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August 31, 2005

AC 90-100 Compliance Delayed Until September 29, 2005

According to the FAA, "We are delaying aircraft compliance with the AC, but still expect operators to comply with the operational guidance contained in the AC. Since HOST computers systems have been modified (along with other flight planning software systems), there really is no easy way to go back to 'todays' process tomorrow." The issued NOTAM is as follows:

!FDC 5/7641 (KFDC A0058/05) FDC THE IMPLEMENTATION DATE FOR AIRCRAFT COMPLIANCE WITH AC 90-100 HAS BEEN DELAYED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 29, 2005. IN THE INTERIM, ALL OPERATORS THAT COMPLY WITH THE REVISED AIRCRAFT EQUIPMENT SUFFIXES /E, /G/, /R, /J, /L, AND /Q ARE AUTHORIZED TO FILE AND FLY RNAV SIDS/STARS AND ROUTES. OPERATORS SHOULD COMPLY WITH THE OPERATIONAL GUIDANCE CONTAINED IN AC 90-100.

Posted by Greg

APIS Transmission Requirements To Change

Effective on or after October 4, commercial operators must make an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) transmission using the UN-EDIFACT format. For those operators currently utilizing the NBAA APIS Submission Service, that service does not use the UN-EDIFACT format and does not capture the necessary passenger information. As a result, that service will be discontinued. If you are currently making APIS transmissions, you should be using the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) eAPIS Online Transmission System which uses the UN-EDIFACT format. The CBP eAPIS site is available here.

Posted by Greg

August 29, 2005

Update To Revised Aircraft Equipment Suffix Changes

In response to significant questions and concerns regarding the implementation of the revised aircraft equipment suffixes contained in AC 90-100 and the Airman's Information Manual, the NBAA was able to obtain some clarifications and guidance from the FAA. According to the NBAA website, "the FAA is creating a web site where a current list of compliant equipment can be found, (2) the FAA is developing a web based RAIM prediction capability - until then RAIM prediction does not need to be done for any RNAV route conducted where ATC provides radar monitoring or RNAV departure/arrival procedure which has an associated "RADAR REQUIRED" note charted, and (3) a clarification stating operators with FMS which incorporate IFR GPS sensors should use the /G or /L suffixes consistent with RVSM approval status."

The new suffix table is effective September 1, 2005. You can obtain more information regarding the topic at the NBAA's website here.

Posted by Greg

August 26, 2005

FAA Decides Not To Mandate Use Of Child Safety Seats On Aircraft

In a Press Release issued yesterday, the FAA announced its decision "that it will not mandate the use of child safety seats on airplanes because of the increased safety risk to families." According to the FAA, "if forced to purchase an extra airline ticket, families might choose to drive, a statistically more dangerous way to travel." FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was quoted as saying "[s]tatistics show that families are safer traveling in the sky than on the road," said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. "We encourage the use of child safety seats in airplanes" and "if requiring extra airline tickets forces some families to drive then we’re inadvertently putting too many families at risk."

The press release also notes that "the FAA is also broadening the categories of the types of systems that airlines can provide on aircraft by amending its regulations permitting the use of alternative child restraint systems to improve safety for children otherwise secured only with a lap belt." The pertinent final rule was published in the Federal Register today and is avialable here. The Final Rule is effective Septermber 26, 2005 and comments are due no later than September 26, 2005.

Almost immediately, the NTSB issued a Press Release expressing its disappointment with the FAA's refusal to follow through on its earlier proposed rulemaking to require child safety seats. Chairman Rosenker noted that "[w]hile the FAA's new position may provide more options for the voluntary use of safety seats, we continue to believe that infants and young children deserve the same protection that is provided to other aircraft passengers," and that "[d]uring takeoff, landing, and turbulence, adults are required to be buckled up, baggage and coffee pots are stowed, computers are turned off and put away, yet infants and toddlers need not be restrained. This is an unnecessary risk to our children."

