It’s a dream of many aspiring pilots to earn their private pilot license and have the freedom to fly their friends and family.

But as a private pilot, there are a few restrictions that you will have to deal with and a couple of other things you should know when it comes to carrying passengers.

Number of Passengers a Private Pilot Can Carry

The number of passengers a private pilot can carry is completely dependent on the aircraft. However many passengers an aircraft can legally carry is the maximum limit.

This gives private pilots a lot of freedom when it comes to flying, whether that be planning for a family vacation, or giving a couple of friends a quick scenic tour.

Carrying Passengers at Night

Yes, as a private pilot you can carry passengers at night, but only if you have made three takeoffs and landings as pilot of command in an aircraft of the same category and class within the preceding 90 days

Flying Passengers Internationally

One of the best privileges of a private pilot license is that you have the freedom of flying internationally.

As long as you comply with any international requirements of the country you are flying into, you are not limited in any way.

Maximum Weight Limit for Carrying Passengers

If you are a private pilot who holds at least a third-class medical certificate, there is no explicit maximum weight limit you must adhere to, although you may require additional training/certifications to be able to operate heavier aircraft (greater than 12,500 lbs).

If you are a private pilot who is flying under Basic Med, you are limited to a maximum weight limit of 6,000 lbs. You are also only able to carry a maximum of 5 passengers.

Private Pilot vs. Other License Passenger Limits

Sport and recreational pilot license holders can legally carry just one passenger. These licenses are also met with additional limitations, including only being able to operate a very limited number of aircraft, and not being able to fly at night.

With such restrictions, it’s no surprise that many pilots opt to spend the extra time, money, and effort to get a PPL.

Can Private Pilots Take Payment for Carrying Passengers?

As a private pilot, you are not able to work for hire – i.e. you cannot be paid to carry passengers or cargo. A commercial pilot license is required for that.

However, you can share the cost of flight-related expenses with passengers. Using a pro-rata distribution of costs, you can share airport expenditures, fuel, oil, and aircraft rental fees.

See Also: How Many Passengers Can a Plane Hold?

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.