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Commercial op's has always been a thorny issue for me, perhaps a more seasoned person could weigh in on this issue.


I know someone interested in becoming a private helicopter pilot for the purposes of operating a helicopter from a yacht.


What would he be able to do with said helicopter as only a private pilot, or say he went on to get his commercial as well.


For example, would he be able to pick people up from shore and transport them to the boat? I assumed no, without a 135 cert, but then I wondered if that was not incidental to the business, and thus allowed.


If he also took customers on that yacht and went sightseeing in that helicopter would he have to register as a tour operator?


Also what if the yacht was a privately owned one, and not a business, would anything change?


Obviously I am going to advise him to contact an aviation lawyer, as I do not want him to pay for training and find out he can't do what he intended to do, but if anyone has any thoughts I'd love to hear them!


Thanks for reading.

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If its his boat and helicopter he can take those people out on either under part 91 as a private pilot as long as they aren't paying.


If he takes them on the boat and charges them he needs a USCG Merchant Mariners license, and depending on number of passengers, a USCG Letter of Inspection for the vessel.


If he charges for the helicopter tours, then he will need his comm. and possibly a 135 certificate.


Bottom line he can get away with all of it as long as he isn't taking money for the boat or helicopter ride. It'd be like buddies going out on the lake.


If my company owns a yacht and a helicopter and we are taking customers out for a party, then we can fly them out to the boat, this falls under part 91 corporate operations.


Insurance-wise though there are bound to be lots of restrictions...


Local restrictions may apply...

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He can fly under part 91 and make them pay up to half the operating costs of the helicopter and he pays for the other half...(50/50). He would need a commercial certificate and part 135 single pilot certificate if he were to give tours from land and then land at the yacht and let people off. If there were no stops and it was within a 25 mile radius then he would be covered under part 119.1(e)(6), but this still requires the commercial certificate. I do not know about the charging for the yacht stuff. Good luck



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He can fly under part 91 and make them pay up to half the operating costs of the helicopter and he pays for the other half...(50/50).


The problem I see with that is the lack of a "common purpose".


This article sums it up pretty well.




"The sole purpose of the flight may not be to provide

transportation to the passengers. This has been my interpretation for many

years. In recent years, the FAA has been taking a more restrictive view. The FAA

says not only must the pilot be going on the flight for his or her own purpose, but

the purpose must be "common" with the passengers."


The article is a little old, but in school I was thought this.

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If it all works out with just a private cert, insurance may be an issue with an inexperienced pilot working from a yacht.


I sure as hell wouldn't get in a helicopter taking off and landing on a yacht with an inexperienced private pilot at the controls. He would be better off doing his commercial for the training anyway!

Edited by Trans Lift
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