Seems to me that the FAA gave in to pressure from the airlines. I find its logic rather stretched and without any statistical support to show that families "might" drive instead of fly if forced to purchase an extra ticket to accomodate a child safety seat. Sure they cite statistics regarding the comparative safety of air travel versus automobile travel. However, they don't cite any evidence to show a child safety seat mandate will actually result in decreased air travel and increased automobile travel. Without any empirical support to correlate the two, this seems like a feeble argument for transportation safety.

I also question whether airlines or aircraft manufacturers will actually pursue the TC, STC or TSO alternatives proposed in the final rule for obtaining approval of alternative child restraint systems. Those options have been available all along, but no one has apparently exercised them. Why would they now? Simply because the FAA has issued a final rule telling them they could do it? I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong: I am all for supporting travellers' use of aircraft rather than automobiles. And I agree that air travel is safer than automobile travel. However, in this case, this appears to be more political rulemaking rather than rulemaking truly in the interests of safety.

Posted by Greg

August 24, 2005

Special Use Airspace Information Now Available Online

Up until now, the only way a pilot could confirm whether special use airspace (SUA) such as military operations areas (MOA's) etc. was to call flight service. However, recently the FAA has made that information available on its website. Now, a pilot can consult the FAA's Special Use Airspace & Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace Web Site to determine whether an SUA will be active during his or her anticipated flight. The website provides both a listing of the SUA's as well as a graphical depiction of current and scheduled activity for SUA's.

Although I still recommend that pilots call flight service before every flight to confirm Notams, temporary flight restrictions etc., this website will certainly aid pilots at the flight planning stage.

Posted by Greg

DOT/FAA To Extend War Risk Insurance For U.S. Flag Commercial Carriers

The FAA today published a Determination to extend its provision of aviation insurance and reinsurance coverage for U.S. flag commercial air carrier service in domestic and international operations beyond the current August 31, 2005 deadline through December 31, 2005. The extension affects U.S. flag commercial ir carriers operating domestic and international flights who currently have premium war risk insurance with the Federal Aviation Administration.

If you would like more information you may contact Helen Kish, Program Analyst, AEP-20, 202-267-9943 or Eric Nelson, Program Analyst, AEP-20, 202-267-3090. Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20591.

Posted by Greg

August 23, 2005

FAA Mechanic Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements To FAA

It appears that some people think they can misrepresent or omit information on FAA applications and that the worst that will happen if they are discovered is that they will be denied or lose their certificate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As we have discussed previously, falsification of an airman, medical or other FAA application can result in criminal prosecution.

An example of this was recently published on the DOT Office of Inspector General's website. According to the OIG's summary, "[o]n August 9, Hugo A. Obregon was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Greensboro to two years probation and assessed $100 for making false statements to the FAA on an application for Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate. Obregon falsely represented on the A&P certificate application that he met requisite training and experience. Had Obregon been successful in obtaining an A&P certificate, his subsequent work on commercial aircraft could have endangered the flying public."

This is yet another example of the risks an applicant takes if he or she falsifies an FAA application. And these are federal charges, subject to federal sentencing guidelines. Doesn't seem worth the risk to me.

Posted by Greg

TSA To Continue Federal Flight Deck Officer Program

In a Notice published today, the TSA is providing notice of its intent to collect information from respondents relating to the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program. With the Notice, the TSA is seeking to renew its information collection to continue its statutory mission of establishing and maintaining the FFDO program.

Up until now, the TSA hasn't been very forthcoming regarding the number of participants in the FFDO program. However, according to the Notice, "Based on the number of current FFDOs, TSA estimates a total of 6,000 respondents annually". So it appears that approximately 6,000 individuals are involved. Not sure whether all 6,000 are pilots, flight engineers or navigators, but I would guess that they represent a good portion of that number.

Now if the TSA could use some common sense and implement more reasonable procedures and regulations relating to an FFDO's carry of a firearm, they might really be on to something. Oh well. At lease they have an FFDO program, which is better than none at all.

