s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

9 Replies

s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by John Horan on Aug 8, 2018 3:25 pm

I got an email connected to flytenow.com that claimed AOPA stands in opposition to the subject Senate bill.  Can you help me understand what issues that AOPA has with the proposed bill.  Seems like this bill is working in other parts of the world and would help to lower costs to GA ...

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by John Munn on Aug 8, 2018 6:52 pm

Hi John, 

AOPA President Mark Baker has provided insight into this issue below:

Thank you for your message regarding legislation that would allow Flytenow and others to establish Uber-like companies wherein pilots could communicate with the public about potential flights for expense sharing and compensation.
 
Let me first say that AOPA has always supported cost sharing for flights with others who have a common purpose and we have no issues with how pilots communicate.
 
We simply believe in order to facilitate this endeavor, especially given the recent court cases and legal interpretations on this matter, we must do this in a deliberate and safe manner.  As you are probably aware, Flytenow lost its related court case last year because of safety concerns and the determination by the courts that the practice amounted to commercial operations.
 
In order for this public transportation activity to be enabled, similar to other operations that transport passengers for compensation, we believe it must be done with safety parameters at the forefront, with pilot and aircraft standards in place to properly manage risk. If, however, that risk is not managed, the reaction and ramifications could do real harm to general aviation.
 
AOPA has worked collaboratively with Congress, NATA, NBAA, and others on compromise language, which is section 516 of the House-passed FAA Reauthorization bill (H.R. 4) and would allow flight sharing to move forward.  This provision received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.
 
Earlier this week, teams from AOPA, NATA, and NBAA held a conference call with Flytenow executives where again we reiterated our support for the concept of flight sharing.
 
Again, we have no issues with how pilots communicate, but safety will always be our North Star.  We remain hopeful that Flytenow will work with the industry and the FAA to see their concept of public transportation brought to fruition safely and responsibly.
 
Regards,

Mark Baker and AOPA team

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 9, 2018 11:34 am

John Horan:
Seems like this bill is working in other parts of the world  ...

It is?  First I've heard that.  Details of where and how, please?

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Mark La Gasse on Aug 10, 2018 11:26 am

As I understand it, it's simply a cost sharing NOT for Hire. I share flight cost now per the regulations. What is the difference AOPA? What measures of Safety need to be implemented that are not already working when I cost share a flight? 
It seems your response AOPA is deliberately vague. Please help me understand this because the act is a big deal to me. 

Mark

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 10, 2018 12:35 pm

Mark La Gasse:
As I understand it, it's simply a cost sharing NOT for Hire. I share flight cost now per the regulations. What is the difference AOPA?

Since someone you may not even know is paying to be flown somewhere, I don't see how you can say it's "NOT for Hire."  However, the significant difference is that between you and your buddy deciding to go together to a ball game in the next state and sharing the cost, versus you putting the word out that if anyone in the neighborhood wants to fly somewhere, you'll take them for a price.  The fact that the price is lower than a charter operator would charge them doesn't change the fact that now you're offering air transportation for a price to all comers, an operation for which the FAA wants a much higher standard of safety than what you and a pal do together.

What measures of Safety need to be implemented that are not already working when I cost share a flight? 

Read Part 135.  Then compare the safety record of Part 135 operations with those conducted in light singles by Private Pilots under Part 91.  The FAA has been directed by Congress to establish higher safety standards when money and the general public are involved than for what you do on your own with friends.  Allowing the Flytenow model (which to me is indistinguishable from on-demand charter) would eliminate those higher standards for such operations.  Sure, Congress has the authority to change the standards it imposed on the FAA, but based on the historical difference in accident and fatality rates between 135 and Part 91 light single operations, I think that would, in the long run, be bad for light GA when the public starts reading in the press about many more folks paying for flights that end badly.

I would point out that there was a time a very long time ago when the FAA didn't get excited about posting your travel plans on 3x5 card pinned up on a college student center ride board next to all the automotive offers of a ride from the big U back to the Coast for Thanksgiving or to Florida for spring break.  However, the FAA saw too many people abusing the cost-sharing exception in 61.113 to create faux charter operations, which is why they finally put the word out that this was unacceptable.  Putting all this on the internet and allowing the riders to initiate the choice of date and destination is an abuse of the intent of that exception, as well as likely to result in more public criticism of light GA, and I think AOPA is right to oppose it.

It seems to me that the only people supporting this are low-time Private Pilots looking to reduce the cost of flying, and a company which sees a way to make a profit on the transaction.  I haven't seen any groundswell of support from the general public looking for cheaper flights in light GA airplanes.  As such, it appears to be supported solely on the basis if monetary self-interest, not an issue of public demand.  That, to me, isn't sufficient justification for the concept, and I'm right behind AOPA on this issue.

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by John Horan on Aug 10, 2018 12:39 pm

Ronald Levy:

John Horan:
Seems like this bill is working in other parts of the world  ...

It is?  First I've heard that.  Details of where and how, please?

 

This is from a recent USA Today article:
Flight-sharing — think Uber for private aircraft — has already taken off in Europe. Wingly, a flight-sharing company, recently secured 2 million euros to expand its network across the continent. Its online platform enables 150,000 users to hop aboard small private aircraft operated by 10,000 licensed pilots in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 11, 2018 1:56 pm

John Horan:

Ronald Levy:

John Horan:
Seems like this bill is working in other parts of the world  ...

It is?  First I've heard that.  Details of where and how, please?

