by Gustin Robinson, FAA CFI-I ASEL
Congratulations! You are a Private Pilot! You studied hard, flew proficiently, and passed the scary practical exam with a Designated Pilot Examiner. You earned this privilege. But, remember that the certificate is a privilege, not a right. Carrying passengers is a great burden but can also create some of the
most rewarding flights.
We are going to focus on the highly debated term that your flight instructor has hopefully introduced at some point: pro-rata share.
What is Pro-Rata Share?
Pro-rata share is defined as an equal proportion of a whole. If 5 people want to split a $50 dinner bill using pro-rata share, each person will pay $10. We will focus on subparts (a) and (c) as it relates to aviation:
14 CFR § 61.113 - Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command.
(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of
(c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.
How do we apply this for a scenario that you may face as a private pilot? You and two or your friends decide that it would be a fun weekend to rent the flight school’s Cessna 172 and fly to a neighboring state for a football game. As a private pilot, you have the OPTION to split expenses for this flight using 61.113(c).
Say the total of rental fees, fuel, a quart of oil, and ramp fees at the destination end up being $300. You, the pilot, cannot pay less than $100. You can, however, pay more. A friendly reminder: you cannot be compensated! Compensation could include anything from a free meal to a hotel room, to cold hard cash. If you are receiving something in addition to the split expenses, the FAA can consider it compensation, and could find you in violation of 61.113.
Additional Documents to Consider
The FAA also has released several Advisory Circulars and Legal Interpretations to aid pilots in their decision making regarding carrying passengers.
- AC 120-12A - Private Carriage Versus Common Carriage of Persons or Property
- AC 61-142 - Sharing Aircraft Operating Expenses in Accordance with 14 CFR § 61.113 (c)
The FAA has also set out a rule you will find in section 9 of AC 61-142. That is common purpose. In short, to exercise pro-rata share as outlined in 61.113, the pilot, as well as the occupants on board must have a common purpose to fly to this destination.
In the previously mentioned example, the pilot and their
friends all wanted to attend the football game. Common purpose was evident.
Ensure that you are ready for your next flight by understanding and researching all regulations applicable to your flight. Northstar Aviation References produces pre-tabbed FAR-AIMs that aid in finding important regulations for not only studying for a practical exam, but also keeping yourself current with the ever changing regulations.
by Gustin Robinson, FAA CFI-I ASEL
Northstar Aviation References brings you the Pre-Tabbed ASA FAR/AIM, DIY tabs for your FAR/AIM and other pilot resources so that you can more easily study the regulations that form the foundation of your flying career or hobby. Have any questions? Check out our FAQs page or contact us. Check out other blog posts here.