Private Flying LAA/BMAA/BGA/BPA The sheer pleasure of flight.

Dodgy or legit?

Old 5th Apr 2017, 12:51
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An email from the CAA Enforcement Branch confirmed that this activity is perfectly legal and that the Wingly site is quite acceptable to them. This raises the question, why are pilots still wasting their own money hour building, when this provides the perfect opportunity to build hours at minimal cost! Whether its safe, sensible, doing others out of jobs or within the terms of an insurance policy is another issue.
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 14:09
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I have been reading order 1188.

Interesting wording "direct costs of the flight otherwise payable by the pilot in command".

So if I am a PPL and I rent the airplane - OK let's say GBP200/hr a trip from A to B of 1 hour and I have a px so GBP100 to him and GBP100 to me. Splitting the direct cost (we'll forget about landing fees).

However if I am an owner/pilot things become more complicated. So my "direct cost" (my marginal cost?) is not so clear - if it said marginal cost I would have understood. Direct cost maybe no so clear - is it fuel, oil, cut of the cost of my 500 hour time limited mags, vac pump etc. Or is the direct cost the total annual cost of operating my airplane less the fixed costs (insurance, hangarage, registration etc etc) divided by the number of hours in the year. Each one can produce very different figures - now here is the wheeze - if I am doing the flight anyway does that change my direct costs.

With the FAA system it is clear - the cost for an owner pilot is marginal cost so fuel, oil, engine fund (subject to some provisos) and we have to have been going to the destination anyway (the common purpose).

Also is the cost the cost of taking someone somewhere under the EASA rules could also include the cost of coming back home without them?

All that said it does look to be legal in the UK - something which is very liberal compared to the US.
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 16:34
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The costs of a flight - at least here in the UK, do not have to be split equally.

It is now quite in order for pilot to pay less than passenger.
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 17:05
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The Wingly site says an unequal split (I presume in favour of the pilot!) is illegal as it is commercial, I assume them not covered on their longstop insurance.

This is the origin of the "dodgy or legit" question - some of the fees seem to be more than a simple straight split - all the more so if the airplane is owned by the pilot.

Being indoctrinated by the FAR's rules on this sort of thing and the expectations of the "illiberal" approach of EASA to such things it was a bit of a surprise to the see the story when getting my daily fix of right wing Uk stories from the DM online site.
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 19:31
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Cost Sharing Legality Bit:
The requirement for those costs to be shared equally has been removed. How much each individual person pays is not prescribed, but the pilot must pay something.
Advertising of flight bit:
A flight can now be advertised in advance, but it should be made clear that it is a cost sharing flight, and not commercial air transport under an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), since it is an offence to advertise the sale of a public or commercial air transport flight without being in possession of an AOC.
BUT something to note about the "cost"
Direct costs include fuel, airfield charges and any aircraft rental fee. Any other costs not directly related to the flight, for example the annual cost of keeping, maintaining and operating an aircraft, cannot be shared and no profit can be made.
So basically - you just need to setup a company, and rent your aircraft to yourself for whatever you deem appropriate to go around this bit of legislation... Its not rocket science!

Last edited by alex90; 5th Apr 2017 at 19:33. Reason: added last paragraph
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Old 5th Apr 2017, 19:57
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Insurance policy terms may offer better coverage for rental aircraft than one owned by the pilot.

Quite possibly Wingly has obtained suitable insurance coverage, but both pilots and passengers should have a careful look at the policy.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 11:49
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The whole thing sounds like a legal case waiting to happen to me. It may be legal but that doesn't mean a passenger won't try and sue both the pilot and the site should there be an accident.

On the face of it an experienced pilot taking someone along who wants to go to the same destination that the pilot is going anyway sounds like a good idea. My concern is that it is the low hour inexperienced pilots who will see this as an opportunity to save costs and they will be the ones doing most of the trips. This is likely to become a favoured method during the hour building phase.

I would ask people doing this what they think the point of the hour building phase is? This is where you go from new PPL to aircraft commander. You will make mistakes and learn from them, you will need to make go/not go decisions and gain the confidence in doing so. Having a paying passenger with time pressures to get to the destination is not a good idea.

Then there is what happens after that initial flight. If somebody wants to start it as a regular thing and offers an hour builder cash to fly him around will they say no?

Yes, it is the same as taking friends for a spin but the chances are they know your experience level and are more unlikely to sue.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 13:37
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You missed off the fourth paragraph from the CAA advice i.e.

