The controversial FAA reauthorization bill now being debated in Congress includes a provision that would allow private pilots to use the Internet to connect with people who want to share the costs of a flight. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), could upend FAA rules that prohibit flight-sharing websites like Flytenow.com.
Flytenow took the FAA to federal court to clarify flight-sharing rules, arguing that its website was no different than a bulletin board at a local airport where pilots might post notices about upcoming trips to places like Oshkosh or Sun ‘n Fun.
A federal judge sided with the FAA that using the Internet to advertise flight to general public constitutes “holding out” for commercial air services, which is prohibited by federal aviation regulations.
The proposed legislation would clarify that private pilots are free to communicate with their passengers using any form of communication they desire in order to facilitate flight sharing.
The full House will likely take up the bill, which also proposes privatizing ATC, next month.