Posted by Greg

August 22, 2005

Satellite Monitoring Of ELT Broadcasts Over 121.5 MHz And 243 MHz To End February 1, 2009

The FAA has issued a Notice to Airman announcing the scheduled end of satellite processing of emergency locator transmitter (ELT) distress signals broadcast over 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz. According to the Notam, "[t]he Cospas-Sarsat Program has announced plans to terminate satellite processing of distress signals from 121.5 and 243 MHz emergency beacons on February 1, 2009." The Cospas-Sarsat program is an international search and rescue program that uses satellite-aided tracking and its announcement is part of a transition to the more accurate 406-MHz ELTs. The Notam also appears to imply that the transition is in part based upon the fact that "121.5 MHz false alerts inundate search and rescue resources which impact the effectiveness of lifesaving services"

In spite of the announcement, ELTs that transmit on 121.5 MHz will still satisfy FAA requirements and be legal after February 1, 2009. Additionally, FAA and DOD ground stations will continue to monitor 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz and will be capable of intitiating search and rescue operations. (I wonder if this means the FAA will revise the existing post-9/11 Notams that require monitoring of 121.5 MHz by all aircraft when able and capable.) However, the lack of satellite monitoring will significantly limit the current ELT signals usefullness. As a practical matter, pilots and aircraft operators considering an upgrade will end up having to make a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether an upgrade is necesssary or worth it.



Posted by Greg

August 19, 2005

Application Process And Guidance For DCA Access Released By TSA

The TSA has released further information regarding the application process for obtaining access to Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). The TSA information available for download includes 1) the Federal Background Check Form; 2) Important Information and FAQs; 3) Armed Security Officer Guidance and Application; 4) Non Disclosure Agreement Form; and 5) FBO and Operator Guidance and Application. The information may be downloaded from the NBAA website here.

The TSA will begin accepting operator and FBO applications on August 18, 2005. 12, and will begin accepting flight authorization requests from approved operators on October 15, 2005. Operators are encouraged to begin the approval and slot acquisition process for DCA flights as far in advance as possible. Anyone interested in obtaining access to DCA and/or operating to/from DCA should review all of the available information before starting the application process as the restrictions and limitations of the approval and authorization processes are detailed and strict.

Posted by Greg

August 15, 2005

TSA Considers Revamping Airport Security Screening

According to an AP Article in the Washington Times, the TSA is apparently considering major changes to its airport security screeing procedures. The changes may even include lifting the ban on carrying razor blades, small knives, scissors, ice picks and bows and arrows, as well as limiting the use of pat-down searches. An internal memorandum dated August 5, 2005 also includes a proposal to only require passengers to remove their shoes if they set off metal detectors, are flagged by a computer screening system or look "reasonably suspicious". The memo further recommends reducing pat down searches by giving screeners the discretion not to search those wearing tight-fitting clothes and even suggests exempting several categories of passengers from screening, including federal judges, members of Congress, Cabinet members, state governors, high-ranking military officers and those with high-level security clearances.

The memo is in response to a request by the TSA's new chief, Edmund S. Hawley, for a broad review of the current procedures in hopes of making airline screening more passenger-friendly. Mr. Hawley would need to approve any changes to the existing procedures. According to TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield, "[t]he process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and challenge conventional beliefs," and "[i]n the end, it will allow us to work smarter and better as we secure America's transportation system."

Better late than never, I guess. After all, it has been almost four years since the initial bans were imposed. Of course, right about the time they decide to relax the bans, someone will probably do something stupid with a razor or scissors. In which case the suggested changes would probably remain just that, suggestions. However, considering the difficulty governmental agencies have with removing oppressive regulations, I suppose we should be thankful for any relief, even if it is less than complete. Regardless of the changes, if any, general aviation will remain my preferred mode of transportation.

