Businesses and individuals face many regulatory issues in connection with owning or operating an aircraft. Aircraft owners or operators who are unfamiliar with the limitations imposed by the applicable regulations may unnecessarily expose themselves to liability for non-compliance.
For example, aircraft owners or operators commonly attempt to shield their liability by creating some form of business entity that is a subsidiary of the “real” operating company to own the aircraft. Or, rather than forming a subsidiary, they create a business entity to own the aircraft that is solely owned by the individual who really wants to use the aircraft.
In either scenario, the aircraft is the sole substantive asset of the company, and the business entity is used to maintain and fly the aircraft for the benefit of the parent company or individual owner of the business entity. By structuring the ownership and operation of the aircraft in this manner, the aircraft owner and/or operator has just fallen into the “flight department company trap.”
I recently presented a continuing legal education program on this very topic for Lawline. In my presentation, I discussed the various rules and regulations promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration that have a significant impact on how businesses or individuals are permitted to utilize private aircraft, as well as how to identify the flight department company trap, understand the consequences of creating a flight department company, and available alternatives to avoid falling into the trap and legally conduct private aircraft operations.
If you would like to learn more, you can view a short clip from the CLE here. Otherwise, you can find other posts discussing this topic here on The Pre-Flight Brief or on our Aviation Law Articles page. And, of course, if you have specific questions or would like to discuss this topic further, please feel free to contact me.