FlyBlackBird.com: Yet another desires to be the Uber of the Skies

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by AggieMike88, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    https://www.flyblackbird.com

    https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/12/f...es-10-million-to-replace-driving-with-flying/

    The /r/flying subreddit is becoming very active on this topic. https://goo.gl/tmg5VF

    And I just looked to see about a DTO to AUS trip.... For 3 people, only one aircraft type was available and that was a PA-28R-200, Piper Arrow. Cost? $1350 for the 3 folks.

    Website says "Make up to $75/hr flying on your schedule". So for that flight, one way is about 1.5 hours, meaning that if start and taxi + land and taxi time is included, the pilot makes maybe $325.00. No data yet on how aircraft costs are dealt with.


    From the app reviews, it appears that some flights might have occurred already. But it's difficult to tell if what is posted is fake reviews and spam or actual flights.

    One item from the FAQ submitted as an example of their "view" of things....

    Who is operating my flight?

    Updated over a week ago

    You'll see all available flight times once you've selected a route and date. If a Part 135 charter operator is operating a flight, you'll see their name listed under the departure time, along with the aircraft being flown. Most shared flights, however, are flights created by BlackBird guests who are sharing their empty seats. These flights are flown by commercially rated pilots in FAA-regulated aircraft, all rented from a flight school or flying club. ​


    There are other items scattered in the site that hint at them being a booking agent for a legit 135 operation, since some trip requests might be matched up with JetSuiteX or similar operator.

    But Blackbird continues to promote connecting the requesting public with an aircraft and pilot outside of 135 ops.


    Let the poking of holes begin.
     
  2. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Shouldn't take the FAA long to figure it out. Lots of would be software and app developers that want to be the next Uber, and see aviation as an untapped resource. They usually aren't aviation minded and don't realize there are regulations involved, or are aviation minded but think they have found the magic loophole. Just like all the people that post online about how to get hours for free as a private pilot.
     
  3. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Do they specifically say this is a part 91 op? By the looks of it, it appears to try and duplicate a part 135 air taxi like what Imagine Air was doing. Good business plan but bad management.
     
  4. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Specifically? Not from what I have found on their site? Hint at it, yeah.... But as I learn the ins/outs of AC 120-12A, I think they are navigating real close to the cliff edge...

    It appears as if they just want to be the agent, pairing the requesting passenger with the supplying pilot. So it could be their view that they are just the broker and not subject to the holding out rules. I'm thinking that if any breakage of the holding out rules happens, Blackbird will say, "Not us!" and throw the pilot under the bus.
     
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  5. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just got the following email from these con artists.

    Code:
     Hi JAMES,
     
    Great to e-meet you. I’m the Head of Operations at BlackBird, the company behind America’s largest network of private flights. We connect pilots, passengers, aircraft, and local airports to bring people the freedom of flight. 
     
    I’m reaching out because you’re an ideal candidate for our Aircraft Owners Program. Here’s how the program works:
    BlackBird gets you a top aircraft manager.
    We rent out your aircraft when you're not using it.
    You get paid.
    Sign up now and you’ll get an additional $1,000 bonus for the first flight. From there, you’ll earn another $2,500 bonus if your aircraft flies 100+ hours in the first three months with BlackBird.
     
    We’d love to have you onboard. If you’d like to learn more about the program, submit your information on our website and we’ll get back to you shortly to talk details.
     
    Questions? Email us at aop@flyblackbird.com.
     
    Thanks for your time,
     
    Brian Nichols
    Head of Operations
    BlackBird Air
    My response?

    No.

    He!! No

    No way I’m renting my plane out to these folks to let someone else fly it...


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  6. AnthonyS1

    AnthonyS1 Pre-Flight

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    Wouldnt your own personal aircraft need to be on part 135 to make this legal? Also I would think just like uber, the owners would also be the pilots/drivers... no one wants someone else to fly their airplane.

    Awesome concept but I fear it's still ahead of its time.
     
  7. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Cleared for Takeoff

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    I just came here to post about blackbird. It’s my understanding that a commercial pilot can legally fly someone somewhere if that person provides the aircraft. One service providing a plane and pilot to an individual certainly seems to be putting this in the 135 realm.

    My guess is that they will get shut down and if I was a commercial pilot I wouldn’t feel comfortable providing my piloting services to blackbird due to the legality of the operation.
     
  8. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m getting a bit of a clue of how these guys might be trying to skirt the regs. As an instrument rated commercial pilot, I’m allowed to get paid for flying passengers in a plane that they procure, either by renting it or owning it themselves. What I’m not allowed to do is to hold out that I’m available to be hired to fly someone in my plane somewhere (with some narrow exceptions) unless I have a commercial operators certificate.

