Guide to Charitable/Nonprofit/Community Event Sightseeing Flights

Guide to Charitable/Nonprofit/Community Sightseeing Flights

Charitable flying

Table of Contents

Importance to Members

Overview

Technical Information

Additional Resources

From the AOPA Archives

Table of Contents

Importance to Members

Charitable flights are a terrific way to contribute to the community while doing something you love. As pilots we are aware of the many rules and regulations that impact us. This report will detail the different regulations surrounding charitable flights.

Please call AOPA’s Pilot Information Center with questions – 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 8:00 ET.

Overview

General aviation pilots often engage in sightseeing flights in conjunction with local airport open-house events to raise funds for airport authorities, churches, civic groups, boy scouts and girl scouts, or local community members in time of need. These flight operations not only raise much-needed funds, but also foster productive working relationships between pilots, airport authorities, airport neighbors, local politicians, and other members of the local community. These sightseeing flights are invaluable in terms of promoting the utility, value, and overall image of general aviation to the non-flying public.

Technical Information

The FAA revised the rules for these events by creating section 91.146 in 2007. AOPA has developed the following guide to help members understand the FAA's new requirements. The guide should be used in conjunction with the applicable FARs before you undertake this event to make sure all requirements are met. It applies to flights in airplanes and helicopters only — not gliders (powered or non-powered), balloons, etc. Be sure to  check the definitions of charitable, nonprofit, and community events to be certain your event qualifies. If you do not qualify for the specific event limitations of 91.146, you are required to comply with 91.147. This guide is not meant to provide guidance for those operations.

How to Conduct a Charitable/Nonprofit/Community Event Sightseeing Flight

  • Determining eligibility
    • Pilot in command
      • The pilot in command must hold at least a private pilot certificate; and
      • Hold a current and valid medical.
      • Be current in accordance with  14 CFR 61.56 and  61.57.
      • Any private pilot must have logged at least 500 hours of total flight time. (Prior to 2007, the requirement was 200 hours).
      • Must not have participated in more than four of these events during the current calendar year.
      • Drug testing is no longer required.
    • Aircraft
      • The aircraft used for the charity/sightseeing event must:
        • Hold a standard airworthiness certificate.
        • Be airworthy and comply with the requirements of subpart E of part 91.
        • Have no more than 30 seats excluding crewmember seats and a maximum payload of 7,500 pounds.
        • Be sure to check with your aircraft insurance provider to verify coverage for the flight. Click here for AOPA Insurance Services.
    • Airport
      • The flight must be conducted from a public airport that is adequate for the aircraft to be used, or another airport that has been approved by the FAA for the operation.
    • Sponsor
      • Charitable or non-profit — limited to four events per year with no event lasting more than three consecutive days.
      • Community — limited to one event per year with no event lasting more than three consecutive days.
    • Beneficiary of the funds
      • The beneficiary of the funds raised may not be in the business of transportation by air.
    • Reimbursement to aircraft operator
      • Any reimbursement of the aircraft operator is limited to that portion of the passenger payment for the flight that does not exceed the pro rata cost of owning, operating, and maintaining the aircraft for that flight, which may include fuel, oil, airport expenses, and rental fees.
  • Prior to the event
    • Sponsor notifies FSDO at least seven days before event.
      • At least seven days before the event begins, the sponsor must notify the FSDO having jurisdiction over the area concerned. The notification must be a signed letter from the sponsor that shows the following:
    • Name of the sponsor.
    • The purpose of the charitable event.
    • The date, time, and location of the event.
    • All prior events in which the sponsor participated during the current calendar year.
    • A photocopy of each pilot in command's pilot certificate.
    • A photocopy of each pilot's medical certificate.
    • A photocopy of each pilot's logbook entries showing that the pilot is current in accordance with 61.56 and 61.57 and that any private pilot has logged at least 500 hours of flight time.
    • A signed statement from each pilot that lists all prior events in which the pilot participated during the current calendar year.
    • Click here for a list of FSDOs.
  • During the event
    • No aerobatic or formation flights are allowed.
    • Each flight is made in day VFR conditions.
    • Each flight must begin and end at the same airport and remain within a 25-statute-mile radius of that airport.
    • Each flight is conducted in accordance with the safety provisions of  part 136, subpart A, of the FARs. Make sure you check them. They require:
      • Safety briefing including:
    • Procedures for fastening and unfastening seatbelts;
    • Prohibition on smoking; and
    • Procedures for opening exits and exiting the aircraft.
    • Safety briefing and equipment for over-water operations.
    • Flights are not conducted over a national park, unit of a national park, or abutting tribal lands, unless the operator has secured a letter of agreement from the FAA, as specified under  subpart B of part 136 of the FARs, and is operating in accordance with that agreement during the flights.

Additional Resources

Regulatory Brief: Commercial Air Tour, Charity, and Sight Seeing Rule

Click here for a list of FDSO’s

Click here for a definition of terms

From the AOPA Archives

Pilots Counsel: Charitable Flights
AOPA Pilot, March 1996

Why we Fly: Charitable Endeavors
AOPA Flight Training, December 2005