The 139 NPRM
Overview of proposed revisions to certificated airport requirements
By Bobbi Thompson, Consultant
The proposed rulemaking would revise and clarify safety and operational requirements that have become outdated, or changes that are needed to update regulatory requirements to today’s practices and technology. FAA expects to release the final rule November 1, followed by a Congressional review.
The proposed rulemaking presents certain changes for existing Part 139 airports and establishes certification requirements for airports serving scheduled air carriers in aircraft with 10 to 30 seats (currently above 30 seats). The proposed rules will have associated costs in almost all areas, and airport sponsors are advised to carefully read and understand the implications for their airports. Communication with the FAA Regional Airports Division Office and an in-depth review of the proposed rule is highly recommended.
The issuance of airport operating certificates began in 1970 and was intended to establish minimum safety standards for airports serving certain air carriers. This authority can be found in Title 49, United States Code (U.S.C.) section 44706, Airport Operating Certificates. This statutory authority was limited to land airports serving air carriers with scheduled service using aircraft that have a seating capacity of more than 30 seats.
Under existing rules, the Federal Aviation Administration issues two types of airport operating certificates depending on the type air carrier operations an airport serves:
• An Airport Operating Certifi-cate (AOC) "full" certificate is issued to airports that regularly serve large air carrier operations and requires the airport operators to comply fully with all Part 139 requirements. Of the approximately 660 certificated airports, some 430 hold a "full" certificate.
• Airport operators serving only unscheduled operations of large air carrier aircraft are required to have a Limited Airport Operating Certificate (LOAC), known as a "limited" certificate. Approximately 135 airport operators hold a "limited" certificate.
The remaining certificated airports (about 90) are Department of Defense airports serving air carrier operations. These facilities are issued an air operating certificate but are exempted from Part 139 requirements (FAA Exemption No. 5750B).
The proposed rules would require about 120 of the current LOAC airports to implement the existing safety requirements in Part 139 on a more frequent basis and comply with additional safety measures. Existing Certification Manuals at AOC airports would need to be revised to comply with the proposed modifications. In addition, 50 of the current "full" Part 139 airports may be required to implement certain safety measures more frequently.
The proposed rulemaking recommends that all airports be certified as an AOC and have the same manual type certification manuals. Currently, each Part 139 certificated airport is required to prepare and comply with a written compliance document that establishes site-specific procedures, equipment, and personnel used to comply with Part 139 requirements.
At a full certification airport the document is called an Airport Certification Manual; at a limited certification airport it is called Airport Certification Specifications. Under the proposal requirements, the manuals would have some variances depending on the proposed new airport classification categories.
If the proposal is adopted, each airport serving air carrier operations within the parameters of the new proposal should contact the FAA Regional Airports Division Office to initiate the application process. This office will interview the airport operator about current and anticipated operations and then make a determination if a certificate is necessary.
If a certificate is required, an application (FAA Form 5280-1) will need to be filled out and a certification manual prepared. Holders of airport operating certificates would not be required to reapply; the FAA would convert existing certificates as appropriate.