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Wednesday, 21 April, 2021

NATA Executive Legislative Briefing: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) Bill Introduction

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) recently re-introduced legislation that would expand the ability for private pilots to receive compensation under regulations permitting pilots and passengers to share flight expenses. NATA is engaged with Senator Lee’s office to understand their objectives and ensure awareness of the potential consequences.

Each time similar legislation has been introduced, NATA has successfully communicated our members’ concerns and defeated those efforts. Most recently, during the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, NATA promoted language requiring the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the issue. NATA also endorsed language directing the FAA to promulgate clarifying guidance on what constitutes permissible flight sharing.

The FAA released this guidance in February 2021 re-stating the Agency’s analysis of 14 CFR 61.113(c), and multiple longstanding FAA legal interpretations defining the difference between narrowly-allowed sharing of flight expenses and what constitutes a for-hire operation that would require an operator’s certificate. NATA maintains that the FAA policy is clear as to how and when flight expenses can be shared, and that the practice of holding out for compensation of any kind requires an operator’s certificate.

The GAO report, also released this February, affirms NATA’s position, saying that the majority of industry stakeholders they interviewed believes the FAA’s guidance “on expense-sharing is clear and provides sufficient information.” NATA spoke extensively with GAO over the course of their review, which also found that a majority of industry stakeholders oppose flight sharing expansion schemes that legislation, like Senator Lee’s, would seek to permit. Furthermore, the GAO report highlights the FAA’s position that “private pilots flying in general aviation environments cannot meet the higher levels of safety required of air carriers,” and that the FAA has accordingly “set policies that generally limit pilots to seeking expense sharing …with [those] whom the pilot has a pre-existing relationship.” 

NATA’s discussions with key policymakers indicate that there is considerable skepticism from Congress on proposals which would enable the public to fly with someone they do not know and have no ability to objectively evaluate, and that Senator Lee’s legislation is not likely to advance.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for more than 80 years. Representing nearly 3,700 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.