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How Does the FAA Define a Dry Lease?

By October 10, 2018July 4th, 2021No Comments
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Do you know what a dry lease means to the FAA?  Many people believe it means a lease of an aircraft without fuel.  However, the real definition of a dry lease is a lease of an aircraft without any crew.  A dry lease doesn’t have anything to do with liquids, it is determined by whether the lessor provides any pilots to the lessee.


Wet Lease

A “wet lease” is what you get if the aircraft lessor provides crew with the aircraft.  A wet lease is generally not a Part 91 operation.


FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-37B Defines Dry Lease

For the skeptics about this definition of a dry lease, check out the FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-37B.  Paragraph 5 states “Leasing of an aircraft without the crew is considered to be a dry lease.”


FAA Chief Counsel Legal Interpretations Define Dry Lease

Those of you needing further support will appreciate digging into legal interpretations issued by the Office of the Chief Counsel of the FAA in Washington, D.C.  From 2009, there is an interpretation issued to Mr. Douglas which states that “a dry lease of an aircraft is one in which the owner provides the aircraft and the lessee supplies his or her own flight crew and retains operational control of the flight.”

In 2011 the FAA’s Office of the Chief Counsel issued a written interpretation to Mr. Johnson.  The interpretation states that “In general, the FAA recognizes two general types of leases – wet leases and dry leases.  A dry lease of an aircraft is one in which the owner provides the aircraft and the lessee supplies his or her own flight crew and retains operational control of the flight.”

The FAA’s definition of dry lease as a lease of an aircraft without crew continues to be referenced in written interpretations from the FAA’s office of the Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C.  In 2017, a written interpretation was issued to Mr. Mansour and that interpretation evaluated a complex structure with detailed information about the source of the pilot for the flights to determine if the lease was a dry lease which allowed the aircraft to be operated under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. 

Even straightforward FAA regulatory issues can be complex.  The help of an attorney experienced in business aviation can help reduce costs and ensure regulatory compliance.


Michelle M. Wade is a Partner with the aviation law firm of Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A. and counsel clients on the acquisition, financing and operation of corporate jets operated under Part 91 and Part 135 of the US Federal Aviation Regulations. Jetstream Aviation Law can be found at

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