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A site devoted to aviation law, safety and security.

May 31, 2004

Advisory Circular Proposed For Creation/Use of Airworthiness Compliance Checklists

On May 28, 2004, the FAA published a Notice of Proposed Advisory Circular relating to the creation and use of airworthiness compliance checklists used when making major alterations to small airplanes. Proposed AC 23-XX-21 would provide guidance material for use of these compliance checklists in connection with "major" alterations, as defined in 14 CFR 1.1, but not with alterations that would otherwise require a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). The FAA recognizes that data and documentation requirements for major alterations can vary considerably. The AC is proposed to assure the standardization of particular airplane alterations data submission and process through the use of the airworthiness compliance checklists. However, the guidance provided in this AC does not constitute a regulation and is not mandatory. If you would like to comment on this proposed AC, you should send your comments to: FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, Kansas City, MO 64106. For further information, you may contact the FAA and speak with Mr. Taylor Martin at (816) 329-4138.

Posted by Greg

May 26, 2004

AOPA Charity Flight Drug Testing Exemption Extended by FAA

On May 20, 2004 the FAA granted the Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association's (AOPA) petition to extend Exemption 7112, as amended. This Exemption allows AOPA members to provide local sightseeing flights at charity and community events without having to comply with the drug and alcohol misuse prevention requirements of FAR Part 135. The extension extends the term of the Exemption to June 30, 2006. A copy of the letter extending the Exemption is available for review here.

In order to qualify for the Exemption, AOPA members must comply with the conditions and limitations contained in the Exemption that pertain to each individual event, as well as to the individual pilot and organization sponsoring each event. These conditions and limitations are contained in the letter extending the Exemption. For further information regarding the Exemption, click here.

Posted by Greg

May 25, 2004

Three-Trip Rule For International Fleet Waiver Operations Suspended by TSA

According to the NBAA, the TSA has suspended the three-trip requirement for international fleet waivers. As discussed in my April 27, 2004 post, the TSA was granting waivers from FDC NOTAM 2/5319 provided that an operator was flying a cumulative average of three international flights per month. The NBAA met with the TSA last Thursday and in that meeting, the TSA confirmed that operators would no longer need to meet the "three trip" monthly frequency requirement necessary for them to qualify for an International Fleet Waiver. For more information, check out the NBAA website at http://web.nbaa.org/public/ops/security/waivers.

Posted by Greg

FAA Withdraws Cessna 400 Series Wing Spar AD

In a withdrawal notice published today in the Federal Register, the FAA withdrew Notices of Proposed Rule Making 2000-CE-05-AD and 2000-CE-57-AD. These NPRM's contained Airworthiness Directives that would have requied all owners of Cessna aircraft series 401 through 414A "to repetitively inspect the wing spar caps for fatigue cracks and repair or replace as necessary and to incorporate a spar strap modification on each wing spar on certain airplanes." A previously issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-04-48 provided additional information regarding the proposed AD's.

After receiving public input and holding two public meetings relating to the proposed AD's, "the FAA has decided not to issue the AD's as proposed" and has "determined that the best way to address the unsafe condition is for FAA, the public, and industry to develop alternative solutions to address the unsafe condition". This does not mean that no AD's will ever be issued. However, it does appear that the FAA listened to and reviewed the public input regarding the serious impact these AD's would have had on twin-Cessna aircraft owners in terms of financial burden due to cost of inspections/repairs, aircraft down-time and diminution in aircraft value.

Posted by Greg

May 21, 2004

FAA Aircraft Registration Enforcement To Increase

Beginning June 1, 2004, an aircraft owner who fails to respond within 60 days under the Triennial Aircraft Registration Report program, could face enforcement action against his or her aircraft's registration certificate. The FAA Aircraft Registration Branch has indicated that potential actions could include suspension or revocation of an aircraft's certificate of registration and cancellation of the aircraft's N-number or registration.

Aircraft registration address changes are supposed to be updated within 30 days of any change. The FAA claims this is more than a mere paperwork issue and relates to safety in that "The agency and manufacturers must be able to notify aircraft owners to distribute safety and maintentance related information, including airworthiness directives". Apparently if an aircraft owner does not comply, their name will be posted on the FAA's website. If you are unsure of whether the information for your aircraft is current, you can check the information for your aircraft here.

Posted by Greg

May 20, 2004

FAA Replacement Certificates On-line

If you lose your airman's certificate, or if it happens to go through the washing machine and it is no longer legible(for those of us who haven't had a check-ride in awhile and still have a paper certificate), now you can order a replacement certificate on-line at the FAA Civil Registry website. Yes, it will also be one of the new plastic credit-card-like certificates with the embedded security enhancements. And, not only can you apply for a replacement certificate on-line, but you can actually receive temporary authority to operate via e-mail or fax. The Registry offers a number of other on-line services as well. For more information, check out the website at www.registry.faa.gov.

