14 CFR Section 61.113(a) imposes the restriction that unless a pilot is specifically authorized by the FAA to do so, a pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire. This prohibition generally means only certificated charter or other air carriers and commercial operators may be compensated for transporting persons or property.

14 CFR Section 61.113(c) allows the direct cost of operating a flight to be shared by the occupants of an aircraft by stating that a pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.


Stated arithmetically, and not in the negative, the above cost-sharing regulation may be reasonably construed to mean that a pilot may collect from passengers up to an amount or benefit that is equal to the cost of the flight multiplied by the number of passengers on board the aircraft, divided by the number of persons on board the aircraft. Perhaps other cost-sharing computation methods may be inferred, such as in the instance of a diminutive pilot sharing costs with rotund passengers.

The cost-sharing part of the regulation is probably stated in the negative to not require the pilot to collect from each passenger an equal amount, or even to collect from all passengers any amount, but only that the pilot may not collect from all passengers an amount or benefit that exceeds the cost allocable to the passengers on a per-capita basis. For example, a pilot carrying two cost-sharing passengers may not receive payment or other benefit from the passengers of more than 2/3 of the cost of the flight. If only the pilot and one passenger are on a cost-sharing flight, the pilot may not receive a payment or benefit of more than the cost of the flight.


When the regulation refers to compensation, it does not limit compensation to monetary exchanges, but includes conveying to the pilot anything to which value can be attributed.


The cost-sharing regulation is explicit in that it refers only to passengers, and not to property. It's referring only to passengers prohibits a pilot from sharing with anyone the cost of transporting property, thereby precluding property carried on the aircraft from being considered when determining the amount the pilot may collect from passengers for the flight. Accordingly, the cost-sharing cannot contemplate passenger luggage or other non-human weight.


The use of the words for hire by the regulations imposes the requirement that the passenger(s) not direct any aspects of the flight, including its timing, departure location, course, or destination. For the flight to not be for hire, it must be the pilot who has the travel need and who makes the decisions respecting the flight; the passengers are tantamount to hitchhikers willing to help pay for the flight.


The cost-sharing part of the regulation is also explicit as to what costs may be shared with the passengers, which are fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees. Fuel and oil consumption is self explanatory; airport expenses can include landing fees, hangaring, tie down, and line services. If an aircraft is rented for a flight, the cost that can be shared with passengers may be the entire cost of the flight. Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that the cost of a pilot providing pilot services may be shared by the passengers and aircraft renter(s)/owner(s).

Although the cost-sharing part of the regulation does not specifically state that it is the passengers who must pay, as opposed to a non-passenger or other entity, it can be reasonably inferred that it should be only the passengers who contribute to the cost of the flight since the word share is used in the regulation.

The cost-sharing regulation also refers to what an individual pilot may receive when cost-sharing for a flight, and does not appear to contemplate flights having multiple crew members. A reasonable interpretation of the regulation would be to treat all crew members as if they were one pilot and one person when computing passenger cost sharing.