Airplane ridesharing startup Flytenow today announced that it is shutting down after a court recently upheld the FAA’s power to regulate what does (and does not) constitute a commercial aviation operation.
Flytenow wanted to bring together private pilots and those who wanted to fly with them. From the get-go, though, Flytenow and similar startups like Airpooler were going to run into massive issues.
The FAA has always said that private pilots can not advertise and get compensation for flights. There are some minor exceptions to this (if you and somebody else are flying to the same meeting, for example, you can split the cost), but the FAA always said that you can’t even advertise that you are flying somewhere and would like to split the cost of fuel.
Last year, the FAA reexamined its rules and stuck to its guns. Flytenow then requested a review of that ruling and last week, a court basically upheld these rules. If you only have a private pilot license, you can’t advertise that you would like to share your flying expenses on services like Flytenow.
This is pretty much the end of the road for services like Flytenow. Ridesharing startups like Uber were able to muscle their way into virtually every city, even when local regulations didn’t always allow them to operate there. Unsurprisingly, the FAA wasn’t going to just let this one go. Even though the Flytenow team says it plans to look into ways to appeal this decision, it seems rather unlikely that the FAA’s rules around flightsharing will get disrupted anytime soon.
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