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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Permission to Crawl -- or Freedom to Fly?

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About four years ago, I commented on the ridiculous amount of time the FAA was taking to make a ruling that could clarify the legal status of an Uber-like general aviation app:

For anyone who subscribes to the notion that we need the government to monitor and regulate every last move we make, I ask this question: "If the government is supposed to be so wise and powerful, why can't it answer even a simple question like this one in the more-than-ample time it gave itself?" This is not to frame the issue of government regulation as a matter of mere competence, although it is an interesting way of considering that issue.
As it turns out, the wisdom of the FAA is even less impressive than its speed: Flytenow, the company behind the app, has had to push for legislation just so pilots and passengers can take advantage of electronic communications to share expenses for private flights:
... For decades, private pilots have been legally sharing flying expenses with passengers. For pilots, flight-sharing defrays the high costs of flying, and for passengers, it's an alternative way to reach a destination or experience flying in a private plane.

cessna.jpg
Image via Wikipedia.
In 2013, we founded Flytenow, an Internet-based, flight-sharing startup offering an online bulletin board to facilitate cost-sharing arrangements between pilots and passengers. By showing a pilot’s qualifications, confirming them with the Federal Aviation Administration, and enabling both parties to connect via social media and direct messaging, we created a safe, efficient method of flight-sharing that can help pilots defray the costs of aircraft operation and ownership by as much as 75 percent.

That was, until the FAA ruled in mid-2014 that any pilot using the Internet to communicate had to comply with the same regulations applicable to commercial airlines. With that ruling, flight-sharing in the U.S. came to an abrupt halt, ...
This is a ridiculous intrusion on individual rights, and should be scrapped, along with the FAA, whose job a professional standards body ought to perform, anyway.

Flyetnow is pushing legislation in Congress, but I am saddened to see that it is based on the following "guiding principle:"
A pilot should be able to communicate to an audience of any size using whatever means he or she chooses to share a flight, including the Internet, so long as the flight is not for profit. [bold added]
I suppose it is possible that some aspect of the regulatory or political landscape makes this the best they can get in the current circumstances. Barring that, this sounds more like a plea for permission than a demand that the government do its job, which is to protect individual rights. Although the FAA is unlikely to be devolved from the government any time soon, it has no business blatantly violating right to contract for any purpose, and particularly when someone's ability to earn a living is at stake.

This article, by the cofounders of Flytenow, speaks of this bill as possibly saving general aviation in the United States. Maybe so, but unless pilots are free to profit from these arrangements if they wish, general aviation will remain on life support -- as will freedom. Whether the founders are being less ambitious than they should or think this is all they can get, the fact remains that freedom is dying in its cradle, and this bill will not-quite-save an industry that would thrive if it were set fully free.

-- CAV

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