NBAA Calls for FAA To Issue New Pilot Records Proposal

 - June 30, 2020, 12:03 PM

NBAA has appealed to the FAA to rewrite a proposed rulemaking to establish an electronic pilot records database (PRD), expressing serious concerns about the burdens that the existing proposal would impose on Part 91 corporate flight departments. In comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), NBAA said the proposal “exemplifies regulatory overreach, going far beyond the intent of the legislative mandate with no identifiable safety benefits for Part 91 operators.”

Issued on March 30 and open for comment through June 29, the NPRM calls for air carriers, public aircraft operators, air tours, fractional providers, and corporate flight departments to enter pilot data into the PRD and for air carriers, fractional providers, and certain other operators to evaluate available data in the PRD before hiring a pilot candidate.

NBAA is questioning the extension of pilot record-keeping requirements, which in past had centered on commercial and fractional operations, to corporate flight departments.

In the proposal, the FAA noted that Congress had mandated that the agency established an electronic database to compile data on air carrier pilots and “other persons.” However, the legislative body did not specify how other persons should be applied. The FAA interpreted that to mean individuals who might fly for a “gateway operation” as a means toward a career with a commercial carrier and defined corporate flight departments as such gateways. And the agency further narrowed the definition of a corporate flight department as one that typically flies with two or more aircraft and requires a type rating.

But NBAA said the agency’s “attempt to define a ‘corporate flight department’ lacks any congressional direction, is rooted in a false and baseless belief that ‘corporate flight departments’ are ‘gateway operators’ that are likely to provide pilots employment on their journey to a career with the scheduled airlines, and its codification would create significant confusion in the industry, discouraging compliance.” The association further questioned how such a definition would improve safety. “We would suggest that the FAA abandon finalizing this definition,” the association said.

Imposing the recordkeeping and reporting requirements on Part 91 exceeds the agency’s statutory authority in the first place, NBAA added. “The FAA offers no identifiable safety benefit and NBAA is unable to identify any positive safety outcome for Part 91 operators facing compliance with these measures,” the association said, recommending that the FAA support the existing record request processes for other operators.

Another key concern surrounds the agency’s proposal to include comments from check pilots during pilot training in the PDR. This, the association said, “will have a significant chilling effect on safety and on documenting opportunities for pilot improvement. Additionally, this requirement contradicts previous FAA positions on the value of protecting check pilot comments during training and is contrary to the FAA’s broader efforts to de-identify data in support of safety improvement.” NBAA asked the agency to scrap that requirement.

NBAA noted that hundreds of other commenters in the docket have written similar concerns.

“The NPRM lacks a robust analysis of the effects of this proposal on Part 91 operations and ignores many consensus recommendations from the 2011 PRD ARC, resulting in a significant burden on numerous small entities with no clear nexus to Part 121 air carrier hiring,” said NBAA COO Steve Brown.