House Hearing Probes On-demand Charter Oversight

 - March 18, 2010, 11:50 AM

During a House aviation subcommittee hearing yesterday on oversight of on-demand (Part 135) aircraft operators, DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel III testified that this operating environment carries a “number of safety risks, such as short, frequent flights with more takeoffs and landings–the most dangerous part of flight.” NTSB statistics show that these higher risks have translated into more accidents for on-demand operators–155 fatal accidents in the past 10 years versus 18 involving commercial carriers. “However,” Scovel said, “the FAA’s oversight of this industry is based primarily on compliance with outdated regulations…[for areas such as] flight crew training requirements and aircraft maintenance inspections.” The IG’s office found that a targeted risk-based oversight approach could help mitigate safety issues associated with on-demand operations. Air Charter Safety Foundation president James Coyne and NBAA president Ed Bolen also testified at the hearing. Coyne said a DOT IG report issued last July “fails to present an accurate picture of the Part 135 regulatory environment,” and noted that on-demand safety has “steadily improved in recent years.” Bolen pushed for the adoption of all 140 recommendations issued in 2005 by the Part 125/135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee, of which he was a member.