Business aviation is attracting new customers during the COVID-19 pandemic as travelers seek to minimize their potential exposure to the virus and react to flight reductions by commercial airlines. As a result, many aircraft flight departments and Part 91 operators may be faced with situations in which they accept payment or reimbursement for flying a passenger – and unwittingly put themselves and passengers at risk by operating an illegal charter flight.
As part of its NBAA News Hour series, the National Business Aviation Association recently hosted a one-hour webinar entitled “How to Avoid Illegal Charters as We Emerge from COVID-19.” Moderated by Brian Koester, NBAA director of flight operations and regulations, the webinar featured advice from a panel of experts. Discussion centered around whether an operator can conduct certain flights under Part 91, or whether the operator must have an Air Carrier Certificate and operate as a Part 135. “Part of the problem that we see people running into on a frequent basis, is that many of the rules are counterintuitive,” said Ronald Brower, senior vice president and senior aviation counsel of Wheels Up. “Many of the rules are not obvious. It is not a moral right or wrong to want to save money for your company or to have reimbursement for things you do to help someone else.”