If you’re relatively new to business aviation, you’ve likely had questions about the differences between FAR Parts 91 and 135 operations. There’s no need to feel bad about that – the topic causes confusion from time to time for even the most experienced operators, too!
As with many topics related to the FARs, the basic concepts are fairly easy to understand. In the simplest terms possible, Part 91 governs private operations, while Part 135 concerns commercial operations. If an operation intends to make money from the flight, that’s a Part 135 flight.
As you might expect, the latter category will be more strictly regulated than a Part 91 private flight. For example, to be compensated for a Part 135 flight the operator must possess an operating certificate from the FAA. Part 135 operations also have more stringent requirements for minimum landing runway length, and have different tax obligations than private flights.
Add corporate use to the mix and the picture becomes a bit more muddled, while still remaining true to those basic concepts. If you intend to offer your company aircraft for hire, and your company will generate revenue from the passengers or cargo carried on that chartered flight, those operations must be conducted under Part 135. However, if you use your aircraft on company business, such as flying employees – but without receiving compensation for the flight – you may generally still conduct operations under Part 91. That qualifier explains why most corporate flying is conducted under Part 91, in full compliance with the FARs.
You may now ask, “So, what’s the confusing part?” That would be Part 91, Subpart F – which allows limited compensation in some circumstances for what would otherwise be considered a private flight.
An example of a Subpart F operation would be a flight onboard your aircraft, but for an “affiliate” business other than your own. As long as that flight is “within the scope of, and incidental to, the business of [your] company,” you may recover the costs for that flight from the affiliate business. Subpart F also allows companies operating aircraft over 12, 500 pounds or turbojet powered aircraft to “time share” with another entity, and recoup certain costs for those flights.
While the FARs detail requirements for FAR part 91 and 135 operations, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) also has great online resources to assist operators with the nuances of Part 135 operations. (www.nbaa.org/admin/options).
Posted with permission of Premium on Safety, published by the United Sates Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG) and the Air Safety Institute, a division of the AOPA Foundation (c) 2011