incredibly misunderstood subject amongst pilots, is when it is legal for a
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of internationally-recognized (and ICAO-standardized) pilot licences that exist:
Private Pilot Licence
Commercial Pilot Licence
Airline Transport Licence
The holder of a Private Pilot Licence may act as Pilot-In-Command of any aircraft for which his licence is endorsed, amongst other things. See CAR 401.26 for all the gory (and fascinating) details. Did you know that your PPL is also a Student Pilot Permit for other categories of aircraft such as helicopters, gliders and airships? I digress.
Back on topic. CAR 401.28 makes it very clear that a Private Pilot may not act as PIC “for hire or reward” unless one of the exemptions (loopholes) in CAR 401.28 is met.
Let’s take at the loopholes. CAR 401.28(5) says that if you are a farmer and a Private Pilot, you can be a local agricultural spray pilot for hire, under some restrictions. This probably doesn’t apply to you unless you wear rubber boots and overalls most of the time and don’t swat at flies circling over your head like I do. I hate mud and flies.
CAR 401.28(4) says that a Private Pilot can be compensated while flying for a charity, and spells out exactly what compensation is allowed when the pilot owns the aircraft, and when the pilot rents the aircraft.
CAR 401.28(3) says that a Private Pilot can be compensated for flying an airplane by his employer while travelling on business, much as he would if he had rented a car. This sounds cool, but your employer will probably not want you doing this because of the liability exposure for them, if you have an accident. However, as I tell women in bars, anything is possible with the right insurance underwriter.
Now for the juicy one, that causes so much confusion. CAR 401.28(2) says that a Private Pilot can be compensated for a flight by his passengers, under particular circumstances only. The amount of compensation is specified by CAR 401.28(2)(d). The difficult-to-understand part of CAR 401.28(2) is CAR 401.28(2)(c) – the restriction that passengers are carried only “incidentally”. 99.999% of Private Pilots have no clue what that word means. Proof by example follows.
Let’s say you are an eager young Private Pilot that wants to build hours, so you put out an advertisement that you are willing to take people for rides in an airplane for so many dollars. This contravenes CAR 401.28(2) because the passengers are NOT “incidental” to the flight – they are the purpose of the flight, and you’re operating a commercial air service. You will be contacted by Enforcement, because a PPL cannot do that.
let’s say that you put an advertisement in the paper that says that on November
1st you are flying to
If you can
actually understand the difference between the two paragraphs, you are head and
shoulders above the rest of the Private Pilots in
Now for a grey area. CAR 401.28 specifies “hire or reward” as compensation for a PPL.
However, a PPL could be considered to be compensated in other ways than just money.
Let’s say our eager young pilot above builds his hours and gets his Commercial Pilot Licence. Finally, after all that hard work, he thinks he can put out an advertisement offering to take people for rides for cash. WRONG. Having a Commercial Pilot Licence is only part of the legal requirement to carry passengers for hire. In addition, he needs to have an Operating Certificate of some kind, because he is operating a Commercial Air Service.
What is a Commercial Air Service? Well, Transport and the Tribunal and I have had notable disagreements about the exact definition, but I define a Commercial Air Service as the combination of a Pilot and an Aircraft which is offered to the public, for hire.
Transport is all about protecting the public that doesn’t know anything about aviation, and they carefully regulate all Commercial Air Services by requiring them to have an Operating Certificate (OC). It is non-trivial to acquire an OC. An immense amount of paperwork and time and money is required to obtain one, and if you haven’t done it before, you almost certainly can’t do it by yourself the first time without the help of a retired Transport Inspector or someone else that has done it before.
There are different kinds of Commercial Air Services and Operating Certificates. Our young, eager Commercial Pilot is qualified via CAR 401.30(1)(c) to get a paying (snort) flying job at a company which holds an OC. There are many different kinds of Operating Certificates:
CAR 406 – Flight Training Unit
CAR 702 – Aerial Work (banner tow, jumper dump, etc)
CAR 703 – Charter (single-engine, or non-jet multi-engine up to 19,000 lbs & 9 pax)
CAR 704 – Charter (multi-engine up to 19,000 lbs, jets up to 50,000 lbs & 19 pax)
CAR 705 – Airline (over 19,000 lbs & more than 19 pax)
I haven’t addressed the long, strange story of CAR 604 here – see below.
number of Commercial Pilots in
You might get the impression from the above that the only way a CPL can be compensated is in the employ of an OC. Some people would probably like you to believe that to be the case, but it isn’t. You simply need to figure out how to get compensated without offering a Commercial Air Service to the public, since you don’t have an OC.
One example of this is if someone owns a privately-registered aircraft, and hires you as a CPL to fly it for them. No Commercial Air Service here, because the combination of an aircraft and a pilot is NOT being offered to the public for hire. The owner of the aircraft is NOT one of the unwashed masses of the public that Transport is trying to protect. This is an important concept for a young CPL to understand.
Now, there are variations on the above that cause Transport heartburn. Let’s say that the owner of the privately-registered aircraft – could be a single, could be a pressurized piston twin – owns a company and hires you to fly his equipment and employees around. This does not contravene any regulations but can make Transport very unhappy. They would really like you to get a CAR 604 OC, even if you are legally not required to obtain one.
What is a
CAR 604 OC? Long, painful story
here. CAR 604.02 requires that you
obtain a 604 Operating Certificate if you operate a privately-registered
aircraft to transport passengers, and that aircraft is turbine &
pressurized, over 12,500 lbs. The intent
of this legislation – I know one of guys that worked on it, long retired from
Transport now – was to ensure that corporate jets had adequately-trained
pilots, and that some records were kept of their training, etc. It grew into a horrible, expensive
monstrosity which is NOT required in the
Another (non-604) variation on the above that makes Transport itchy is when a person rents (or leases) a non-604 aircraft (instead of owning it) and hires a CPL to fly it for them privately. Theoretically there is no Commercial Air Service, but …
non-604 variation is when there are multiple owners/renters/leasers of the non-604
aircraft. You are now in the fractional
ownership business which is very popular in the
Word to the wise: Transport may ask you to do something that is actually not required by the regulations. What to do? For most people it’s easy - do it - because they don’t know the regulations. But if you do know the regulations, think twice before arguing with Transport, especially if you are right. Nothing will piss them off more than if you are right and they are wrong about their regulations, and pissing off Transport is really not something you ever want to do because of the decades-long pain that it will cause you. Trust me on that.