    In the email from these guys, they are asking me both to be available as a pilot and also to rent my plane. Maybe they are looking to have pilot-plane swapping? Say a passenger wants to go to Tahoe. The passenger rents pilot A’s airplane and gets pilot B to fly them in pilot A’s plane. Then someone else could rent pilot B’s plane and get pilot A to fly them. Neither pilot is flying their own plane, so they aren’t being commercial operators.

    At least that is how I interpreted the email. I still think it is skirting very, very close to the edge, and it certainly fails the smell test.

    I certainly am declining to participate... I didn’t buy my plane to make money. Lord knows... And I certainly don’t want anyone else flying it. My prediction? This company might make some money for the founders as they use up their (chump) investor’s money, but it certainly won’t last long.


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  9. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    Really doesn't matter if it's legal or not. I don't believe our airplanes are appealing to the general public. There won't be enough demand for this group to survive.
     
  10. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    They appear to be trying to work under Part 91(K) by doing what @jimhorner shared (they manage the aircraft and put "their" pilot in it when the ride demand occurs) ..... but I agree with him, very few owners are going to let some stranger operate their aircraft under this concept.

    @jimhorner ... sorta wish you'd say "send me the info and contract" so that you could post both here for us to see what additional details they are attempting.
     
  11. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    And if that is what they are doing, Blackbird is still the grand facilitator providing an aircraft and pilot, although through a backdoor. Still not a legal operation. The FAA will be along shortly.
     
  12. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @AggieMike88.

    Probably too late for me to get the info. My “He!! no” response probably nixed that. However, it’s certainly possible for someone to go their website and get the info. Would be interesting.

    https://www.flyblackbird.com/plane-ownership


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  13. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oh, and I get a “Top Aircraft Manager” Can’t imagine why I turned em down.. After all, I’m clearly not qualified to make sure my pride and joy is well taken care of...



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  14. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    This won't fly. You can't fool the judge. S/he knows the passenger is buying transportation not assuming operational control of the aircraft. Who pays for insurance? Hangar? Maintenance? When the passenger makes those purchase decisions rather than just what time to depart or arrive, maybe.
     
  15. AnthonyS1

    AnthonyS1 Pre-Flight

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    Have flights actually been operating on this? Or is this just the startup/marketing phase?
     
  16. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    When you read some of the reviews on the Apple App Store, some read as if they writer has been on a Blackbird flight. If the review is legit and real or total fakery (like Jerry W's youtube vids) is yet to be determined.
     
  17. Scholt78

    Scholt78 Filing Flight Plan

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    This thing is still going on? I'm shocked the FAA hasn't shut it down yet. Like others have said, it seems they're trying to keep the pilot and plane separate from an AC120-12 standpoint, but it's still Blackbird that's facilitating the plane on demand... that sounds like a 135 operation.

    Honestly, I'd love for this concept to work, but I'm struggling to see how this is legal let alone safe.
     
  18. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Cleared for Takeoff

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    Isn’t 91K fractional ownership? I haven’t seen anything in the documentation supporting any ownership.
     
  19. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    May have the citation incorrect
     
  20. rocketflyer84

    rocketflyer84 Line Up and Wait

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    This will likely quickly get shut down soon. Rent someone your plane so they can claim to be just hiring you to fly them in their plane? Creative, but no.
     
  21. RudyP

    RudyP Line Up and Wait

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    It appears that they are taking advantage of the following:
    - it is legal for someone to hire a commercial pilot to fly them in an airplane the hirer (not the pilot) provides under part 91
    - it is legal for an airplane owner to lease out their airplane to a third party if the third party flies themselves or hires their own commercial pilot
    - blackbird is arranging two independent services that happen to coincide into a single point to point flight.

    They have $10m of funding from a legit VC that isn’t easily fooled so they probably aren’t being completely naive about the regs.

    That all being said, the FAA is king of the air and they may decide that while there isn’t currently an FAR being directly violated, this conflating of two technically legal things ends up violating the spirit of the FARs and write up a new ref or opinion that kills the concept.
     
  22. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 Pattern Altitude

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    I can’t wait to hear what my insurance underwriter thinks of this :)


    Tom
     
  23. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I think this is the key..when Blackbird arranges both, it becomes a Part 135 operation.
     
  24. CMongoose

    CMongoose Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There was a Forbes article earlier in the week discussing the funding

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/bizcar...-road-trips-with-flying-private/#137036272590

    The paragraph that caught my eye was:

    I can't see how that would be anything but a Part 135 operation.
     
  25. RudyP

    RudyP Line Up and Wait

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    But you can see how that might be open to interpretation. Generally when two things are legal independently they stay legal when you do both. There are some exceptions of course. It is legal to have sex with a stranger and it is legal to gift someone $500 but combine the two and you have prostitution...

    It will be interesting to follow this one.
     
  26. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    This is exactly the interpretation that shut down FlyteNow. The company was holding out to the general public, providing both pilot and airplane.
     