Posted by Greg

August 12, 2005

Illinois Passes Law Making Impersonation Of A Pilot A Felony

And taking things one step further, Illinois has passed a law making it a felony to impersonate a pilot at Illinois airports. According to a Daily Herald Article, under the law, attempting to impersonate a "pilot, airline or airport employee or contractor in restricted areas of airports is a felony punishable by one to three years in prison." The new law also prohibits someone from "falsely claiming to be a pilot or other airport employee or contractor to get a uniform or other form of airport or airline identification". A separate bill enhances the penalty for trespassing in an airport’s restricted areas from a misdemeanor to a felony. Both of these laws will take effect Jan. 1, 2006.

Apparently security organizations were concerned with the ease with which someone can purchase an airline uniform on the internet without supplying proof that the purchaser is actually an airline employee. However, since airline crews and employees still have to go through security checkpoints, I am not sure how just having the uniform helps someone when they still need a proper identification badge. But the Illinois legislature and their governor believe these bills will increase aviation safety and prevent terrorist attacks. I am not so sure. Seems to me that this legislation will add to aviation safety about as much as the destruction of Meigs Field: Not much. But the legislation is certainly consistent with many of the other oppressive laws in Illinois.

Posted by Greg

Man Receives Jail Time For Flying Without Valid Airman Certificate

In a August 5, 2005 Release, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation states that a man was sentenced to 31 days of jail time and fined $1,000 for flying an airplane without a valid airman certificate. Apparently the man "has never held a pilot’s license, but operated his privately owned and unregistered Cessna aircraft on multiple occasions between 2002 and 2004 – a threat to aviation safety".

Seems strange to me that someone would spend the money on an aircraft and fly it around without ever having a pilot's license. I can understand, although I don't condone, the situation where a person has an airman certificate and then continues to fly after losing the certificate or his or her medical. However, to purchase an aircraft and then think you can fly around without having ever received an airman certificate is just crazy. I think this person must have other "issues".

This is also a good example of the fact that operating an aircraft without the appropriate airman or medical certificates can not only result in civil penalties, as discussed in previous posts and articles, but it can also result in criminal conviction and imposition of the associated penalties (e.g. jail time).

Posted by Greg

August 11, 2005

A Picture Trumps A Thousand Words

In a July 2, 2005 accident, a pilot was flying a Kelley Volmer Amphibian and during a hard landing on the Mississippi River near Nauvoo, Illinois performed a nose-dive into the river. Afterwards, the pilot claimed that he was "surprised" by a speedboat crossing beneath the airplane and struck the speedboat's large wake upon landing which resulted in his nose-over. Unfortunately for the pilot, the passenger in the aircraft and the passenger's daughter on the shore gave the NTSB versions of the accident that were very different from the pilot's explanation.

According to the passenger in the aircraft, after the accident the pilot stated that he had stalled the aircraft. However, the video taken by the passenger's daughter from shore was even more telling. According to the NTSB, the video showed that "[t]he aircraft made a low altitude, level turn toward the video camera. The recorded engine noise was consistent with an idle engine power setting. The airplane transitioned to a nose-down attitude and impacted the water. The recorded engine noise increased after the airplane transitioned to the nose low attitude. The airplane bounced off the water and nosed over after a second impact with the water. There was no evidence of a speedboat or rough water around the accident airplane during the accident sequence."

Without seeing the video, it sure sounds like a stall. Hard to argue with that type of evidence. It also makes me wonder what the pilot was thinking when he gave his side of the story. Excuses are great, but they only work if they are consistent with the facts. In this case, the pilot's excuse wasn't. You can view the preliminary factual report by the NTSB here.

