Guidance

Definition (Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 40102. Definitions) (Subparagraph (a)(41))
Public Aircraft” means any of the following:

  • (A) Except with respect to an aircraft described in subparagraph (E), an aircraft used only for the United States Government, except as provided in section 40125(b).
  • (B) An aircraft owned by the Government and operated by any person for purposes related to crew training, equipment development, or demonstration, except as provided in section 40125(b).
  • (C) An aircraft owned and operated by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments, except as provided in section 40125(b).
  • (D) An aircraft exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments, except as provided in section 40125(b).
  • (E) An aircraft owned or operated by the armed forces or chartered to provide transportation or other commercial air service to the armed forces under the conditions specified by section 40125(c). In the preceding sentence, the term “other commercial air service” means an aircraft operation that (i) is conducted within the United States territorial airspace; (ii) the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration determines is available for compensation or hire to the public, and (iii) must comply with all applicable civil aircraft rules under title 14, Code of Federal Regulations.

Eligibility (Title 49 U.S.C. § 40125. Qualifications for Public Aircraft Status)

  • GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION – The term ‘governmental function’ means an activity undertaken by a government, such as national defense, intelligence missions, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement (including transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens), aeronautical research, or biological or geological resource management.
  • QUALIFIED NON-CREWMEMBER – The term ‘qualified non-crewmember’ means an individual, other than a member of the crew, aboard an aircraft –
    • (A) operated by the armed forces or an intelligence agency of the United States Government; or
    • (B) whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function.
  • An aircraft described in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) of section 40102(a)(41) does not qualify as a public aircraft under such section when the aircraft is used for commercial purposes (performing a non governmental function) or to carry an individual other than a crewmember or a qualified non-crewmember.

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