Posted by Greg

May 18, 2004

TSA Releases General Aviation Airport Guidelines

As you may have heard by now, the TSA released its GA Airport Security Guidelines on May 17, 2004. The guideline document is an "Information Publication", not a regulation or rule, and is designed to establish non-regulatory guidelines for general aviation airport security. Recognizing that a single approach to security at all airports was not appropriate, and quite honestly, impossible, the guidelines include industry best practices and a tool for airport operators to assess each individual airport and determine what security enhancements may be suitable or appropriate.

How does an operator make this assessment? Well, the guidelines contain the "Airport Characteristics Measurement Tool". An airport operator self-administers this tool to determine existing vulnerabilities on the airport, security enhancements that are currently in place, or security enhancements are most appropriate for implementation. The tool takes into account airport proximity to mass population areas or sensitive sites, number of aircraft based at the airport, length of runways and number and types of operations at the airport.

The interesting, and potentially problematic aspect of these guidelines is the fact that they are subject to local interpretation and implementation. The guidelines state "Airport operators should rely on their experience and intimate knowledge of their facility, applying those items that are both reasonable and effective." This sound great in principle, but I can very easily see an overzealous or misguided airport operator trying to implement security enhancements that are both unreasonable and ineffective.

Discretion is great, as long as it is exercised appropriately and within reason. The general aviation industry will be watching how these guidelines are implemented with great interest and reserve.

Posted by Greg

May 11, 2004

FAA To Amend FAR 43.17 To Facilitate Negotiation Of Canadian Bilateral Agreement

The FAA today issued Notice of Proposed Rule Making 2004-17683 to address constraints that currently impede negotiating Maintenance Implementation Procedures (MIP) under the current Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). Without the existing constraints, the FAA could then negotiate an agreement with Canada that would expand the allowable maintenance capabilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Most of the proposed language changes are minor: changes to clarify definitions and make the "language flow more smoothly" and substituting certain compliance standards from FAR 43.13, 43.15 and 43.16 to referencing an "agreement between the U.S. and Canada" etc. One substantive change would eliminate the existing requirement that products for use in maintaining or altering U.S.-registered aircraft be transported from the U.S. to Canada and allow parts to be shipped directly to Canada from any location.

Overall, these changes are supposed to allow work in Canada to "be more in line with the maintenance allowed by other FAA-certificated domestic and foreign repair stations."

Posted by Greg

May 10, 2004

TSA Suspends "Security Threat" Revocation Rule

The Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") has suspended enforcement of the rule that allowed it to revoke an airman's certificate if he or she was deemed to pose a "security threat" to aviation security. As discussed in previous posts, if the TSA determined that an airman posed a risk to aviation security, upon notice from the TSA, the rule required that the FAA revoke an airman's certificate.

As enacted, without notice or public commment, the rule did not contain any meaningful right to appeal the TSA's decision. Although the airman could appeal to the TSA, if the threat assessment was based on intelligence information, the airman was denied access to the evidence needed to prepare a defense against the allegations. Further, the NTSB, the agency ordinarily responsible for review of FAA certificate actions, refused to review the TSA's basis for determining that an airman posed a security risk.

The December 2003 FAA Reauthorization Bill included a provision directing the TSA to develop a new process to give an airman the ability to appeal the revocation to an impartial third party. However, since the TSA has not yet developed that process, it has said it will not enforce the rule against U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens until the new process is in place.

The TSA's decision does not eliminate the rule. But it does provide a temporary reprieve until the TSA can implement a process that will protect and ensure due process rights to airman within the TSA's sights.

Posted by Greg

May 03, 2004

Air Marshals Exposed

An article in today's edition of USA Today discloses air marshals at Milwaukee's Mitchell International irport, and at most of the major airports around the country, are routinely escorted through the exit isles at the security checkpoints. As the article points out, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the individuals taking the shortcut are air marshals or other law enforcement. So much for secrecy and being undercover.

When the obviousness of this procedure was pointed out to the TSA, they had no comment. However, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association is apparently aware of this breakdown in security and has been lobbying to have the procedure changed. Not only does the current procedure compromise security, it also potentially places the exposed marshals and officers at risk.

The article goes on to state that TSA screeners have been observed taking shortcuts in baggage screening when the baggage volume is heavy to avoid having to run every bag through the explosive detection system. Just goes to show that we can have all of the expensive equipment and technology installed at the airports, but if the TSA has lazy or incompetent people working for it, we are probably no better off than we were before the equipment was installed. Security is in large part attitude. And the TSA obviously does not have the right attitude.

Posted by Greg

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