Subpart K languishing in DOT limbo

 - January 17, 2008, 12:01 PM

Almost two years after FAR Part 91 Subpart K was issued as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), a final rule on regulation of aircraft fractional-ownership operations remains in bureaucratic limbo in the “executive coordination process.”

In plain English, which the federal government touts but seldom uses, that means it is somewhere in the bowels of the DOT, where it has languished since September, when former FAA acting Administrator Monte Belger signed off on the rule.

The DOT was supposed to complete its review within 90 days and then forward it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for another review. But the proposal has been stalled at the DOT for more than six months, and it’s anybody’s guess when it might emerge.

The OMB is also supposed to complete its review within 90 days, after which it would be published as a final rule. Following that, the FAA has said it intends to implement the proposal within a 15-month compliance schedule. It would allow continued operations under the existing Part 91 regulations while incrementally transitioning to the new regulatory requirements. A 30- to 60-day training period for FAA employees would follow adoption of the final rule.

Although the fractional-ownership regulations were strongly supported by former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, she completed her five-year term in August and Belger retired in September. With neither around to push for speedier action by DOT officials, the FAA’s original plan of having the final rule published by the end of last year and implementation by late this year continues to slip.

Part 91 Subpart K not only regulates fractional-ownership operations, it makes some modifications to Part 135 on-demand charter requirements to level the playing field. Most of the provisions came out of deliberations by the Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee (FOARC), which Garvey commissioned in 1999 to assist the FAA in developing operational guidelines to help it regulate the burgeoning fractional-ownership industry.