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What Should Be Contained in the Policy?
An employee pilot policy should address several key points that will benefit both the employee and the company.
First, both the company and the pilot should have a clear understanding of what is permitted under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), particularly with regard to reimbursement for the flights conducted and whether or not passengers will be carried on the aircraft. These issues are described in great detail in an NBAA resource titled “Introduction to Reimbursement of Flight Expenses for Owner-Pilots,” but you should also familiarize yourself with the appropriate FARs.
Safety and Risk Management
Two of the first questions that a company may ask are whether the policy will be safe for the employee pilot and whether the policy will increase the potential liability for the company.
The truth is that the safety record for business aviation is excellent, with accident and fatality rates having remained at very low levels for the past several decades. Improved flight training techniques, focused pre-flight preparation, the use of checklists, and a host of other pilot skills and preparation tools have contributed to this impressive safety record. You should be certain to obtain recurrent training and exercise best practices to help ensure your safe operation.
However, despite this impressive record, companies will need to ensure that their interests are protected in the unlikely event of an incident or accident. This protection will likely encompass insurance coverage and a review of their legal liability. NBAA recommends that companies obtain a non-owned aircraft liability insurance policy and that the employee add the company as an additional insured on his or her aircraft insurance policy.
Proper Use of the Policy
While most employee pilots have productive and positive reasons for desiring to use general aviation aircraft for business purposes, there is the potential for some to misuse the policy. As a result, it will be a benefit to the company, and to you, to lay out clear policies and expectations. It is also likely that your employer is going to desire oversight of the program. Many times, this can be accomplished by utilizing the employer’s own flight department personnel. But, in the event that a flight department is not available, the employer may want to make arrangements with outside aviation professionals to provide oversight of the program.
Finally, your employer is probably going to consult with the accounting department in order to create appropriate costreporting and reimbursement mechanisms. Because there is going to be a significant focus on a cost/benefit analysis of the potential employee pilot program, it is necessary to provide documentation that it is being used appropriately and that it is, indeed, providing value for the company.