This week the FAA responded to an EAA petition, filed in April 2012, which would allow volunteer private pilots flying Young Eagles to be reimbursed for fuel consumed during sanctioned Young Eagles events.
In its response, the FAA said “a partial grant of exemption would be in the public interest. The FAA has previously determined that it is in the public interest to allow a volunteer pilot who holds at least a private pilot certificate to accept limited compensation for providing orientation flights to participants in the EAA Young Eagles program. The FAA finds that the EF/YE flights are similar to sightseeing operations offered by commercial entities on a for-hire basis. However, we acknowledge that the EF/YE program is unique and designed strictly as a tool to familiarize the non-flying public with general aviation operations. For that reason, we find it is worthwhile to assist EAA’s cause, and to place conditions and limitations that provide an equivalent level of safety and meet the general public’s expectations.”
However, the agency said that “the minimum level of pilot certification to operate under the terms of an exemption for the EF/YE program is at least a private pilot certificate. The inherent limitations of the recreational pilot and sport pilot certificate do not lend themselves to quasi-commercial flying of this nature.”
The EAA said in a news release that the Young Eagles and Advocacy/Safety departments are reviewing the exemption to determine what, if any, benefit it provides to the EAA-member volunteer pilots who fly Young Eagles.
“We need to carefully analyze the FAA’s response to our request and this exemption,” said Brian O’Lena, manager of the Young Eagles program. “We need to be sure that the exemption, as written, provides clear benefits to all participants in the Young Eagles program.”
EAA will provide additional information to EAA chapters and Young Eagles pilots as it completes its analysis.