Comment time extended again on air-tour proposal

 - March 22, 2007, 8:28 AM

Interested parties are getting more time to comment on the FAA’s controversial proposal to require all air-tour operators to be certified under Part 135 or 121, with an extension of the comment period from April 19 to June 18. In addition, after holding an online public meeting in which approximately 1,000 people and organizations participated, the FAA has agreed to industry demand to schedule two in-person public meetings–May 11 in Washington, D.C., and May 21 in Las Vegas.

Since the FAA published the proposal last October, it has received more than 2,100 comments, many of them asking for an extended comment period and a face-to-face public forum.

Under the proposal, hundreds of commercial air-tour operators currently permitted to operate under Part 91 (those that fly within 25 miles nonstop to and from the same airport) will have to develop operations specifications and become certified under Part 135 or 121.

Despite the fact that most of the comments received are negative, “This proposed rulemaking has not changed one iota in terms of substance,” according to Eric Byer, National Air Transportation Association director of government and industry affairs. “Requiring Part 91 operators conducting sightseeing operations–most of which are small businesses–to undergo Part 135 certification will place an untenable financial burden on them and force them out of business.”

If you wish to speak at the public meetings, call the FAA’s Mark Lawyer at (202) 493-4531. For more information on the proposed rule, contact the FAA’s Alberta Brown at (202) 267-8166, ext. 78321.