Tue, Nov 18, 2003
NATA, reacting to the
imminent publication of a rule restricting long-range flights by
Part 135 operators, has pledged a thorough review of the rule,
which has already raised concerns. Following initial review of an
advance copy of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposal
to impose a 180-minute range limit on certain Part 135 operations,
NATA believes that the FAA has not provided sufficient
justification for the numerous new requirements.
The proposal to impose
Extended Operations (ETOPS) requirements will require operators to
remain within 180 minutes of an "adequate airport" on all flights
outside the continental United States unless the operator and
aircraft meet additional requirements. Aircraft meeting the
additional ETOPS requirements would be permitted to operate to a
maximum limitation of 240 minutes. There is no range limit imposed
today, and the FAA acknowledges that there is no safety data
showing existing accidents or incidents specifically related to
"While it may be an appropriate time to consider special
requirements for ultra long-range flights, absent a clearly defined
safety justification we could not support this rulemaking in its
entirety," explained NATA director of government and industry
affairs Eric Byer.
NATA has concerns with the overall impact of an ETOPS rule for
Part 135 and will develop comprehensive comments for submission to
the agency. However, one requirement in particular has already
emerged as objectionable.
"We are concerned with the FAA's desire to ban certain existing
aircraft from ETOPS flights after eight years," Byer stated.
A key component of the ETOPS NPRM is the creation of special
Part 25 certification standards for newly manufactured aircraft
capable of ETOPS flights. Eight years following an ETOPS final
rule, the FAA wishes to prohibit the addition of an ETOPS-capable
aircraft to an operator's certificate unless the aircraft meets the
new Part 25 standards.
"The FAA's position is that a particular aircraft is safe today
and will be safe for ETOPS flights for the next eight years. It
simply defies logic that at a purely arbitrary date, this same
aircraft can suddenly become unsafe. The association intends to
dispute this particular requirement," Byer concluded.
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