"The Board viewed Parts 91 and 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations as highly proven and successful by any measure. We had serious concerns that the potential risk in opening them for amendment far outweighed any possible benefit to the business aviation community. The Board considers the flexibility inherent in Part 91...to be vital to the success of traditional flight departments. This flexibility must be ... retained."
Myers notes that approximately 15 flight departments were closed and replaced by participation in fractional ownership programs. However, in coming up with the standards for fractional ownership programs and owners, marketing issues were put aside, and safety was in the forefront, says West.
As of January 11, NBAA amended its laws to make adherence to the guidelines a condition for membership.
"This begs the question, what does the FAA do next, or what happens next?" says West.
"What we're going to do next is insure compliance by our members, insure acceptance of these guidelines and responsibilities which are a requirement for membership, and continue the educational process by developing a safety culture educational campaign this spring."
According to vice president Andrew Cebula, NATA "is committed to an industry standard" defining fractional ownership and fractional ownership programs and regulating them under FAR Part 91, but the question comes down to how FAA plans to enforce that standard. The NBAA approach is to set the standard as a basis for its membership, but that doesn't give FAA a method for enforcing the standard, says Cebula.
"We feel that the guidelines and the direction to the FAA need to be a little stronger," says Cebula, "and what we send to the FAA is certainly going to do that ... Our direction to the FAA is going to be for them to put as much teeth into implementing the guidelines as they can.
"Our vision on that guideline (is) that the FAA would use it to determine whether a fractional ownership company was in a safe harbor ... if you are operating under that industry standard, then the FAA will consider it kind of a safe harbor, and you will be covered by Part 91, and if you are not operating under that industry standard, then the agency is going to look more closely at your operations, really with an eye towards whether or not you should be regulated under (Part) 135."
The guidelines themselves, drawn up by NBAA, were approved by NATA with one amendment: NATA would like to remove a provision that places duty limit times on mechanics in fractional ownership programs.
Finding the best position to take on this issue was not easy for the association. NATA surveyed its members last year to find out where they stood, says Cebula. "A slight majority of our members felt that fractional(s) should be under 135, but when you start then looking at whether NATA as an organization should take that viewpoint, it really becomes more of a 50-50 split within our membership."
He says the real issues of concern were how to go about regulating the programs under Part 135 and what impact would that have on aircraft management.
"The one thing that our board wanted to make very clear is that the industry standard has to have teeth in it, so that it is sufficiently defining the parameters of fractional ownership, of fractional ownership programs," adds Cebula.
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