AOPA President Mark Baker is asking AOPA members to urge their elected officials in Congress to back legislation to clarify an FAA action that seemed to suggest, contrary to decades of guidance, that flight instruction is an operation carrying a passenger for compensation.
In a September 15 message, Baker also asked members who have already spoken out to support the Certainty for General Aviation Pilots Act of 2021 (S.2458 and H.R.4645) introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) to do so again.
“We are stronger as a pilot community when we are together and that is why I am reaching out to urge you to contact your elected officials in Congress today,” Baker wrote. “Your voice needs to be heard in support of legislation that will bring clarity to a recent FAA directive suggesting that giving and receiving flight instruction and training is considered carrying a passenger for compensation. This FAA change goes against 60 years of precedence and truly impacts safety.”
The sudden change in FAA policy in July came after a nonbinding court decision in a case involving a Florida company operating limited category warbirds. AOPA views the policy as nothing more than a “paper exercise.”
The FAA policy statement placed new burdens on thousands of pilots, aircraft owners, and flight instructors by suggesting that flight training in experimental, limited, and primary category aircraft—that is, aircraft with special airworthiness certificates—requires either a letter of deviation authority or an exemption.
“This is a safety issue and pilots and instructors who receive and give flight instruction should be able to do so with confidence and without the burden of uncertainty,” Baker wrote, adding that the clarifying legislation is supported by the entire GA industry.