The FOARC proposes changes to Part 135 that, says Cebula, have been needed for a long time. Two key issues, he notes, are the 60 percent landing rule and the requirement for approved weather reporting. "In the committee we recommended that those aspects of 135 be changed provided that the charter operators are complying with certain minimums that are established in Subpart K that actually go beyond what 135 currently requires for training, group pairing, cockpit resource management, and minimum crew qualifications," Cebula says. "But we're doing it based on the fact that the fractionals for the last 15 years have been operating in a way that they were adhering to all these requirements and they have been able to prove that you can safely extend the landing formula and that you can fly into airports that do not have approved weather reporting."
As far as those operating under Part 91, Cebula says, "I think that there is no doubt that the fractionals will be subject to a much higher degree of regulatory oversight than they currently experience." However, he adds, it isn't much different than how most of the programs are already operating.
An NPRM on the issue is expected from the FAA by September.
Flight & Duty Time
An ongoing issue for NATA is the regulation of flight and duty time. Cebula, whose frustrations are shared among members of the industry, says, "We have been working that issue to death. The FAA has not taken an active stance on enforcing that notice on membership. The idea is that they have said in essence that they are not going to push applying it to the 135 community. It's like a sword hanging over our heads."
NATA Chairman Charlie Priester, president and CEO of Priester Aviation, an FBO/135 operator at Palwaukee, IL, agrees with Cebula. "The one-size-fits-all is not appropriate in this case. I think we have to absolutely take those steps in our industry to make sure our pilots are properly rested and ready to perform and fly... I think we have to have a difference of criteria," he says.
Cebula says that FAA told NATA's committee in November that it is not planning to enforce the notice, but Cebula is skeptical of what that may ultimately mean. "The problem is they are doing all of this in such a back door way because it's through interpretations of definitions, which have some real questionable legal basis. It's such a gray area," he states.
Another issue on the docket for NATA is drug and alcohol testing exemptions for certain sightseeing flights. According to Jennifer Banks, specialist, government affairs, for NATA, the FAA has approved NATA's petition allowing qualifying members to conduct local sightseeing flights for compensation or hire at certain charity or community-oriented events without complying with drug and alcohol testing requirements. However, NATA is encouraging FAA to reconcile additional burdens the rule places on flight schools. "Flight schools were hopeful that the FAA would also amend or rectify the situation and allow them to offer the public airplane rides without having to be on a drug and alcohol testing program, which is a financial burden," Banks says.
In an attempt to remedy the situation for the flight schools, Banks says that NATA's Flight Training Committee is continuing its talks with the FAA. "We understand there may be an NPRM in the works to discuss air tours and air plane rides versus sightseeing flights, but we haven't seen anything yet," she states.
For years the United States' flight schools have marketed to students from Europe to train at their schools. However, recent circumstances may make that next to impossible.
Banks says that in the past European students could train in the U.S. and then return to their home countries and transfer their certifications to meet the requirements of their civil aviation authorities.
The U.S. and Europe have enjoyed a balanced relationship, but "When the JAA's (Joint Aviation Authority) recommendations were going to be implemented, many of the countries' individual aviation authorities did away with their conversion programs to become JAA-certified," Banks says.
The ensuing confusion has led to students opting to not come to the U.S. to train. "They don't know how they will convert their certifications to their country," she states.
The JAA is a collection of representatives from Europe's individual Civil Aviation Authorities, Coyne explains, noting it as one of the causes for some of the confusion on this issue. "I think our best success will be with Congress," he states.
"The only real leverage we have on this issue is to try to turn the FAA and Congress into allies so that the FAA will use the influence it has with regard to Europe."
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