FAA bans startup like Uber for planes

Flytenow or Airpooler would like to be the Uber for planes, or may be a little bite more like blablacar in France. Even if the sharing economy should promise a great future, authorities could decide differently.

Airpooler asked the Federal Aviation Administration if his service: letting private pilots offering free seats to people for a ride, is legal. Not totally free, because there are some fees, the only compensation is money for gas.
The start-up needs a clarification because in 1963, a rule allowed a private pilot to ask people if they would like to fly and share the cost with him. But now, thank to internet, these startups act more like commercial companies ,when they publicly offer seats to private pilots ,publishing their flights date and destinations with a corresponding fee.

airpooler On one hand, passengers see the availability and the cost of the flight, and on the other hand it could encourages the captain to choose an attractive destination to ensure a good filling of the plane.

The 13th of August, 2014 the agency banned this new way of plane sharing[1], because officially they would protect consumers from rookie pilots, but it also protects commercial companies from this emergent competition. Like Theverge.com reports the decision say: “We conclude that, with regard to pilots using the AirPooler website, all four elements of common carriage are present. By posting specific flights to the AirPooler website, a pilot participating in the AirPooler service would be holding out to transport persons or property from place to place for compensation or hire. Although the pilots participating in the AirPooler website have chosen the destination, they are holding out to the public to transport passengers for compensation in the form of a reduction of the operating expenses, they would have paid for the flight.”

So, startups like Airpooler or Flytenow need to change their business model or wait for authorities to change their mind about a practice that will continue on airfield instead of sharing it on the internet. Private pilots lost a big source of compensation, without the correct licence it’s totally illegal to continue this sharing economy. For traveling with passengers or goods, US private pilots need to obtain a certificate like any other air carrier.
At this time, the French agency called DGAC, said nothing about this business, but we could expect the same answer.

Uber suffers such mishaps since months. Berlin prohibits Uber on their roads, because without the correct assurance, consumers take a big risk traveling with its drivers, they are not protected well during the trip if an accident occurred.
In September, French parliament will adopt the Thévenoud law; it enforces some rules for drivers not having a taxi licence: one of them is that they could not take people on the street without a reservation.

[1] Link to the decision : http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/236884814?width=1280

 

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Thomas BRODHAG

Etudiant en Master 2 Droit de l’Economie Numérique.
Je suis passionné de nouvelles technologies, du droit qui les
encadre et plus particulièrement par la propriété intellectuelle.

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