Posted by Greg

Flight Plan Aircraft Equipment Suffixes To Change September 1, 2005

The FAA has issued a Revised Aircraft Equipment Suffix Table For FAA Flight Plans which takes effect September 1, 2005. this revision is the fourth and final revision "to enable operators to better indicate aircraft Advanced RNAV and RVSM capabilities using aircraft equipment suffixes." Starting September 1, "/J", "/K" "/L" or a newly defined "/Q" will be filed to indicate Advanced RNAV and RVSM capabilities while "/W" will continue to indicate RVSM capability only. The revised table also contains significant changes to the definitions of "/E", "/F" and "/Q" and will replace that currently posted in the February 17, 2005 edition of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

According to the FAA, ATC uses the flight plan equipment suffix information in connection with issuance or denial of clearance into RVSM airspace, application of a 2,000 foot vertical separation minimum in RVSM airspace to aircraft that are not authorized for RVSM, but are in one of the limited categories of Non-RVSM operators/aircraft that the FAA has agreed to accommodate, and determining whether an aircraft has "Advanced RNAV" capabilities and can be cleared to fly procedures for which that capability is required.

Posted by Greg

August 09, 2005

DOT Revises SIFL Rates For Period From July 1 Through December 31, 2005

If an employee flies on an employer-provided aircraft for non-business purposes, the value of that transportation is potentially taxable to the employee. This is also true for the employee's family members or a non-employee guest. The Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL) rate is used to meet the Internal Revenue Service Rules Section 1.61-21(g) requirement that the value of the transportation is calculated and then taxed as a benefit to the employee or non-employee guest.

The SIFL rate is calculated based upon distance and rate per mile and is performed on a per-flight, per-person basis. A flight equals "the distance in statute miles from where the individual boards the aircraft to where the individual deplanes." The revised rates for July 1, 2005 through December 31, 2005 are: 0–500 miles=$0.1926/mi.; 501–1,500 miles=$0.1468/mi.; over 1,500 miles =$0.1412/mi.; and a Terminal Charge of $35.21.

Posted by Greg

Are You Satisfied With The FAA's Aeromedical Certification Services?

If not, get ready to sharpen your pencils. The FAA has published a Notice of its forwarding of a Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval of the new collection. The ICR is titled: Survey of Airman Satisfaction with Aeromedical Certification Services and seeks to assess airmen's opinions of key dimensions of service quality including courtesy, competence, reliability, and communication. The FAA intends to send a FAA Pilot Medical Certification Survey approximately 4,800 airmen.

Although comments to the new ICR must be submitted on or before September 8, 2005, the Notice states that comments to OMB are most effective if OMB receives them within 30 days of publication. According to the Notice, "Comments are invited on: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Department, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the Department's estimates of the burden of the proposed information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology."

Comments should be sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503, Attention: FAA Desk Officer. You may also obtain further information regarding the new ICR from Judy Street on (202) 267-9895.

If this ICR is approved, this will give airmen an opportunity to provide input regarding their experiences in obtaining medical certification. Hopefully airmen will take advantage of the opportunity to apprise the FAA of some of the unnecessary challenges posed by Aeromedical Certification Services' current procedures and processes. Although I am sure any praise will be appreciated, and likely touted by the FAA, it will be more interesting to see how the FAA handles the constructive criticism it is likely to receive.

Posted by Greg

August 08, 2005

Untimely Appeal Of ALJ Decision Dismissed For Lack Of Good Cause

Consistent with its rules and precedent, the NTSB has dismissed an airman's untimely appeal in the absence of good cause for the tardy filing. In Administrator v. Grieshaber the airman filed his appeal 14 days late. On appeal, the airman argued that his late filing was excusable because "(1) two other NTSB law judges (Judge Mullins and Judge Geraghty) allegedly told one of respondent’s former attorneys during a discussion at the NTSB Bar Association meeting on June 8 and 9, 2005, that Judge Pope’s decision was "an advisory opinion"; and (2) there is "confusion" over whether he was properly advised of the deadline for filing a notice of appeal.

