Concerned that illegal charter is now a leading issue for Part 135 and aircraft management companies, the National Air Transportation Association has encouraged the FAA to dedicate resources to addressing the problem. NATA made that request during its participation in the FAA General Aviation Safety Summit earlier this week in Washington, D.C.
The summit, now in its fifth annual edition, was established to bring together industry and regulators to discuss chief safety concerns and tackle what had been a stubborn fatal general aviation accident rate.
“In 2017, NATA visited with Part 135 and aircraft management companies all over the nation, and their number-one concern is illegal charter,” said Bill Deere, executive vice president for NATA. “Our members see it as a growing problem, one that has been exacerbated by the Internet.” NATA asked the FAA to review its resources to enable the agency to identify and halt those operations, as well as ensure it has staff available and trained to investigate hotline calls.
“We hope the agency will work with NATA and legitimate operators to combat this growing problem before an accident or incident involving illegal charter mars the entire general aviation community’s safety record,” Deere said.
Also during the safety summit, Deere noted the FAA’s work with the Air Charter Safety Foundation to expand the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for charter operators. “Thanks to the encouragement of [FAA] headquarters, since our last briefing in March 2016, the Air Charter Safety Foundation and all FAA regions in the lower 48 states have signed FAA master memorandum of understandings,” he said.
Deere further highlighted efforts such as the association’s Safety 1st program and recent inaugural Ground Handling Safety Symposium. NATA pointed to a 2016 Van Allen Group study finding business aircraft operators are 800 times more likely to incur aircraft damage during ground handing than during operations.
“A key takeaway from the [Ground Handing Safety Symposium] is the necessity of industry-wide coordination on safety data collection and analysis from a ground handling perspective—an objective adopted by NATA’s Safety Committee for 2018,” he said.