Opportunities for UK private pilots to clock-up more flying time have greatly increased with the emergence over the last few years of online services such as Wingly and Coavmi. For a fee, these companies offer to connect general aviation pilots with passengers who are willing to share the costs of a recreational flight - fuel, landing fees etc. Until recently, pilots could only share those costs with friends or fellow flying club members, who all had to chip in.
Now, thanks to the introduction of a regulation by the EU, the costs of private flights can be shared by up to six people including the pilot, with the rules not specifying what proportion each person has to pay. The restrictions on advertising have also been removed, allowing online platforms to introduce pilots and passengers.
As a result, thousands of European private pilots have now signed up with flight sharing services as a way of funding their recreational flying. Some of these web-based platforms have signed up to a Charter developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on cost shared flights and are doing much to manage the risks associated with these flights. The Charter can be found on the EASA website.
However, flying with strangers is a totally different experience to taking family or friends for a spin, so we at the CAA are very keen that pilots who do embrace these new-found opportunities fully understand the risks involved. Many of the risks involved in such flights haven't changed just because the passengers were not previously known to the pilot - it is important that the risks and the nature of the flight are understood by both parties.
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 this short guide to the new rules.
Ultimately, the clear intention of relaxing 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.