  27. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just for fun I downloaded the app, from the users point of view you have to select and airplane and a pilot, but to me it looks like it's 100% going to run afoul of the regulations since from the user's point of view it's blackbird offering the service, no matter what the actual Terms and Conditions state.
     
  28. RudyP

    RudyP Line Up and Wait

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    I hear you and generally agree but I wonder if they are thinking that some technicalities will create a loophole. For example, blackbird could set up independent legal entities to independently provide the the pilot match and the plane match. Blackbird the company itself is merely an app that interacts with the customer and match-makes the two independent companies. No legal entity is directly providing both services.

    Clearly that is in the realm of abiding by the letter rather than the spirit of the law but legal entities and complex financial structures are commonplace in other areas (eg financial institutions, tax shelters etc) and manage to persist despite regulators trying their hardest to maximize tax $$$ collected.
     
  29. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I’m sure they’re thinking they’ve found a loophole, just like everybody else who thought they found a loophole.
     
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  30. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Using similar logic, I could create an LLC for my aircraft. You rent the aircraft from the LLC (not me from a legal standpoint), then you hire me to fly it.

    Exactly. The FAA is wise to those that try to subvert Part 135 through some kind of legal shenanigans. There is always someone who thinks they have found the secret door, but it never works.
     
  31. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I found some of these jokers’ terms of service.

    Here’s a link to the pilot agreement: https://www.flyblackbird.com/pilot-services-agreement

    A real doozy in there:

    1.03 Control of Pilot. Pilot shall be, and shall acknowledge that s/he shall be, under the exclusive direction and control of Operator for the Requested Flight. Operator acknowledges and agrees that Pilot’s services are only for the operation of the Aircraft under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (“FARs”).



    1.04 Operational Control.



    (a) Operator warrants to Pilot that the Requested Flight of the Aircraft shall be within the "Operational Control" of Operator and not Pilot. Operational Control includes, but is not limited to, possession, command, and, except for the independent obligations of the Pilot under the FARs, exclusive control over:


    So the passenger has operational control of the pilot? Riiiight.


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  32. jimhorner

    jimhorner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And here’s the aircraft lease agreement:
    https://www.flyblackbird.com/aircraft-lease-agreement

    ARTICLE 3: OPERATION OF AIRCRAFT BY LESSEE

    3.1. Operational Control. During each individual Rental Period, Lessee is and shall be the sole operator of the Aircraft and has operational control of the Aircraft in conjunction with Lessee’s pilots. During each Rental Period, Lessee is responsible for operating the Aircraft in accordance and compliance with all laws, ordinances and regulations relating to the possession, use, operation, or maintenance of the Aircraft, including, but not limited to, the current Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR’s) Operational Control shall be as defined in 14 C.F.R. § 1.1, and for purpose of this Agreement and with respect to all flights conducted, means the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting or terminating a flight. Lessee shall (i) at its sole expense, locate and retain, through direct employment or independent contract for flight services, a duly qualified flight crew and select the pilot in command and (ii) be responsible for all physical and technical aspects of operating the Aircraft on the flight, including but not limited to review of all documentation to confirm all required maintenance has been performed, flight planning, fueling, weight and balance calculations, handling, communications and all other operations, such as to oversee the Pilot in Command.


    So these bozos want me to rent my aircraft to a non pilot who will have “Operational control” and choose the pilot? As I responded to their email asking me to rent them my plane. No, HellNo..


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  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    They’re defining their newly-discovered loophole.
     
  34. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    They still use the obsolete term (at least for aviation regs) "FAR", so their lawyers my be from the B team (should say "14 CFR part 91", FAR acronym is different under Code of Federal Regulations.)
     
  35. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    I can see one interesting issue, and that's the "house take". (If you have a bunch of guys playing poker, and someone wins $100K, it's tax free—unless the house takes a cut, then it's reportable income.)
    In this case, it appears that the house takes a cut (as they must, if they wish to show a profit), so a customer is not merely renting a plane, and hiring a pilot.
     
  36. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's tax free as long as the winner is willing to commit criminal tax fraud. We call that a felony. Further, a gambling house, even one that doesn't rake the pot or not. The requirement stems from them handling the money at all.

    Anyhow, this is also entirely immaterial to the situation.

    The FAA has held and the CAB before that, that if you advertise out to the public for air service, even if you are merely brokering other providers, you are a commercial operator.
     
  37. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Illegal as all get out. Someone is pulling a fast one to take some investment money.
     
  38. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, because I'm telling the IRS that when I play poker with my buddies that I won. Like anyone is going to do that. Also, how do you trace cash?
     
  39. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Yeah, Ed, but I'd bet if you robbed banks for a living you'd report the income. ;)
     
  40. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Only on Facebook! :D