compensation. Furthermore, the pilot does not have to be the party receiving the compensation; compensation occurs even if a third party receives a benefit as a result of the flight.

Section 9 discusses another key phrase, “common purpose,” and it includes several scenarios.

9.1 General. As previously stated, the FAA has consistently interpreted § 61.113(c) to mean that a private pilot have a common purpose with his or her passengers and have his or her own reason, other than the receipt of compensation for the flight, for traveling to the destination. The existence of a bona fide common purpose is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

9.2 Destination. In assessing whether a pilot is operating consistently with the expense-sharing provision, the FAA considers whether the pilot has his or her own reason for traveling to the destination. When the pilot, not the passenger, chooses the destination, it suggests that the pilot is not simply transporting passengers for compensation. The common destination satisfies the common purpose test even if the pilot and the passengers have different business to conduct at the destination. For some time, the FAA has indicated that, in order for a common purpose to exist, the pilot must have his or her own personal need to fly to that destination, i.e., his or her own particular business to conduct at the destination. Therefore, when the pilot has no particular business to conduct at the destination or the flight is only for the purpose of transporting passengers, no common purpose exists. The common purpose test can be stated as “but for the receipt of compensation, the pilot would not have taken that flight.”

In the age of the web (and with attempted startups like Flytenow), the concept of “holding out” has assumed new importance, and Section 10 of the AC provides detailed guidance and examples of scenarios that may violate the letter or spirit of the regulations:

10.1 General Discussion. It is important that private pilots who want to share expenses do not “hold out” to the public, or a segment of the public, as willing to furnish transportation to any person who wants it. When an operator meets all the elements of common carriage, he or she cannot operate under the expense-sharing exception of § 61.113(c) and, unless an exception applies, needs to hold a part 119 certificate and operate these flights under part 121 or 135. Common carriage is defined as (1) a holding out of a willingness (2) to transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation or hire. When a private pilot wants to share expenses under § 61.113(c), three of the four elements of common carriage are already met; i.e., the pilot is transporting persons or property from place to place for compensation or hire. The remaining element is whether the pilot is “holding out a willingness” to do so.

10.2 What Constitutes Holding Out? “Holding out” is accomplished by any means that communicates to the public that a transportation service is indiscriminately available to the members of that segment of the public that it is designed to attract. There is no specific rule or criteria as to how holding out is achieved. Instead, holding out is determined by assessing the available facts of a specific situation. Advertising in any form raises the question of holding out. Historically, pilots have been found to be holding out when advertising services via rolodex, brochures, newspapers, magazines, telephone directories, posters, and website/internet postings…

10.2.2 The FAA distinguishes between offering expense-sharing services to a wide audience and to a limited group because holding out to the public may suggest to unsuspecting passengers that the pilot has met the higher regulatory requirements to carry passengers. Absent this limitation on holding out, an unsuspecting passenger may unknowingly assume the safety risks of flying in aircraft flown by pilots who lack the training, experience, and operational oversight that the FAA requires of operators that conduct common carriage…

10.2.3.3.1 Websites. Given the expansive reach of the internet, the FAA would consider a posting of a flight on a website accessible to the general public, or a segment of the general public, to be holding out. In this example, the website is designed to attract a broad segment of the public interested in transportation by air. Any prospective passenger searching for flights could access the website, sign up, search for flights, and readily arrange for travel via the website. Therefore, pilots advertising flights on the website would be deemed to be holding out…

10.2.3.3.2 Social Media. Posts on social media pages are subject to the same limitations as any other form of solicitation for expense sharing. Therefore, to avoid being considered to be holding out, a pilot would need to be reaching out to a defined and limited group comprised of people with whom he or she has an ongoing, pre-existing relationship apart from expense sharing.

The Value of Upset Recovery Training

Mac McClellan recently wrote a provocative article, “Why Upset Training Just Doesn’t Work” for Air Facts, an online aviation journal. Mac was the long-time editor of Flying Magazine. His arguments against URT, however, rang hollow to me and other aerobatic pilots and instructors, and the International Aerobatic Club asked some of us to respond.

My rebuttal, “VALUE OF URT,” is on the IAC website, here. That article includes links to several incidents that support my argument, and to several videos on my YouTube channel that illustrate key points.

A video that demonstrates recoveries from inverted.

I also addressed URT in an article in the November 2017 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine: The Right Formula.

Video: KBFI to KHQM at Dusk

I made a short flight from Seattle to the Washington coast at dusk to fly an RNAV (GPS) approach at KHQM. We were between weather systems, but I enjoyed an interesting sky and a sweeping view of the Seattle area after takeoff. Notice also the wispy ground fog in the valleys and the serene scene Hoquiam at the end of the day.

Enroute to KHQM

Trim: The 5-Second Rule

Here’s a link to my first Tip of the Week for Pilot Workshops:

How to Set Pitch Trim in One Shot

I’ve previously written two Pilot Friendly® handbooks (Garmin GTN 750 and GTN 650) for Pilot Workshops, and I’m a contributor to the IFR Mastery Monthly Scenarios that the company produces.

Formation Practice

Here are clips from a recent formation practice flight out of Boulder City, NV (KBVU). I was in my Extra 300L flying as wingman to lead in his RV-6A. Lead is a fomer Air Force fighter pilot and instructor who has been my primary mentor for formation flying.

First, basic practice flying off lead’s wing.

Next, pitch-outs and rejoins.

Finally, close- and extended trail. Extended trail is a lot of fun.

A Dose of Vitamin G

I recently escaped the gray skies over Seattle and made a quick visit to Boulder City, NV to fly the Extra 300L. Here’s video of one aerobatic session, a warmup to help me reset my personal G-tolerance and practice several basic aerobatic maneuvers.