Do you wish you could avoid the hassles of flying commercial, but don’t have the deep pockets to own a personal jet?
Flytenow and Airpooler, Uber for skies, make it possible or passengers to hitch a flight with private pilots and share the costs. However, as with ride sharing, government is stepping in to clip the wings of competition in the flight industry.
Last summer the FAA effectively shut down these services accusing them of dodging extra requirements of pilots, but they are fighting back in federal appeals court in hopes that the FAA will back down.
Apparently with Flytenow passengers aren’t charged for their service, just for expenses to fly. Flytenow has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which doesn’t buy the argument arguing that a private pilot becomes an airline when he lists a flight plan online so that passengers to hop onto. As with other augments for regulating sharing economy companies, the federal government claims this is an issue of public safety.
Advocates for flight sharing say this is a way for pilots to deal with ballooning costs of operation especially post-recession when private flights plummeted. Passengers benefit from short trips at more reasonable costs. The only difference between flight sharing and traditional plane charters is that the arrangements are made online.
Once again, we see technology leapfrogging ahead of current regulations leaving policymakers scrambling to figure out how to clip the wings of progress.
In court papers, Justice Department attorneys portray the regulations as a matter of public safety. The rules “reflect in part the fact that it is difficult for members of the public to evaluate the safety qualifications of pilots they do not know, making it critical for the government to regulate stringently the qualifications of pilots providing transportation to the general public,” they wrote.
But the Web casts a much broader net than a local flying club’s corkboard, as the FAA’s government lawyers note in their court filings. Anyone can register for membership on the site, they said, adding that there’s no sign the company has ever denied access to anyone. That means private pilots could reach a wider pool of prospective passengers than ever before.
Flytenow and AirPooler’s business models rely on their interpretation of an FAA expense-sharing rule, which provides an exception to the general ban on private pilots accepting money for flights. The rule allows the pilots to accept the passengers’ fair share of the flight costs, as long as the pilots are the ones deciding the itinerary…
But the government sees the exception as geared toward pilots shuttling friends and acquaintances, in which the “passengers are more likely to know the pilots in question, providing at least some basis for evaluating the safety of accompanying the pilot on the flight,” the Justice Department lawyers wrote.
Technology and innovation drive the sharing economy – the collection of peer-to-peer on-demand and shared service companies. We, the consumers, benefit from nifty new services to meet our unique needs. The options are only going to grow as Americans create new services and goods to make life easier, safer, cheaper, and better.
Government is far from innovative or effective and instead of allowing the private market to do so, chooses to stand in the way as a means of retaining control and concentrating power in the hands of those who lobby them. As we’ve seen with the taxicab industry pushing government to regulate ridesharing and the hotel industry using government to regulate room sharing, any time established industry sees a new business enter the market, instead of competing fairly by offering new services and goods that retain their customers or attract new ones, they lobby federal, state and municipal government to change the rules in their favor and lock out new competition.
The U.S. economy is the largest in the world. We didn’t rise to this level because of government intervention but despite government intervention. Entrepreneurs and small business are the engines that make our economy go and grow, generating jobs and improving the lives of every person on our shores in some way.
When we see new examples of the government stifling market creativity, we must do more than just question it. We must challenge it and remind policymakers that there role is not to ground innovation, but to allow the ingenuity of Americans to unleash innovation.