Differences Between Commercial and Private Aircraft Law

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michael E. Trauscht with The Law Office Of Michael Trauscht.

Differences Between Commercial and Private Aircraft Law
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Air travel has become an increasingly popular method of travel, especially over long distances. However, with the advent of air travel came the need for rules and regulations designed to protect passengers and pilots from what might otherwise be catastrophic scenarios. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publishes and updates industry regulations for both commercial and private aircraft. Failure to follow FAA regulations can result in costly and traumatic accidents for everyone involved.

One of the main similarities between commercial and private aircraft law is that both types of pilots owe a duty of care to their passengers. A duty of care refers to the legal responsibility one party has toward another to act in ways which ensure a reasonable level of safety. If you or a loved one were injured or killed in an aviation accident, seek legal counsel to learn about your options for both physical and financial recovery.

Private aircraft, referred to as Part 91, are held to different rules than commercial or Part 135 aircraft.

Significant differences between private and commercial aircraft include but are not limited to the items below:

  • While pilots of both private and commercial aircraft are required to have insurance, the type of insurance may differ.
  • Aircraft maintenance requirements may differ between private and commercial aircraft.
  • Reporting and security requirements may differ between private and commercial aircraft
  • In a private aircraft, the pilot in command is directly responsible and therefore liable for the way an aircraft is operated.
  • In order to transport passengers or cargo, a pilot must undergo additional commercial training, even if flying an otherwise private aircraft.
  • Commercial aircraft must be operated by a pilot with a commercial certificate.
  • Regulations for treatment of crew on board a private aircraft tend to be far more lax than those on a commercial aircraft. Crew on a commercial aircraft are more likely to be given adequate rest breaks.
  • Private aircraft may be allowed to take off in zero visibility in certain conditions, while commercial aircraft may not.

The pilot is likely to be liable after an accident unless a third-party or airline was significantly involved.

Just like in a car accident, if a pilot’s negligent behavior or poor decision-making skills causes an accident, the private aircraft pilot is likely to be held liable for resulting damages. However, if a third-party such as a manufacturer or maintenance provider can be linked to the cause of the accident, liability may fall there as well.

Additionally, when an accident occurs involving a commercial aircraft, even more parties are involved, which means liability may be split even further. For example, when an accident occurs involving commercial aircraft, not only might the above parties be considered liable, but airport operators and even the government could be considered liable if an accident occurred due to a mistake on their part.

If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a private or commercial aircraft, seek legal counsel from an aviation attorney. Aviation accidents can be notoriously complex with multiple parties involved, especially if the aircraft involved was commercial. Most of these attorneys offer free consultations and can discuss your eligibility for compensation after an aviation tragedy.

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