What the FAA would require to charter the Super Bowl LIII plane?

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Check out the New England Patriots’ Boeing 767 private jet that flew the team to Super Bowl LIII

P125 has operational definitions

Most difficult limits are economics

Well designed LODA is critical

Mr. Kraft’s Super Bowl LIII Aircraft

The world, having seen the AirKraft ferrying the New England Patriot players to and from Super Bowl LIII, might want to experience the luxury of flying in N366AA and N39367.

Some enterprising individual figures that the B-767 would be an awesome plane to charter and sell the seats on a flight anywhere during the off season So this entrepreneur knows where the New England Patriots have their headquarters and calls to try to hire one of the planes.[1]

Mr. Kraft, as an extremely knowledgeable businessperson, knows what he does not know and that the use of his AirKraft for other than team needs requires a lawyer to assess the issues. It is highly likely that he consulted with an expert aviation lawyer when one of the planes was sent to Florida to pick up the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to ferry them to the March in Washington.










14 CFR Part 125 is ostensibly a set of operational rules for a specific class of aircraft (FSIMS Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 1):

  • Does the operator use an airplane with seating capacity (configuration) for 20 or more passenger seats or a maximum payload capacity of 6,000 pounds or more?
  • If the airplane has 20 or more passenger seats, Part 125 is applicable. However, the operator could reconfigure the airplane (remove the seats) so that it has a passenger seating capacity of 19 or less. In this situation, Part 125 would not be applicable, unless the calculated maximum payload capacity is 6,000 pounds or more.
  • Maximum payload capacity is defined in Section 125.9. If, through calculations in accordance with this definition, the maximum payload is determined to be 6,000 pounds or more, Part 125 is applicable regardless of the number of seats.

That is a relatively simple compared to the “economic” limitations[2] which are associated with flights under Part 125:

  • Noncommon carriage for hire operations are allowed, but must be reviewed carefully to verify that the operation is not common carriage. Operators are not permitted to “hold out” directly or indirectly.
  • Private Carriage operations in which persons or cargo are transported without compensation for hire, for example, private or corporate operators carrying company personnel, property and guest, including cost sharing under 14 CFR§ 501 (d), or historic (museum or collection) flight operations.
  • Operations not involving the transportation of persons or cargo.

See why Mr. Kraft consulted an aviation lawyer? There are potentially nasty civil and criminal penalties for receiving compensation for flying large aircraft without all of the necessary authorities. The Patriots’ B-767 is not the only sports plane facing this issue: [3]

A number of large airplanes, which a casual observer would expect to bear names like American, Delta, United and the other major carriers, are owned by individuals/companies. Because of their size they are required to meet a special set of rulesFAR economic/ DOT marketing limitations are applicable. Aside from some of the high profile individuals who can afford these high capital cost and high operating expense vehicles, most of the remainder are operated by special entities. Primary sources of passengers are professional and college sports teams; for that reason these flights receive unusual attention.

Recognizing that the rules and application process could use some further clarification, the FAA issued AC 125-1A Operations of Large Airplanes Subject to 14 CFR Part 125. Suffice it to say, even after reading the 76 pages, the how and why are still a bit confusing. The good news is that, after working through the labyrinth, the set of operational rules applicable to your flights is reasonable and relatively easy to comply with.

That flexibility was designed into Part 125, the Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) (14 CFR §125.3). It is a formal authorization issued by the relevant certificate-holding district office. The deviations permitted recognize the applicant’s operational uniqueness. There is as much art as there is science to drafting a request for an LODA.




The operation of large aircraft requires a high level of competence. Part 125 exists to permit qualified operators “fly this equipment with the appropriate level of safety.”These rules protect the passengers and allow rational limits on the Part 125 certificate holder.


[1] While this post will not address the quintessential “common carriage” issue, the mere prominence of the team may make it difficult to claim that there was no “holding out”. FAA has very expansive interpretations of what is allowed and prohibited.


[2] Compensation Permitted. Part 125 is applicable to large airplane operations in other than common carriage. A person is considered to be engaged in common carriage when holding out to the general public or to a segment of the public as willing to furnish transportation within the limits of its facilities to any person who wants it. Advertising 9/15/16 AC 125-1A 2-2 through telephone yellow pages, billboards, television, radio, internet Web sites, social media, and individual ticketing are examples that have been legally found to be holding out. Section 125.11(b) prohibits part 125 certificate holders from conducting any operation which results directly or indirectly from holding out to the general public. Further information regarding common carriage vs. private carriage can be found in the current edition of Advisory Circular (AC) 120-12, Private Carriage Versus Common Carriage of Persons or Property.

[3] Some of the above photographs may not be of planes subject to 14 CFR Part 125. The teams move their “flags” from operator to operator and some fully certificated common carriers, like Delta Private Jets, carry some of the teams. Also some airlines have added team logo’s to their plane livery.


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