Cost sharing flights are flights shared by private individuals. The 'cost-shared' part is in reference to the costs of the specific flight which can be shared only between the pilot and others onboard the aircraft. These costs are the 'direct costs' which are the costs directly incurred in relation to a specific flight (e.g. fuel, airfield charges, rental fee for an aircraft). There can be no element of profit for the pilot as these flights are not commercial, and if profit is suspected then the flight might be operating outside of the regulations and therefore be illegal. The pilot must pay a contribution to these direct costs.
The safety and conduct of any flight including cost-shared flights it the responsibility of the pilot in command of the aircraft. The pilot must conduct the flight in accordance with the applicable regulation for non-commercial flights with light aircraft by private pilots. It is also the pilot’s responsibility to ensure the flight is appropriately insured, although passengers may want to check that any personal life, accident and/or health insurance they have is valid for non-commercial flights.
Passengers should be made aware that the pilot may amend or cancel the flight for any reason, including at short notice and that the proportion of the costs must be shared by the pilot. If the flight does not take place, then no remuneration (money or exchange of gifts) should be exchanged between the pilot and passengers.
Passengers are not taking part in a commercial flight but in a leisure flight with a private pilot. The pilot has a duty not to undertake flight if the conditions are not suitable.
Where cost shared flights are arranged through online platforms the CAA recommends the use of only websites that have signed up to the European Aviation Safety Agency “Charter to promote the safety of non-commercial General Aviation flight with light aircraft by flight sharing companies”. Platforms that have signed up to this charter support the provision of appropriate information to both pilots and passengers and helps to ensure that cost-shared flights are conducted within the scope of the regulation.
Commercial aviation in large passenger carrying aircraft has now achieved exceptional safety standards, a standard that would be unachievable by lighter sport, recreational and personal transport aircraft. The safety of non-commercial light aircraft is more comparable to other recreational activities than the much higher standard achieved in commercial aviation.
It is recommended that any promotion of cost-sharing, and conversations with pilots providing flights, should inform you as a potential passenger, of the safety levels of General Aviation flights with light aircraft as compared to those of commercial flying.
UK Aviation Safety Review (CAP1595) provides such comparisons.
European and national regulation states that pilots are allowed to share flights as long as the aircraft does not carry more than five passengers in addition to the pilot. Furthermore, costs can only be shared, pilots are not allowed to make any profit on the flight. Because cost shared flights remain private, the pilot does not need a commercial pilot’s licence to share the cost with passengers.
If you have concerns over the legality of any flight that have or are going to take place please refer to our webpage for reporting safety concerns:
Flying with strangers opens new potential issues ranging from security and personal safety to insurance implications. To help pilots understand the pros and cons of cost-sharing with strangers we have produced
CAP1589, a short guide to the cost sharing regulations.
Ultimately, the clear intention of the cost-sharing rules is to allow pilots to fly more - building skills and experience - while sharing their passion for aviation with others. Providing passengers and pilots understand and stick to the rules, then that intention can become a reality.
European and National regulations permit cost sharing as follows:
Direct costs mean the costs directly incurred in relation to a flight (e.g. fuel, airfield charges, rental fee for an aircraft). There can be no element of profit.
Annual costs cannot be included in the cost sharing. These are the cost of keeping, maintaining, insuring and operating the aircraft over a period of one calendar year. There can be no element of profit.
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