Buckeye to U.S. Supreme Court: Why are Europe's skies freer than America's skies?

Jul 29, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Pilots have more freedom to "Uber up in the air" in Europe than they do in America because of a 2015 order by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Today, The Buckeye Institute's Legal Center urged the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse the FAA's backward interpretation of the law and unleash the potential of the sharing economy.

For decades, the FAA's "Expense-Sharing Rule" allowed private airplane pilots to post their flight plans on bulletin boards, enabling passengers to join their flights by sharing fuel costs. When Flytenow, Inc. put that practice online, the FAA deemed it illegal, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld by deferring to the agency. Buckeye's legal brief challenges that ruling.

"Being home to the Wright brothers, we're proud to represent Ohio at the U.S. Supreme Court and bring American flight into the 21st century," Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said. "If Europeans can have 'Uber up in the air' so, too, should Americans benefit from such cost-sharing services."

In Flytenow, Inc. v. Federal Aviation Administration, The Buckeye Institute's brief argues that the FAA's order is arbitrary, antiquated, and inconsistent with its longstanding "Expense-Sharing Rule" for non-commercial flights.

"Why should pilots be able to speak on index cards but not on the internet?" Alt asked. "The only place this kind of rule makes sense is in a federal agency."

Flytenow, Inc. has discontinued its operations since the Court of Appeals' ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to take the case after it reconvenes in October.

UPDATE: Cert denied by the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.