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PIC, or passenger?

Take the following scenario:

A is cost sharing a plane (say a rented plane, but it could be owned by one of the two) with B.

A flies one leg and logs it as PIC. On that leg A is obviously PIC and B is a passenger.

B flies one leg and logs it as PIC. On that leg B is obviously PIC and A is a passenger.

But the PIC v. passenger status is evident only after a successful landing and when the logbooks are written up.

The above is a really common scenario; many if not most GA pilot can fly only if cost sharing.

Let's say on the 2nd flight they crashed and B (the PIC) gets crippled for life, and A (the passenger) gets killed.

B is now in a difficult position. Being the PIC, he is not insured for a single penny (unless he had a separate life policy, etc).

But if he claims to have been a passenger, he can claim from the passenger insurance, which (unless it is one of the bogus ones with a ~€100k limit) is good for a few million, which is going to be really handy if you are spending the next 50 years in a wheelchair.

And A is now dead so he can't dispute anything.

Even if the passenger cover is just the legal minimum, B can collect that and go after A's estate for the rest, and probably clean it right out.

Food for thought.

A few years ago I researched the legality of renting out an N-reg plane. In the UK, there was the [in]famous ANO Article 115 (since renumbered to god knows what) which required Govt permission for any activity in a non-G-reg where money changed hands. But renting seemed OK. I phoned up the top man at the DfT and he indeed said it was OK, no DfT permission needed, but he added "but you don't want to be in the cockpit at the same time as the renter, do you?". I could see his drift, which was that the renter could argue that he was a paying passenger, which would make the flight instantly illegal (need an AOC, etc). But also, post-crash, taking the above scenario, and this is true for any aircraft reg, if the "self proclaimed passenger" claims he was paying to be flown (and in the rental case there would be evidence of a "payment"!) then the flight was illegal which means insurance is void which means the RHS's estate is likely to get cleaned out... Admittedly the RHS's corpse would still be in the RHS but that doesn't mean much because almost any plane can be legally flown from the RHS.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Let's say on the 2nd flight they crashed and B (the PIC) gets crippled for life, and A (the passenger) gets killed. A is now in a difficult position....

He is indeed!


Typo corrected

Too many damn mistakes!

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I suppose if A was in the left hand seat, then PIC or not, perhaps some would see him as responsible for the flight - being the traditional 'captain' seat and therefore a little harder (but maybe not impossible) to defend. If A was in the right hand seat, then it would likely be easier to convince anyone he was not PIC, even if he was.

Is there anything under EASA or the FAA reg's that prevents a pilot in the right hand seat from being PIC without a checkout or a signature in a log book or something. So long as the person in the left hand seat was also a current pilot with appropriate type rating etc..., I assume it's not an issue. I know that detracts from the original question, but it is related to insurance at least. If I was PIC in the right hand seat, but the person in the left hand seat was not a pilot, then I assume from an insurance perspective at least, it wouldn't be looking favourable in any claim.

If you are the owner it is very tricky to shake the presumption that you are PIC. A more complex issue arises with the owner accompanied by an instructor.

EGTK Oxford

Both A and B are "crippled for life".... Each claims to have been a passenger during this flight....


Both A and B are "crippled for life".... Each claims to have been a passenger during this flight....

A judge (and maybe a jury) has to make the decision then

Insurance questions have very little to do with what is legal or not. When I teach in a Bonanza with a throw over yoke, I have a signed agreement with respect to who is PIC for the flight. It gets left in my truck during the flight.

A private pilot may share expenses with their passengers on a pro-rata basis, but neither the pilot nor the passenger may be compensated for this expense. If a private pilot flies to a business meeting, they can be compensated as long as the flight is incidental to their job, but they may not carry a passenger or property.

Who acts as PIC and who gets to log PIC are very separate issues. The pilot who acts as PIC may only log PIC time while they are the sole manipulator of the controls unless they are also a safety pilot required under 91.109. Otherwise to log PIC, the pilot needs to be rated in the category and class. Only the acting PIC or safety pilot require a medical. The requirement for currency is an acting PIC requirement, so a safety pilot that does not have a current Flight Review or is not current to carry passengers day or night, may still perform the duties of the safety pilot. If by prior agreement, the safety pilot is also designated as the acting PIC, then both the pilot manipulating the controls during simulated instrument flight and the safety pilot may log PIC for that time. However, only the pilot manipulating the controls during takeoff and landing or anytime the hood is not in place may log PIC for that time. Similarly, either pilot may not log X/C unless they perform the takeoff and landing. In another anomaly, for the purposes of obtaining currency, day or night, the instructor is not considered a passenger and if the pilot receiving instruction is rated for category and class they may act as PIC even if the instructor is not day/night current.

KUZA, United States

This is off at a tangent but the US "common purpose" cost sharing rules are mind bending. I am sure 99% of pilots there either don't cost share (which is plausible; I never do, even though cost sharing in an N-reg is illegal anyway in UK airspace) or they just ignore them and operate it like Europeans who don't need to meet any such test.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Cost sharing is quite common with private pilots and passengers. We used to fly to Lake Tahoe often for gambling day trips in an Aztec, it was quite reasonable split 6 ways.

KUZA, United States
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