Operational Control for Part 91 on FAA’s Radar

 - January 3, 2008, 11:25 AM

The FAA’s scrutiny of Part 135 operational control has spurred an interest in operational control of Part 91 business jets. While there is no specific regulation requiring operational control under Part 91, owners are responsible for airworthiness and safety, and this implies that operational control is necessary while an aircraft is operating under Part 91, according to Mike Nichols, NBAA’s vice president of operations, education and economics. The issue for Part 91 operators came to light during FAA examinations of Part 135 charter companies when the agency asked aircraft owners about who had operational control over certain flights. Some owners didn’t know or assumed that the Part 135 certificate holder had operational control, even over Part 91 flights. “What the FAA is saying,” Nichols noted, “is that if the owner doesn’t want to take control, Part 135 would be the only option available.” The FAA isn’t going to pursue flight departments or management companies, according to Nichols, but pilots should “make sure they know everything going on with a flight so they don’t put their [pilot] certificates at risk. It’s really an education issue.”