Charter Operators Face Grounding Over Training Issue

 - November 15, 2012, 2:55 PM

Charter operators might see pilots and fleets grounded because of a change made last year to the FAA Inspector’s Handbook. The handbook clarifies FAR 135.337 by stating: “Before an air carrier authorizes a contract instructor or nominates an individual to become a contract check airman, the air carrier must provide its POI [principal operations inspector] with evidence that these individuals have completed at least one air carrier’s initial training and qualification curriculum as a flight crewmember for an operator certificated under the same CFR part.”

The problem, according to operators, is that FAA POIs had previously approved Part 142 instructors and check airmen who didn’t strictly meet the above requirements, and few instructors and check airmen meet those specific standards. Volo Aviation is facing the prospect of not being able to find a qualified check airman and the company’s fleet could be grounded by March, it said. Sky Limo Air Charter told AIN that one of its jets has been grounded for more than 75 days due to this issue.

FlightSafety International is aware of this situation and is discussing this issue with the FAA. NBAA and other organizations have developed a proposal to the FAA to resolve this problem, according to Doug Carr, the association’s vice president of safety, security, operations and regulation. “We’ve got a phone call with the FAA on Monday to discuss how we’re going to move forward.”

Comments

Jack F's picture

You can't break the rules just because they don't align with your business goals. What kind of outfit would the FAA be if business decisions were to drive the way safety for the general public was handled. Seems silly. I don't know anything about the FAA or airlines, but from a layman's perspective, I don't see a government organization responsible for ensuring the safety of the general public changing the rules just because it doesn't align a with a couple of businesses plans for making money.

If that were the case, whats the point in having an FAA? Might as well just let corporations assume responsibility for safety than. We all know that would be there top priority, or do I have that backwards, there top priority would be shareholders, golden parachutes, and profit? I can't remember which.

Matt's picture

First of all, the FAA will cease to exist if it drives operators out of business. Second, there is no safety breach that is causing the FAA to rethink how they interpret their own rules. The way they have been approving check airmen and instructors at Part 142 schools has worked perfectly well for a long time. Safety is not being compromised. Third, regulated entities (pilots, charter operators, mechanics, etc.) do assume responsibility for safety. The FAA sets the minimum standards, and those in the industry comply with the standards or, hopefully, exceed the minimum standards. If they didn't comply, they would be out of business, period.

Joe S.'s picture

Surely you jest? Using an instructor or check airman that is not qualified in accordance with the FARs should not only ground an air carrier - they should be violated! A quick check of 135 operator accidents will show that the NTSB has cited crew training as an issue in several (if not most) rescent accidents.

There is probably nothing for these illegally trained operators to worry about though - historically the FAA usually caves into operator requests unless forced to act by congress or the media.

Matt's picture

So, if it's correct that crew training is a big factor in recent Part 135 accidents, then logically this FAA reinterpretation of the regulations will lead to more accidents. Because this reinterpretation is incentivizing operators not to train in simulators but to train in aircraft.

What do you think the FAA should do that would improve safety in this particular situation, but without grounding aircraft and enabling operators to continue training and checking at the Part 142 schools?

Jack F's picture

If these so called companies are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy because of requiring more or proper training for crews, they should be shutdown. I suspect training and maintenance would be the first to go in a financially struggling airline.

Joe S.'s picture

The rule is/has been quite clear on the requirements for an individual to be a check airman or instructor for an air carrier. Just because the FAA is finally waking up and realizing that operators are not in regulatory compliance, does not mean that they are "re-interpreting" the regulation. Show me an FAA legal interpretation that says an air carrier can use individuals that do not meet FAA regulations when they elect to train at a 142 training center - you won't find any such interpretation. This whole "the sky is falling" is just the major 142 training providers trying to scare everyone into believing that it is impossible for an air carrier to train their instructors and check airmen or to maintain operational control of them. If an air carrier cant properly train and qualify it's instructors or check airmen, then how can they possibly train their flight crews!?

Gerry Klingman's picture

First of all, if you talk to most POI's, they think this regulation is ridiculous. If you look at the check-ride guidelines for a 135 check and a 61.58 check-ride, they are almost identical. How can these check airman be authorized to issue a type rating in an aircraft and not conduct a 135.293 or 135.297 check-ride? These check airman have not been authorized for a long time to conduct the 135.293 items 4-8 dealing with company specific regulations. The operator has to have a company check airman or the POI conduct this evaluation.

It is pretty clear that the folks in the FAA AFS-200 office have no clue on how the FAA regulations apply to the real world. The best thing that could happen is have the FAA administrator shut down that office and move it to OKC away from the cool aid drinkers in Washington.

Joe S.'s picture

I must admit that I have not had the opportunity to talk to the over 1000 POIs, as Gerry obviously has, but that does not change the regulatory requirements for an individual to be considered as a check airman.

If someone is trying to make the case that either:

1. We've always done it this way and haven't killed anyone yet....

or

2. 14 CFR part 135 doesn't make sense to me and/or doesn't fit my business model...

... so therefore, I shouldn't have to comply, then that entity is operating contrary to the regulations and if the FAA allows that to take place, then the FAA officials that condone such actions should be fired!

Anybody remember Southwest airlines and the FAA debocle that happened there?

Joe S.'s picture

"These check airman have not been authorized for a long time to conduct the 135.293 items 4-8 dealing with company specific regulations"

So that would include ops specs, so how are these "check airmen" evaluating approaches, reduced visibility takeoff, weight and balance and other issues which air carriers can ONLY due in accordance with their ops specs.

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