"This aims to allow cost sharing between friends and colleagues and not to provide an air taxi service to members of the public."

Friends and colleagues does not include punters who are introduced by a search on Wingly or anything like it.

Rules is rules and lawyers is lawyers - lawyers are not in the justice business, they are in the arguement business - I find it instructive that Wingly have thought it necessary to add an insurance in case the airplanes cover refuses to pay out or otherwise denies coverage.

As with professional indemnity coverage, the insurance isn't there to pay compensation to your 'clients' it's really there to pay the lawyers to make ones arguments.

Now here's a thing - do you have to declare the "cost sharing" to the entity from which you hire an airplane? I would have said no with friends but renting to satisfy an arrangement like under Wingly - I think one should have to declare as it is the owner's insurance that will be the first port of call in the event of a claim - I would think that a claim and its scale would be work likely with a Wingly type punter.

Overall I still think it looks more than a little dodgy.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 17:26
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I imagine that an objective review of the fine print of either the owner's or rental organization's insurance would reveal wording which excludes anything approaching "public" cost sharing. The insurers very fairly perceive a much greater exposure from such dubious activities, and will charge an accordingly greater premium for the proper policy, when the requirements are met.

I have read that Uber has been in difficulty recently, apparently resulting from the less than ideal skill or conduct of some drivers - and that's only cars! There is a vastly greater risk associated with a similar type operation with airplanes. The first time there is a crash, this Wingly outfit will be in for a long nasty experience, and the regulator will feel public pressure to regulate more.

There is a long and sorry history of people "building time" while offsetting or attempting to generate revenue. The options for "sharing" the cost of flying are well understood, new pilots are well advised to stay within the box on this. After all, the genuine, authorized commercial operator, who looses business to chisel charters, may be the employer that new pilot wants to employ them when they have built that piloting time - that could be an awkward job interview! "... I got lots of that piloting time flying unsuspecting Wingly victims, in a rental 172, outside the terms under which I rented it..." in answer to the question at the job interview?!
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 18:08
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It is a commercial arrangement - Wingly is acting as an AGENT for the PPL - Wingly are getting paid from the deal somewhere so this is not cost sharing between a PPL and a friend etc

In addition, which, for me, is the coup de gras ....... Wingly are actually selling the public gift vouchers for a flight with a PPL - a flight yet to be organised !!

If you have an AOC you face the prospect of being taken out by PPLs flying transport flights.
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 02:20
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As a potential passenger (sorry I mean cost-sharer) I've had a look at some of the flights being offered on Wingly's website in the UK - it seems to be a really mixed bag.

On the one hand there are people aged 40+ with 500+ hours experience who are going somewhere on a fixed date and are open to having a companion for the journey and share the fuel cost. Some of these look quite appealing, including one from an aerodrome 2 miles from where I live to a town I've never visited before

On the other hand there are people aged about 20 with just 100 total hours flying experience, less than 10 hours on type and who claim to be very 'flexible' about when or where a cost-sharer fancies going, be it a oneway, return or scenic overflight.

The first category is possibly a good reason for Wingly to exist. The people on Wingly's site in the second category terrify me.
I sent Wingly an email asking what happens if I pay in advance and then when I meet the pilot at the aerodrome realise he seems less than 'sensible' - the response promised a refund but it seemed strange that the UK country manager should be based in Paris

Wingly claim on their website to try to prevent pseudo air taxi flights - I am not convinced they are trying hard enough to achieve this verification process. I suspect if they were strict on this, they would see much of their web traffic disappear quickly - always a challenge for start up companies to decide about 'quality business' versus getting their business going

Last edited by davidjohnson6; 7th Apr 2017 at 02:45.
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 02:55
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Not to mention crawling into an airplane flown by somebody you don't know and you have no guarantee of their skills.
Or the quality and quantity of the maintenance.
Yes I use Uber and will get into a car with a stranger but I won't get into a light airplane with a stranger and unknown maintenance.
General public seems to think that since you hold a license you must be an experienced pilot.
Or confuse age or swagger with experience.
Just the thought of getting into an airplane with somebody I haven't vetted makes my skin crawl.
Yes I'm a career pilot.
But I've also been an instructor for 13 years and I've seen harrowing things done by people that have been 'flying for years'
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 17:59
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They are pretty dedicated to the pilots that fly on their platform.
Okay... But are they dedicated to their passenger clients? Dedication common to the air transport industry norms would be that Wingly would apply for and meet the requirements for an operating certificate. Anything less is a step backward for the passengers expectations in air travel safety assurance.
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 20:52
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I haven't posted about this for some time, but I do have a bit of experience with this type of cost sharing operation having done a few flights using Skyuber some time ago. This is what I posted in an earlier thread about this:

My experience was entirely positive and the only reason that I stopped offering flights was that the FAA (I have an FAA licence and fly an N Reg) issued a statement saying they considered schemes like this located in the US not to be permitted. I thought the chances of my having a problem in Europe as a result of that to be quite low, but still didn't want to take the risk.

