Compliance Countdown: March 2013

 - March 1, 2013, 12:25 AM

Within Six Months

March 13, 2013:

Air Carrier Contract

Maintenance Requirements

In this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), the FAA seeks to amend the maintenance regulations for domestic, flag and supplemental operations (Part 121), as well as commuter and on-demand operations (Part 135), for aircraft type-certified with passenger seating of 10 or more (excluding any pilot seat). The proposed rules would require these operators to develop policies, procedures, methods and instructions for performing contract maintenance that are acceptable to the FAA and to include them in their maintenance manuals.

According to the FAA, these changes are needed because contract maintenance has increased to more than 70 percent of all airline maintenance, and numerous investigations have shown deficiencies in maintenance performed by contract maintenance providers. The proposals would help ensure consistency between contract and in-house airline maintenance, the agency said, and enhance the oversight capabilities of both the air carriers and the FAA. Comments identified by Docket Number FAA-2011-1136 should be submitted electronically through or by mail to: Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

March 18, 2013:

Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck

Under this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), flight crewmembers in operations under Part 121 would be prohibited from using personal wireless communications devices while at their duty stations on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated. This rule would align FAA regulations with the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.” The law does allow the use of a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for a purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related or employment-related communications, in accordance with procedures established by the air carrier and the FAA.

The NPRM points out that the 1981 “sterile cockpit” rule requires air carriers operating under Parts 121 and 135, as well as flight crewmembers in those operations, to ensure that the environment on the flight deck is free from potentially dangerous distractions during “critical” phases of flight. These are defined as all ground operations involving taxi, takeoff and landing, and all other flight operations conducted below 10,000 feet, except cruise flight. The proposed requirements in this NPRM would extend the prohibition on personal use of personal wireless communications devices and laptop computers to all phases of flight. It gave as an example of distracted flying an instance in which two pilots were using their personal laptop computers during cruise flight and lost situational awareness, leading to a 150-mile fly-by of their destination.

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2012-0929 to or by mail to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Within 12 Months

Jan. 14, 2014:

Flight Crewmember Duty and Rest Requirements

This final rule amends the FAA’s existing flight, duty and rest regulations applicable to certificate holders operating under domestic, flag and supplemental operations rules. The new requirements eliminate the current distinctions among domestic, flag and supplemental passenger operations and are based on time of day, whether an individual is acclimated to a new time zone and the likelihood of being able to sleep under different circumstances. This rule places a joint responsibility on the certificate holder and each flight crewmember to report for a flight duty period (FDP) properly rested. In order for the crewmember to report properly rested, the certificate holder must provide the crewmember with a meaningful rest opportunity that will allow the crewmember to get the proper amount of sleep. Likewise, the crewmember bears the responsibility of actually sleeping. A pilot who reports for duty without being properly rested is prohibited from beginning or continuing an FDP until he or she is properly rested.

July 4, 2014:

Taws Equipage for Canadian Aircraft with Six or More Passenger Seats

Transport Canada (TC) announced on July 4, 2012 new regulations that would improve safety for small aircraft that fly into remote wilderness or mountainous areas where the danger of flying into terrain is highest. Under the new regulations, commercial operators will have to install a terrain awareness and warning system (Taws) in turbine-powered airplanes with six or more passenger seats. Operators will have two years from implementation to equip their airplanes with Taws. The regulations comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards and bring Canadian regulations close to those of other aviation authorities, including the U.S. and European Union. Canada’s TSB also recommended the wider use of Taws to help pilots assess their proximity to terrain. Operators will have five years to equip with an enhanced altitude accuracy function.

Beyond 12 Months

Jan. 1, 2017:

European Union Tcas Version 7.1 Rule

The FAA has published an Information for Operators regarding an EU mandate that certain operators use the latest version 7.1 of the traffic alert and collision avoidance system (Tcas II) software. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization does not require that version 7.1 software be installed for international flights in new and existing aircraft until Jan. 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2017, respectively, the EU mandated that all aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds or with an authorized capacity to carry 19 passengers have the upgrade installed by March 1 this year. However, aircraft with Tcas II version 7.0 that were certified before March 1 this year have an extended deadline of Dec. 1, 2015, to comply with the mandate. The FAA recommends that operators of aircraft with Tcas II installed and that plan on operating in EU airspace need to ensure that version 7.1 software is installed to comply with the EU implementing rule.