Washington Notes -- April 13, 2007

Post Sept. 11 FBO Reimbursements

The Department of Transportation has finalized procedures for FBOs in the Washington area to be reimbursed for business losses associated with the restrictions imposed on general aviation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Congress has appropriated $17 million for the FBOs that operated out of the Maryland airports of College Park Airport, Potomac Airfield, Washington Executive; Virginia's Reagan National Airport; and the South Capitol Street Heliport in Washington. The losses of the actual airports will not be covered under this program. In its preliminary research, the DOT has identified 16 potential leaseholders who may be eligible for reimbursement.

For the most part the eligibility periods ended either Feb. 13, 2005, or Nov. 30, 2005, when the most severe restrictions on general aviation were lifted.

The applications are due June 8.

Proposed Rules

Propeller standardization

The FAA has proposed amending current propeller design standards so that the U.S. rules will be in harmony with recent changes adopted in Canada and by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It is accepting comments until June 11.

Engine control system requirements

The FAA is also proposing changes to the airworthiness standards for designing new aircraft engine control systems so that the United States is in line with recent changes adopted by the EASA. These changes address the reliability of aircraft-supplied electrical power when determining how to protect against a failure. It is accepting comments until June 11 on this proposal.

Medical exams for pilots, air traffic controllers

The FAA has proposed a more liberal schedule for medical exams for pilots to remain current with their medical certificate. Age continues to determine just how often a pilot needs to have the prescribed exam.

For commercial pilots with a first-class medical certificate, the FAA has proposed changing the requirement that a pilot under 40 be examined every six months to just one exam every 12 months. However, it is maintaining the every six months requirement for those over 40.

For those pilots with second-class medical certificates, the exam will be required only once every five years for those under 40. For those over 40, an exam is required every two years. The FAA will continue to require that an air traffic controller be examined once a year for a second-class medical certificate.

For the pilot with a third-class medical certificate, the FAA has proposed that those under 40 have a medical exam every five years. The current regulation required this exam every three years. For those over 40, the exam is still required every two years.

EAS Contracts

Decatur, IL

DOT selected Great Lakes Aviation for a two-year essential air service contract providing 24 nonstop round trips each week from Decatur, IL, to St. Louis. The carrier will be paid a subsidy of $1.3 million in the first year and $1 million in the second. It was the only carrier to apply for the route.

Great Lakes replaced RegionsAir on the route. While RegionsAir won a two-year contract last year, it suspended service in March.

Great Lakes will fly the route with 19-seat Jetstream 32s. On this route, Great Lakes will have an American Airlines code-share.

Decatur also has service to Chicago Midway. On Feb. 1, Air Midwest began flying a circuit of Marion-Herrin-Decatur-Chicago with 16 weekly round trips. Air Midwest, a unit of Mesa Air Group, is being subsidized by Illinois and local governments.

Victoria, TX

Colgan Air won its second contract to provide service from Houston to Victoria, TX, with an EAS subsidy. Its new two-year contract begins July 1. Colgan will be paid $510,185 for two daily round trips using a 34-seat Saab 340B. Colgan flies the route as part of the Continental Connection network.

Colgan won the contract because it was the only applicant; it was not the community's choice. In comments filed with the DOT, Victoria officials noted that the route has been losing passengers ever since Colgan changed the schedule. The flights now originate in Houston instead of Victoria. The community contends that with the new schedule it is hard to make timely connections onto other flights or handle business matters in Houston in one day. "While we realize that the schedule still does not meet all the community's expectations, we believe the timing of the flights, as currently operated, is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of essential air service," the DOT noted in its decision.