kamal

FAA Drone License & The Single Member LLC

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Good day fellow pilots.

A few months ago I successfully sat for the FAA Commercial sUAS License.

I Now have started a new Single Member Limited Liability Company (SMLLC) centered around drone applications.

In discussions with my attorney he suggested that my FAA license (which is issued in my name) should now reflect the name of the SMLLC. The rationale being that it will be myself as the SMLLC who is piloting the drone.

I understand the principle; which is that an SMLLC is designed to limit the single member's liability but to accomplish that objective,  every effort should be made to clearly establish a boundary between the SMLLC and self (separate bank account, separate checkbook, ....)

 

1- Has any other commercial drone pilot has been similarly advised ?

2- Has your FAA License been discussed during formation of a commercial entity?

2- Has the FAA established a process to account for a SMLLC ?

Thoughts ?

Thanks

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You are certificated, not any entity.  Is your driver's license issued in the name of your company?  Nope.  Same with pilot/operator certification.

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Thank you Dave ,

You know, that was exactly my initial reaction.

The pilot's license attests to my personal skills. I believe the advice i am getting has the objective of clearly separating my person from the SMLLC.

With the proliferation of new drone businesses, i was hoping to hear from quite a few entrepreneurs who might have gone through this process.

Thank you again. 

 

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Kamal.  Your agent or whatever is getting you confused.

Maybe this will help.  You can establish a drone company and not be FAA certificated yourself.  You could simply hire operators that have earned their part 107 certificate.  So the company itself holds no certificate.

However.  every individual your company hires to operate drones must hold a certificate.  If you are operating for your company, you must hold a certificate.  Your certificate, or the certificate of any employee operator do not belong to the company.

It's the same way with manned aviation.  When a pilot flies for an airline, the pilot's certificate is in their respective name.  They earn it and the airline does not have a pilot's certificate in their name.

Hopefully this makes it easier for you and who ever is your "professional" adviser to understand.

Best of luck.

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Dave, very sensible and clear response.  I agree with you.

Kamal, I’m not an attorney, but I am a Part 107 pilot, a PE practicing in several states, and I have a corporation, so I can  share the following with you based on my experience and discussions with various attorneys.

One reason to incorporate may be to help “shield” personal assets from corporate liabilities; however, if the corporation doesn’t have deep enough pockets, the “shield” doesn’t work. Your personal assets will still be at risk. I don’t know how much the corporation has to be worth for the shield to be effective, but it’s probably a lot considering how large settlements can be.  When things go bad, plaintiffs follow the money and go after the deepest pockets. 

Based on this, for a small, lightly funded, sUAS-related corporation, it is likely that the assets of the corporation and the owner(s) will be at risk until the corporation has enough assets to shield the owner(s).  In any case, as Dave alluded to, the licensed pilot(s) working for the corporation will always be at risk as Pilot In Command (PIC).

The best protection for all parties involved (corporation, owner, pilot, and public) is for the corporation to carry adequate insurance.  Unless the PIC has deep pockets, or is flying recklessly or is willfully negligent, his/her employer’s corporate attorney(s) will likely represent them, and the corporate insurance should offer him/her some protection. Never fly without insurance!

Finally, your attorney suggesting that your SMLLC can be licensed as PIC seems to be bad advice if not an error. We all make mistakes.  In any case, you should discuss what you learn here with an attorney, but as owner/PIC, you are ultimately responsible regardless of the advice you get and follow.

Good luck.

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Earthman,

Thank you for your insights.

Yours and Dave's comments, together with those from the helpful folks at uashelp@faa.gov (1-844-fly-myua) have helped considerably as I work through the issue of launching a business.

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