The 139 NPRM

The 139 NPRM

Overview of proposed revisions to certificated airport requirements

By Bobbi Thompson, Consultant

May 2001

The proposed rulemaking would revise and clarify safety and operational requirements that have become outdated, or changes that are needed to update regulatory requirements to today’s practices and technology.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.

Differentiating Airports By Class
The FAA does intend to distinguish between airports that serve different sizes or types of aircraft under the new proposal. Airports would be grouped into four new classes, I through IV, and specific requirements are proposed for each new class of airport. The intent of this approach is to ensure that airports serving small air carriers or unscheduled air carrier operations are not unduly burdened with the requirements proposed for more complex airport operations.
The following applies to all airports except airports operated by U.S. government agencies and certain airports in Alaska:
Class I. Serves all types of air carrier operations; must comply with all requirements.
Class II. Serves scheduled operations of air carrier operations with aircraft having 10 to 30 seats and non-scheduled operation of large aircraft.
Class III. Serves only scheduled operations of air carriers with aircraft having 10-30 seats.
Class IV. Serving unscheduled air carriers with aircraft having more than 30 seats.

Bobbi Thompson serves as executive vice president of Atlanta-based Airport Business Solutions and manager of the firm’s Florida office. Bobbi has spent 30 years in the aviation industry and her tenure has included airport management, FBO ownership/management, world record pilot, and director positions with several aviation organizations. She can be reached at (941) 573-9647.

Class Specifics - Breaking Down the Part 139 Changes

A quick reference to additional proposed changes to Federal Aviation Regulation Part 139

Class I Airports
• Personnel provisions – A recordkeeping system and new personnel training standards
• ARFF – New recurrency training, fire extinguishing agent, and HAZMAT response standard; increased frequency of ARFF coverage (where ARFF is not covered for small or carrier operations)
• HAZMAT handling/storage – Standards for air carrier fueling operations; additional fuel fire safety and personnel training standards
• Wildlife hazard management – New wildlife strike reporting, hazmat assessment, and management plan standards
• Airport condition reporting – New notification standard

Class II
• Personnel provisions - New requirements for recordkeeping; new personnel training standards.
• Snow and ice control plan – New requirements for snow and ice control
• ARFF (negotiated standard) – New ARFF standards
• Traffic and/wind indicators (negotiated standard) – New standard
• Airport emergency plan (AEP) – New requirement for AEP (no triennial exercise required)
• Self-inspections (negotiated standard) – New standard
• Ground vehicle operations – New requirements for ground vehicle operators
• Obstructions – New requirement
• Navaids – New requirements
• Public protection – New requirements
• Wildlife hazard management – New requirements
• Airport condition reporting – New airport condition reporting standard
• Construction/unserviceable areas – New requirements

Class III
• Personnel provisions - A recordkeeping system and new personnel training standards
• Paved and unpaved surfaces – Required
• Safety areas - Required
• Marking, lighting, and signs – Required
• Snow and ice control plan – Required
• ARFF (negotiated standard) – Required
• HAZMAT handling and storage - Required
• Traffic and/wind indicators (negotiated standard) – Required
• Airport emergency plan (AEP) – Required (no triennial exercise required)
• Self-inspections (negotiated standard) – Required
• Ground vehicle operations – required
• Obstructions – Required
• Navaids – Required
• Public protection – Required
• Wildlife hazard management – Required
• Airport condition reporting – Required
• Construction/unserviceable areas – Required

Class IV
• Personnel provisions - New requirements for record keeping; new personnel training standards
• Airport emergency plan (AEP) – New requirement for AEP (no triennial exercise required)
* * *
This is only a brief overview of the proposed changes and each airport is encouraged to determine how the proposed rules will impact its airport both operationally and financially.