Still unclear at press time was how Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 91 will affect general aviation, particularly business aircraft and private aircraft with mtows exceeding 12,500 lb.
Federal Aviation Regulations
General aviation received some good news and some not-so-good news last month with regard to airport security.
Judging from testimony at a hearing on the FAA’s new air-tour proposals, FAR Part 136 might be a solution in search of a problem. Speaker after speaker told the FAA that the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) should be withdrawn, scrapped or, at the very least, rewritten.
Some flight schools have gone out of business since September 11 though the actual number is elusive. A National Air Transportation Association spokesman said a member survey taken two weeks after the terrorist attacks yielded shocking results. NATA’s membership conservatively lost between $300 million and $500 million during the period when all flight instruction and VFR flying were banned.
Aviation security collided with politics last month on Capitol Hill, when a Senate bill that would have created–among other provisions–a new force of federal employees to screen airline passengers and their baggage encountered stubborn resistance in the House.
Last October, an FAA certification engineer and a flight-test pilot filed a grievance against their managers at the Fort Worth, Texas FAA Aircraft Certification Office, complaining that the certification of the Eclipse 500 very light jet was granted despite “several outstanding safety/regulatory issues.” The two employees, who were not named in the grievance, are represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (natca).
At present, the most that can be said about the FAA’s intention to have an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) assist in rewriting FAR Parts 135 and 125 is that it is a work in progress.
The first ARC was formed several years ago and dealt with developing FARs that would apply to fractional jet operations. After lengthy deliberations, the new FAR–Part 91 Subpart K–was promulgated and instituted.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee and self-described “persistent bastard,” continues to rail against the lack of action in reopening Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to most general aviation operations.
NavAirWx has added live temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) to its moving-map and real-time weather display systems. The Mt. Kisco, N.Y., company uses satellite broadcast technology to provide “instantaneous access to current TFRs, with updates every 12 minutes.” Along with weather information updated on a five-minute cycle, “pilots now have complete and current conditions for every point along the route of flight,” according to NavAirWx.
Mentoring, where a more experienced pilot flies for some time with a new very light jet buyer until the owner gains confidence and experience, is receiving increasing scrutiny and consideration from aircraft manufacturers, insurance companies and operators.