Part 135 flight and duty regulations are not yet on the front burner of aviation rulemaking, John Duncan, deputy director of FAA Flight Standards Services, told attendees at the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) safety symposium last month. The agency has a full plate writing new regulations because of congressional mandates included in the “Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010.”
That document contained provisions calling for new rulemaking on pilot training and fatigue. While the rule was aimed primarily at Part 121 airlines, former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt warned Part 135 operators at the time that new fatigue rules “could well be coming to your neighborhood soon.” He said it would look “very similar to, if not exactly like, the [Part 121] final rule”
Some in the unscheduled air charter industry feared this could mean that the FAA would discard work already done by an industry-FAA Part 125/135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) over a span of many years. But Duncan assured the attendees that when the FAA addresses the issue for Part 135, it will take the ARC’s work into account. “[The] ARC has done a lot of work on that,” he acknowledged.
Dennis Keith, chairman of the ACSF and president of Jet Solutions, told Duncan that the ARC recommendations represent a consensus, and if the new rulemaking reflects those recommendations it will receive wide support.
Among the FAA’s current workload is new rulemaking on air ambulance services, use of night vision goggles and creation of safety management systems. Duncan said the agency has the capacity to undertake about 40 rulemaking projects at one time, and the pipeline is already full. With more mandates coming from Congress and the FAA facing further cutbacks because of sequestration, he expects it to remain clogged for some time.