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When Can You Get Paid?

when can you get paid to be a pilot? That is the question we are going to help commercial students answer in this blog so please keep reading.


I remember training for my commercial pilot license. I had this thought that I was something pretty special in aviation with 200 hours under my belt and only 50 more to get my commercial pilot license. You hear about the great pay that pilots get and I was almost there. Then I learned about "common carriage vs private carriage." These are rules and guidelines that govern commercial aviation.


What's the Big Deal?


These laws were put in place to protect the general public that doesn't know much about aviation. Think about the general customer. They might be looking for a flight from the great city of Holland, Mi to West Palm Beach, FL. There is a guy that owns a multi engine airplane that just got his Commercial license and says "I'll take you for $2,000." That scenario is obviously not the safest for those customers. The customer doesn't fully realize that though. This type of a flight should only be conducted by a common carrier with a private charter 135 certificate or a scheduled 121 certificate. So the FAA has come up with some rules that govern this. The following link is a link to the document I am referring to.



What is Common Carriage?


A common carrier is a person or business that is willing to "hold out" to the public to offer transportation services to any person or entity that wants it.


There is a 4 part test to see if you are acting as a common carrier.


  1. Holding Out

    1. Holding out is a term that generally means advertising. This is not limited to signs and posters or online ads. This could be also a broker that might have clients that calls you to do a flight. That is also a form of Holding Out.

  2. Transporting Persons or Property

    1. This is straightforward and probably doesn't need to be defined. However, it is important to note that freight falls under this rule.

  3. Point A to Point B

    1. This means you are departing one area to deliver persons or property to another area.

    2. Departing from one area and landing in the same area does not fall into this category. This would include things such as tour flights or sightseeing flights.

  4. For Compensation

    1. There has to be something of value that is traded.


The rules go on to explain that Holding Out is not limited to the things that are mentioned above. Lets say you just get a reputation of flying everybody through word of mouth. You may be considered a common carrier because there is a willingness to transport all customers.


What is Private Carriage?

Private carriage is different in that there is no advertising or holding out of a willingness to take anybody flying for compensation. An example of private carriage is my parents would like to compensate me to take them to Florida. My personal relationship with my parents is different then that of the general public. I am not advertising this flight and I'm not willing to take anybody. Because of those things, this flight would fall under private carriage and I am safe to do this flight with no special certificates. Compensation is a huge aspect to this but lets talk a bit about value. There is value to a pilot getting flight time for free. You may be considered a common carrier even if you are not exchanging currency. You are exchanging value. You can make private contracts to fly for hire for businesses or individuals. However, the FAA realizes that this can be taken advantage of and says that a few contracts are fine but if you are contracting with many businesses or individuals that it could be violations of a willingness to fly for anybody. So the FAA gives an example and says that an individual was known to have 18-24 contracts and was classified as a common carrier because it showed a willingness to fly for anybody by providing contracts.



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