Turning to the operation itself.

1. Is it legal?

Both Wingly and Skyuber say that they have formal confirmation that, if operated on the cost sharing basis as set out by both Skyuber and Wingly i.e. sharing only of DIRECT costs (DOC) including fuel, oil, landing fees and aircraft rental and NOTHING else: it is legal in CAA and EASA land.

I am told that there are moves underway to confirm that it actually is legal in FAA land as well and, if that happens, I will gladly start offering rides again.

2. Is it safe from a pilot's perspective?

Much has been made of the question about flying with someone you have never met and the problem of their expectation that "I've paid and expect to fly" whatever the circumstances.

I never had any such problem, even though I did cancel two flights (one for weather and one when my plans changed).

The way I managed the process on all my flights was to contact all of my riders a couple of days ahead of the flight and let them know the meeting arrangements and pointing out to them that there is a possibility that the flight could end up being cancelled or the time could change And that, if that happened, I would let them know as early as possible.

I also ensured that they had my contact details in case any issues or questions arose at their end. I felt that establishing a personal contact in this way ahead of the flight would engender a greater level of understanding of what is involved.

I would check weather the day before the flight (I have an IR and thus have more leeway on the conditions I can fly) and, if it looked questionable, would contact my rider, tell them the situation and offer them the chance to cancel. None did at that stage.

On the day: if the weather looked bad or, even if flyable for me, potentially unpleasant for the rider, I would contact them and tell them what it was like and again offer the chance to cancel. One person did so and I had no problem whatever with that.

In summary: I had a number of flights, none of which was remotely problematic; and I met some nice people with genuine interest in flying.

3. Is it safe from a passenger point of view?

I have seen flights advertised by multi-thousand hour ATPLs as well as by the "61 hour PPL"; and aircraft ranging from a business jet to a microlight; as well as journeys ranging from a half hour local bimble to a trans-european flight.

Obviously, these are ends of a wide spectrum and riders do have to exercise an element of judgment.

Both Skyuber and, I believe, Wingly do vet pilots by verifying the licences and ratings held, as well as insurance and current medical. They also get the pilots to publish details of their experience and a personal profile as well as details of the aircraft to be flown.

Riders are encouraged to post ratings and reviews of pilots that flew them and pilots are also encouraged to rate riders.

That at least provides potential riders with some assurance that the pilots are what they claim to be and gives an indication of the relative level of experience and the nature of the aircraft in relation to the planned flight.

4. Is it "a nice littler earner"?

In a word: no.

I probably got a rider on about one flight in every six I offered. I was offering seats in a four seater aircraft at 1/4 of the DOC as defined above, with no rental component as I own the aircraft. I never got more than one rider on a flight.

The problem is obvious: unless the flight is a bimble with the same start and end point, not only does the rider have to want to go where the pilot wants to go and at the time chosen by the pilot; they also have to find their own way home unless they want to come back at the same time as the pilot. As a result, you are very unlikely to get a rider that wants to do the flight for a specific purpose other than just to fly; certainly I never did. That obviously limits the number of riders you can expect to get.

That is also a good reason why this isn't a "taxi service": because it is the pilot, and not the passenger, who decides where the flight is going and at what time it leaves before it is advertised.

Regarding the point about a rider handing over cash: that's not how it works. What happens is that the rider registers a credit or debit card with the site and it is debited with the agreed amount only after the pilot confirms that the flight has been completed. The share of the cost is then remitted to your bank account less the site's fee. In my case, at least, it worked seamlessly.

5. So why do it?

I did it because I quite like the idea of sharing the experience of flying and meeting other people with an interest in aviation. That's pretty much the same reason why the people who flew with me chose to do so. In achieving that it was very successful and, as I said earlier, I hope to be able to start doing it again soon.

6. So, is it a good idea?

I understand and respect the concerns expressed by several posters in this and other threads. I don't want to say that there is absolutely nothing to worry about; but given a reasonable level of engagement with the people who want to fly with you, combined with normal levels of competent airmanship and judgement: there really should be no unreasonable risk. That said: each to their own!