The Board rejected the airman's assertions holding that they were not good cause for his failure to file a timely appeal. With respect to the "advisory opinion" argument, the Board noted that the airman had not provided any "documentation or substantiation for the alleged statement by Judges Mullins and Geraghty that the oral initial decision in this case should be viewed as merely advisory." In fact, the Board stated that "any such statement would be obviously incorrect and patently inconsistent with our rules." Additionally, the evidence showed that the ALJ "discussed the evidence, affirmed the alleged violation, gave the parties written copies of their appeal rights, confirmed on the record that the attorneys for both parties had nothing further to raise before him, and then stated, "very well then the hearing is closed."

The Board was equally unsympathetic to the airman's argument that he was not properly informed of the filing deadline for a notice of appeal. "Not only did the law judge hand respondent’s counsel a written copy of his appeal rights, presumably in respondent’s presence, but the Board’s procedural rules are publicly available and copies of those rules were sent to respondent’s counsel of record when he filed his initial appeal to the Board. If his attorneys did not pass on this information or otherwise failed in their duty to respondent, his recourse is against the attorneys, not the Board." This appears to be unlikely given that the airman "was represented by three attorneys at the hearing, one of whom is a senior attorney with the Air Line Pilots Association and a long-time practitioner in NTSB proceedings."

It is interesting to note that the airman was not represented by counsel on his appeal to the Board. It appears that his failure to have counsel for the appeal may have contributed to the fact that his appeal was untimely and the airman was then required to make some creative arguments in an attempt to show good cause for his late filing. Unfortunately, his arguments were inconsistent with and unsupported by the facts, and did not amount to good cause as established by Board precedent.

Posted by Greg

August 05, 2005

7th Circuit Holds U.S. Not Responsible For Actions Of Contract Air Traffic Controllers In Meigs Mid-Air Collision

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the District Court's dismissal of a lawsuit against the United States arising out of a 1997 mid-air collision over Chicago, Illinois. At the time, both of the aircraft were receiving flight control services from the Meigs tower which was operated by private controllers under contract with the FAA. The estates sued multiple parties in multiple lawsuits. However, the claims against the U.S. were consolidated into one federal court action.

In Alinsky v. U.S., the plaintiffs brought claims against the U.S. under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging that the U.S was responsible for the accident because it had a non-delegable duty to provide air traffic control services and was thus liable for the negligence of the Meigs tower controller who failed to inform the pilots that the two planes were on a collision course. They also argued that the U.S. was negligent for allowing an allegedly untrained and unqualified controller to staff the Meigs tower and by delaying approval for additional staffing at the tower. The District Court granted summary judgment to the United States on several claims and after a trial on the remaining claims, the court ruled in favor of the U.S. on those claims as well. The plaintiffs then appealed.

On appeal, the 7th Circuit held that the U.S. was not responsible for the midair because the Meigs tower controller was not an employee, but rather an independent contractor. As a result, the U.S. did not provide the allegedly negligent air traffic control services nor was it responsible for the training performed and staffing maintained by its independent contractor. The Court went on to note that the U.S. could delegate its duty to provide air traffic control and that it had, in fact, done so in the case of at least 130 other towers.

The Court went on to state that "[h]ere, Congress authorized the FAA to enter into contracts, as necessary, to carry out the functions of the FAA, and thus the government did not violate a specific mandatory statute, regulation or policy in hiring Midwest to provide training and oversight at Meigs. The plaintiffs also fail to identify any mandatory statute or regulation dictating how the FAA must oversee private contractors or assure the contractor complies with federal regulations and the contract provisions. Where the plaintiffs’ claim is premised on negligent oversight, such a showing is imperative." Thus, any blame for the midair lay with the contract tower operator and not with the U.S.

This is another case where plaintiffs attempt to stretch the limits of the law to join as many deep-pocket defendants into a case as possible. It also squarely addresses the issue of delegation of duties by the government. Although some may argue the merits of whether the U.S. should be able to delegate its air traffic control duties to private parties (a similar debate to the one in connection with the FAA's current contract with Lockheed Martin for operation of flight service stations), this case clearly states that the U.S. does have the authority to delegate those duties.

