There are hundreds of thousands of licensed private pilots in the U.S., so why not enlist them to create an on-call air travel ride-sharing service just like Uber does with cars?
Sounds like a great idea, and a Boston company called Flytenow decided to try it. And now it’s going out of business. The concept was blocked by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year, and that decision has now been upheld by a federal appeals court, effectively putting an end to the experiment.
The problem? The FAA said that because it solicits passengers from the public, such a company would be a common carrier, meaning that participating aviators would have to hold a commercial pilot’s license, just like airline pilots do.
Flytenow had argued that the individuals looking to book flights were “aviation enthusiasts,” and any transaction between them and the pilots would simply be a sharing of expenses, which is allowed for private pilots.
But the FAA and the court didn’t agree. “In the Opinion of the Court, Judge Pillard held that pilots sharing expenses on Flytenow were engaged in common carriage, making them the only common carriers (i.e., commercial airliners) in history to not seek a profit,” Flytenow said on a blog. The company’s website has been taken down.
The company said its lawyers are looking into possible avenues of appeal, but for now “we are left with no choice but to shut down Flytenow.”
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: Delta free upgrades disappearing + Shipping vs. checking a bag +_San Francisco’s new long-haul routes + Is Newark our worst airport? + Delta, United forge new international partnerships