Personally? I have enjoyed doing it."

My .02
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 22:43
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In all honesty is it worth the hassle Jonzarno?

Surely it is a bit like AirBnb.

I would not like to share my empty property when I am away for months on end.

However I would like a trip to anywhere with you when back in the UK :-)
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 11:17
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@ Jay Sata

Each to his own, I suppose.

Oh, and by the way, feel free to get in touch when you are back and we'll set something up!

(It'll make a change not being the "sole pilot" )
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 12:25
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My take on all the 'disruptive'/'sharing economy' services I've come across is that they aim (or claim to aim) to be offering the opportunity for ordinary punters to share their resources (empty room/flat, spare seats in the car or plane) but owe their success to people who are using their services to avoid the regulation placed on 'proper' services (hotels, taxis, airlines/AOC/air taxi).

Those regulations were put there for good reasons, whether that is physical safety (hotels have fire safety requirements, obligations to look after your stuff; AOCs require proper company ops etc.) or safety from dangerous people (taxi drivers are usually checked out, and there are some horrendous AirBnB stories about barmy owners).
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 17:41
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Speaking as a pilot that has used SkyUber

I fly most weeks commercially as a passenger but from time toting take business trips flying myself. Some months ago I decided to do a Helsinki trip with a fuel stop in Roskilde and advertised all four legs on SkyUber. I ended up with 1 passenger on the legs to and from the uk. I thoroughly enjoyed having the company in the cruise and found it a very worthwhile experience as well as appreciating the cost share element. I will certainly continue to advertise any similar trips as long as it remains legal

Originally Posted by tmmorris View Post
My take on all the 'disruptive'/'sharing economy' services I've come across is that they aim (or claim to aim) to be offering the opportunity for ordinary punters to share their resources (empty room/flat, spare seats in the car or plane) but owe their success to people who are using their services to avoid the regulation placed on 'proper' services (hotels, taxis, airlines/AOC/air taxi).

Those regulations were put there for good reasons, whether that is physical safety (hotels have fire safety requirements, obligations to look after your stuff; AOCs require proper company ops etc.) or safety from dangerous people (taxi drivers are usually checked out, and there are some horrendous AirBnB stories about barmy owners).
I beg to differ.

Yes, regulations were put there for good reasons. But on the basis of a backward looking view of the world. The technological shift has changed the paradigm unalterably.

You cite airbnb as an example of bad practice. The complaints re airbnb account for a minuscule proportion of the travel enabled. How else could I have found an opportunity to stay with my kids with a delightful family in Hoi An a while back.

The regulated operators, hotels, airlines or whatever also have a minuscule proportion of cases where regulation fails to protect. Just ask the Chapiones teams' families. Or German Wings.

In the first case, Rogue operator: yes. Regulated: yes, whatever you may think about the country in question etc. In the second, Rogue Operator: unquestionably not. Regulated: yes. But there, some would argue, regulation was the issue. Not the aviation regulations but existing German privacy law which in this case treated the right of an individual to medical privacy as sacrosanct irrespective of the responsibilities the person held for the lives and safety of others.

As I see it the issues here are that change in society was traditionally slow and regulation proceeded at the same pace. Change is now incredibly quick and we have not yet figured out how to adapt our political and regulatory processes to respond to the new realities of the world.

It all sounds a bit like horse breeders bemoaning the creation of the internal combustion engine to me.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 19:06
  #39 (permalink)  
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All well and good - but the whole thing does seem to run contrary to the CAA's intentions that,

"This aims to allow cost sharing between friends and colleagues and not to provide an air taxi service to members of the public."

I am not convinced that it's not a taxi service because the passenger does not decide where it is going - the lawyers could have a $250,000 pay day on that point.

So it is intended to provide a "bus service to members of the public" (rather like BA to New York

I still think we are all waiting for the first serious injury accident or fatality - that should shake the dust out of it.
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Old 11th Apr 2017, 12:32
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So is this going to be a renaissance of private flying in the uk, where taxes on fuel mean me pay per litre what America pays per gallon.

If my hourly costs were to drop from 80 to 20 because a few other none pilots fancy a trip tp Dublin or John O groat or maybe to Holland....
It suddenly makes sense to get a plane to share..

I am interested to see how private flyers see this as opposed to AOC operators Air Taxis etc.
Johan in Holland says he flies most weekends into Blackpool and up to four people can grab a seat in his Cherokee six...
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