 

This is from a recent USA Today article:
Flight-sharing — think Uber for private aircraft — has already taken off in Europe. Wingly, a flight-sharing company, recently secured 2 million euros to expand its network across the continent. Its online platform enables 150,000 users to hop aboard small private aircraft operated by 10,000 licensed pilots in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

I note the Wingly says that pilots must post precise details of their flight, but many advertisements show the time/date as "flexible".  As such, it seems the EU doesn't consider "common purpose" to be an issue, allowing Private Pilots to operate essentially as a cut-rate on-demand sightseeing/charter service.  I also note that Wingly says only direct costs may be shared, but many flights advertise set prices -- clearly not a "direct cost" basis.  But without knowing how long this has been operating, or how many flights have been conducted, or whether there have been any accidents or other problems, I can't comment further.  That said, to allow this in the USA would require Congress to fundamentally change its direction to the FAA.  We'll see if that happens.

Personally, knowing the difference in accident and fatality rates between FAA-certificated carriers and private light GA Part 91 operations, the idea of this really scares me.  It's not like getting in a car -- the passengers in private aircraft haven't the knowledge or experience to be able to judge what is safe as they can in ride-hailed cars, and can't just say, "Pull over right now, I'm getting out" if they don't like what's happening.  And even here in the US, local governments are beginning to regulate ride-hailing services in the interest of safety.

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Brennan Callan on Aug 12, 2018 8:15 pm

For all of the same traditional reasons we should avoid picking up complete and utter strangers we meet on the road while driving, those problems and new ones exist when you are inviting absolutely unknown people with unknown (potential) medical issues, mental issues, criminal issues, anger issues, and countless other issues into your airplane.  For example, if you belong to a regional flying club and you meet these folks each month and you share a ride; they already know you, understand flying, understand that cross-country flights can/will have weather/medical issues, and there are FARs that must be honored/respected.  A complete stranger to aviation WILL NOT begin to understand these issues.  They won't know the countless topics that everyone learns during flight training.

I bet the insurance companies will also have a new updated fee if you start sharing with complete strangers as there are many potential problems/dangers to inviting complete strangers onto your plan.

For another example, if you welcome the passenger and they have to keep going to the restroom, this could cost so much more in rental time (Hobbs Time), landing fees, gas, overall time on the trip.  If it is a family member and you are aware of the restroom issues of either a young child or a senior family member; then you can prepare for these problems that will cause additional stress during the trip.

Yes, I can see the allure of finding someone that wants to share a ride.  The number of issues just likely will be cumbersome to finding possible passengers.

Another issue, will the TSA start having to frisk everyone?  If you frisk someone, then what happens if they felt you did something inappropriate and they sue you for "getting frisky" while frisking them.  Who needs all of these problems for a bit of cost sharing?

If any of you do have a future desire to welcome complete strangers onto your plane, then consider having a lengthy contract of the DOs and DON'Ts because you need them to do more than just create a sterile cockpit.  They need to understand that WEATHER/MECHANICAL issues happen and are outside of the pilots control.  Hence, that trip can/will be delayed.  If you don't have a contract stating that "STUFF HAPPENS" beyond your control, then I would NEVER take on welcoming strangers.

Best wishes,
Brennan

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Stephen Goetsch on Aug 13, 2018 9:06 am

Ronald Levy:

 

John Horan:

Ronald Levy:

John Horan:
Seems like this bill is working in other parts of the world  ...

It is?  First I've heard that.  Details of where and how, please?

 

This is from a recent USA Today article:
Flight-sharing — think Uber for private aircraft — has already taken off in Europe. Wingly, a flight-sharing company, recently secured 2 million euros to expand its network across the continent. Its online platform enables 150,000 users to hop aboard small private aircraft operated by 10,000 licensed pilots in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

I note the Wingly says that pilots must post precise details of their flight, but many advertisements show the time/date as "flexible".  As such, it seems the EU doesn't consider "common purpose" to be an issue, allowing Private Pilots to operate essentially as a cut-rate on-demand sightseeing/charter service.  I also note that Wingly says only direct costs may be shared, but many flights advertise set prices -- clearly not a "direct cost" basis.  But without knowing how long this has been operating, or how many flights have been conducted, or whether there have been any accidents or other problems, I can't comment further.  That said, to allow this in the USA would require Congress to fundamentally change its direction to the FAA.  We'll see if that happens.

Personally, knowing the difference in accident and fatality rates between FAA-certificated carriers and private light GA Part 91 operations, the idea of this really scares me.  It's not like getting in a car -- the passengers in private aircraft haven't the knowledge or experience to be able to judge what is safe as they can in ride-hailed cars, and can't just say, "Pull over right now, I'm getting out" if they don't like what's happening.  And even here in the US, local governments are beginning to regulate ride-hailing services in the interest of safety.

 

For what it is worth, as an FAA PPL living and flying in the UK, I agree that Wingly seems scary for all the reasons cited.  It is damn expensive to fly here (roughly twice as much as the US), but I will not participate in Wingly.  I have friends who do, but they are actually flight instructors themselves; not sure of their licensing status, as it would conform to the EU standard at any rate.  I want nothing to do with it.

As of this writing, I haven't even accepted money to share costs from my friends (although they might buy me lunch!)

Re: s 2650 Aviation Empowerment Act Opposition

Posted by Steven Johnson on Aug 28, 2018 1:01 pm

Brennan Callan:
For all of the same traditional reasons we should avoid picking up complete and utter strangers we meet on the road while driving, those problems and new ones exist when you are inviting absolutely unknown people with unknown (potential) medical issues, mental issues, criminal issues, anger issues, and countless other issues into your airplane.  For example, if you belong to a regional flying club and you meet these folks each month and you share a ride; they already know you, understand flying, understand that cross-country flights can/will have weather/medical issues, and there are FARs that must be honored/respected.  A complete stranger to aviation WILL NOT begin to understand these issues.  They won't know the countless topics that everyone learns during flight training.


This is why its a bad idea ^^^^