As noted below ↓, the FAA rejected the opinion supporting the basis for Airpooler. While many reports have declared this the death of the Uber-like aircraft sharing APP, it would not be surprising to see a second iteration of this original idea.
Airpooler is an innovative idea for sharing aircraft concept. Its underlying construct depends on creative application of 14 CFR §61.113. Very much like the constructive use of the Part 91 strictures allowed an important new legal way of marketing called “fractional ownership” (i.e. multiple owners may operate under Part 91), Airpooler begins with an innovative approach to the “shared expense rule”.
It is presently permissible for a pilot to collect the pro rata costs (fuel, oil, airport expenditures or rental fees). The Airpooler APP would display an intended flight (A to B on__/__/201_) and state that there one or more seats are available. In compliance with the limitation of §61.113, the pilot would collect only the allowable expenses. The passenger would have to fly between those points on that date. That was basically the outline of the well-reasoned, well-researched letter from Airpooler’s counsel (a former Assistant Chief Counsel) requesting an opinion that the proposed operation was lawful.
The FAA’s response was a somewhat convoluted analysis which concluded NO. Here is the critical language on which the denial is based:
That FAA letter makes several other points.
While this response is disappointing for Airpooler, it would not be unexpected to see another revision and a refinement of the proposal which addresses the FAA’s critique.
The fractional ownership basis stretched the interpretation of the FARs. The broader view, it is fair to say, expanded the base of aircraft owners and sales. Equally importantly, the creative legal view did not diminish safety one iota. One might argue, with companies like NetJets, that the overall performance has increased in terms of safety.
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