Answers for Pilots

Business matters

September 1, 2002

Flying on company time

You own a Beechcraft Bonanza and it's hangared at the local airport five miles from the company where you work. There's a business meeting 200 miles away in a town that has a local airport. You and your staff can drive the four and a half hours or you can book a commercial flight from the nearest large airport (50 miles away) and land in the closest town to your meeting (25 miles away), rent a car, and drive to the meeting. Hmmm. Wouldn't it be easier, more convenient, less costly, and less time-consuming to simply fly everyone in the Bonanza?

"Two key questions that we often receive are: 'I want to fly for my business — can I?' and 'I've been flying for my company but now they are concerned about liability — how can I convince my company it's good for business?'" says Rob Hackman, manager of AOPA's technical services department.

Private airplanes fly on business more than four million hours each year — safely and efficiently. If you'd like to propose to your company that you fly for business or if your company is rethinking its desire to have you fly, Hackman says, "Be ready to address four key issues: productivity, safety, cost, and liability."

  • Productivity: Air travel via general aviation can help make the 24 hours each of us has in a day more productive. Airlines provide scheduled service to 655 U.S. airports and regional air service is available to an additional 288 airports. However, general aviation aircraft have access to more than 5,200 public-use airports.
  • Safety: The rarity of GA accidents and the media attention they receive when they do happen reflects the comparative safety of GA. If it's unusual, it's news. GA is currently experiencing the lowest total accident rates in recent years. For details see the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Nall Report (
  • Cost: Divide the amount of revenue and expense for which an employee is responsible by the number of his or her working hours. A sales person, for example, who produces $500,000 in business per year and is on the job 2,000 hours has a value to the company of $250 an hour. Every hour lost in travel time costs the company $250 for this employee alone. If you can reduce the amount of time spent traveling by using GA, you'll save your company money.
  • Liability: Next to safety, this is usually the subject that most concerns management. The three primary categories of flying for business — flight in a company-owned aircraft, flight in a rented or leased aircraft in which the employee acts as pilot in command, and flight in the employee's own aircraft — require different approaches to liability protection.

"If you're flying an aircraft owned and insured by the company, then you need to review the insurance policy they have on the aircraft carefully," advises Greg Sterling, executive vice president and general manager of the AOPA Insurance Agency. "You need to ensure that you meet the pilot requirements of the insurance policy and also determine exactly how you are covered personally in the event of an accident. Some policies exclude coverage for bodily injury to fellow employees, an obvious concern if you will be taking other employees on board the flight.

"In the instance where you are flying your own aircraft on the trip, your company may require it be named as an additional insured on your insurance policy. They may also wish to consider purchasing a nonowned aircraft insurance policy in their name for additional protection," adds Sterling. "Finally, if you are flying a rented aircraft on the trip, remember the insurance policy on a rental aircraft is designed to cover the FBO, not the renter pilot. In this case, you should strongly consider the purchase of a renter's insurance policy for your own protection with your company named as an additional insured and, again, your company may wish to consider purchasing a nonowned aircraft liability policy of their own," says Sterling. "Regardless of who owns the aircraft, a comprehensive review of the insurance coverage available and how it will function in the event of an accident should be a critical part of your preflight planning."

As an AOPA member, you have access to the best resources anywhere for information and answers for pilots. You can reach experts in all fields of aviation via AOPA Online (, the AOPA Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA), and e-mail ( [email protected]). Aviation technical specialists respond promptly to requests while AOPA Online provides access to information and resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The toll-free Pilot Information Center gives you direct access to specialists in every area of aviation. The center is available to members from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

AOPA Web resources

A compilation of AOPA Pilot articles and other resources concerning the use of personal aircraft for business.

A subject overview of business justification highlighting the four basic management considerations: productivity, safety, cost, and liability protection.

AOPA's A Pilot's Guide to Aircraft Insurance discusses insurance options for the aircraft owner considering using his airplane for business.

Information on owner's insurance available through the AOPA Aircraft Insurance Agency .

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker | AOPA Senior Features Editor

AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.