Posted by Greg

August 04, 2005

FAA Publishes Final Rule On Second-In-Command Type Rating

The FAA today published its Final Rule establishing a second-in-command (SIC) pilot type rating and associated qualifying procedures. The rule is intended "to allow U.S. flight crews to continue to operate in international airspace without the threat of being grounded for not holding the appropriate pilot type rating." Up until now, The FAA second-in-command requirements differed from the ICAO standards in that the FAA did not issue a pilot type rating for the SIC pilot flight crewmember position. As a result, "some foreign civil aviation authorities (European and Caribbean) had notified the FAA and U.S. flight crews that they intended to enforce the ICAO type rating standards for SIC pilot crewmembers when U.S. flight crews operate in their airspace. This could have resulted in U.S. flight crews being grounded."

To resolve the situation, the FAA issued an NPRM on November 16, 2004 (discussed in my post that day) proposing to establish SIC type ratings on U.S. airmen certificates. In response, the FAA received 49 comments: Approximately 50% supported the proposal; 25% opposed it; and the remaining commenters had specific questions about the proposed procedures for issuing the SIC pilot type rating.

The Rule is effective on September 6, 2005. It is important to note that the final rule does not require the SIC pilot type rating for domestic flight operations within United States airspace, but rather requires pilots who plan to fly outside U.S. airspace and land in foreign countries to obtain the SIC pilot type rating. The FAA also recommends having the SIC pilot type rating when flying over or into airspace controlled by a foreign civil aviation authority that requires it.

For specific procedures for applying for and obtaining the SIC type certificate, you should read the Rule in detail. Alternatively, if you would like more information regarding the Rule, you can contact John D. Lynch, Certification Branch, AFS-840, General Aviation and Commercial Division, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-3844 or via the Internet at: john.d.lynch@faa.gov.

Posted by Greg

August 03, 2005

FAA Releases Notice Regarding New Part 121/Part 135 Operations Specifications For Weight And Balance

Yesterday the FAA released Notice 8400.84, Weight and Balance Operations Specifications, applicable to Part 121 and Part 135 air carriers. The Notice was issued to provide guidance to principal operations inspectors (POI's) in reviewing Part 121 and Part 135 operations specifications (OpSpecs) weight and balance authorizations. The Notice requires that operators comply with the newest revision of the weight and balance advisory circular, AC 120-27E Aircraft Weight and Balance Control. It is important to note that "weight and balance programs authorized under AC 120-27C, other than actual weights, are not in compliance with the guidelines of AC 120-27E" and "OpSpecs must be issued by August 11, 2005, to comply with AC 120-27E."

For all operators who have not yet been authorized a weight and balance program in accordance with AC 120-27E, POI's must provide a copy of the Notice to them no later than August 4, 2005. All operators who are not in compliance with AC 120-27E by August 11, 2005 will have to use actual passenger and bag weights in their weight and balance calculations. To implement this, the operator's POI "must issue OpSpec A096 revision 1.0 and coordinate with the principal maintenance inspector (PMI) to issue OpSpec E096 revision 3.0 to use actual weights."

For further information, operators should review the Notice, AC 120-27E or discuss the matter with their POI.

Posted by Greg

August 01, 2005

"Operation Safe Pilot" To Be Expanded?

DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead has recommended that "Operation Safe Pilot" be expanded beyond its initial scope to include all of California and, presumably, other states. If you will recall from my July 20, 2005, "Operation Safe Pilot" compared a list of individuals collecting disability benefits from the Social Security Administration against the list of certificated airman in California. That comparison resulted in discovery of pilots who were collecting disability and had failed to disclose those disqualifying medical conditions on their airman medical certificate applications. Approximately 40 of those pilots are currently being prosecuted for fraud and, obviously, are losing their airman medical certificates.

On July 22, 2005, the Inspector General sent a Memorandum to the FAA stating that "it is important that FAA take steps to proactively identify and address similar falsifications occurring elsewhere across the greater community of certificated pilots." The Inspector General went on to recommend that "FAA, working with SSA and the other disability benefits providers, expedite development and implementation of a strategy to carry out these checks and take appropriate certificate enforcement action where falsifications are found" and that "FAA should also consider revising its Application for Airman Medical Certificate in the near future to require applicants to explicitly identify whether they are receiving medical disability benefits from any provider."

I won't repeat here my observations and criticism of the pilots from my earlier post. Suffice it to say that the Inspector General and the FAA feel they are on to something and will likely be pursuing it in the future. Stay tuned.

Posted by Greg

Transportation Bill Passed Clarifying Excise Tax Exemptions For Air Tour Operators And Seaplanes

Last Friday the U.S. Senate passed the Highway Bill Conference Report (H.R. 3) which contains clarifications regarding the exemptions from the collection/payment of excise tax. Section 5223 adds an exemption from the payment of excise tax for "any air transportation by a seaplane with respect to any segment consisting of a takeoff from, and a landing on, water, but only if the places at which such takeoff and landing occur have not received and are not receiving financial assistance from the Airport and Airways Trust Fund." Section 5224 is an amendment clarifying that "aircraft operated on a flight the sole purpose of which is sightseeing" are exempt from the the payment of excise tax. Currently air tour operators have been paying fuel tax, as opposed to excise tax, on their flights with the understanding that they were not subject to excise tax. This amendment will now codify their understanding. Both provisions are effective September 30, 2005.

Posted by Greg

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01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
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06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
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09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
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12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 01/31/2008
02/01/2008 - 02/29/2008
03/01/2008 - 03/31/2008
04/01/2008 - 04/30/2008
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06/01/2008 - 06/30/2008
07/01/2008 - 07/31/2008
08/01/2008 - 08/31/2008
09/01/2008 - 09/30/2008
10/01/2008 - 10/31/2008
11/01/2008 - 11/30/2008
12/01/2008 - 12/31/2008
01/01/2009 - 01/31/2009
02/01/2009 - 02/28/2009
03/01/2009 - 03/31/2009
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07/01/2009 - 07/31/2009
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09/01/2009 - 09/30/2009
10/01/2009 - 10/31/2009
11/01/2009 - 11/30/2009
12/01/2009 - 12/31/2009
01/01/2010 - 01/31/2010
02/01/2010 - 02/28/2010
03/01/2010 - 03/31/2010
04/01/2010 - 04/30/2010
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06/01/2010 - 06/30/2010
07/01/2010 - 07/31/2010
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10/01/2010 - 10/31/2010
11/01/2010 - 11/30/2010
12/01/2010 - 12/31/2010
01/01/2011 - 01/31/2011
02/01/2011 - 02/28/2011
03/01/2011 - 03/31/2011
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06/01/2011 - 06/30/2011
07/01/2011 - 07/31/2011
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09/01/2011 - 09/30/2011
10/01/2011 - 10/31/2011
11/01/2011 - 11/30/2011
12/01/2011 - 12/31/2011
01/01/2012 - 01/31/2012
02/01/2012 - 02/29/2012
03/01/2012 - 03/31/2012
04/01/2012 - 04/30/2012
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06/01/2012 - 06/30/2012
07/01/2012 - 07/31/2012
08/01/2012 - 08/31/2012
10/01/2012 - 10/31/2012
11/01/2012 - 11/30/2012
12/01/2012 - 12/31/2012
02/01/2013 - 02/28/2013
04/01/2013 - 04/30/2013
05/01/2013 - 05/31/2013
06/01/2013 - 06/30/2013
07/01/2013 - 07/31/2013
08/01/2013 - 08/31/2013
11/01/2013 - 11/30/2013
12/01/2013 - 12/31/2013
01/01/2014 - 01/31/2014
02/01/2014 - 02/28/2014
05/01/2014 - 05/31/2014
07/01/2014 - 07/31/2014
08/01/2014 - 08/31/2014
10/01/2014 - 10/31/2014
12/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

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