NPRM Could Severely Restrict Living History Flight Experiences
In 1996, the FAA granted an exemption from various requirements of part 91 and part 119 to the Collings Foundation to operate a B-17 and B-24 World War II bomber carrying passengers for the purpose of preserving U.S. military aviation history. In return for donations, the contributors would receive a local flight in the restored bomber. The Living History Flight Experience (LHFE) was created. Since then, over 100,000 people have had the opportunity to experience Aviation History firsthand through a flight in several American historic treasures. Many passengers are veterans and their families. It would be a national travesty not to be able to make aircraft like the Skyraider, F-100, Me 262 and other WWII aircraft accessible to the public for flight experiences and living history events.
Over time, other organizations have applied for similar exemptions and in 2006, the FAA published a formal policy and set of rules for the Living History Flight Experience Exemption process. All of the groups operating under the LHFE program operate to honor our Nation’s veterans and educate our younger generations as to the sacrifice that these heroes made for our freedom. It is important to note that there has not been one accident, fatality or serious injury during an LHFE flight.
On March 23, 2011, the FAA placed a Moratorium on new applications for the Living History Flight Experience, and is currently soliciting public comment on the 2006 rule. In particular, the FAA’s questions concern General LHFE Policy, Issuance and Limitations, Weather Minimums, Pilot Qualifications, and Maintenance and Inspections.
The Collings Foundation is asking everyone to familiarize themselves with LHFE, the proposed exemption questions and the Collings response, and then formally respond to the FAA at the official regulations.gov website. Responses must be posted before 06/18/2012.
Currently, aircraft that have a LHFE exemption are also at risk as there is no guarantee from the FAA that these letters will be renewed (especially considering recent actions taken by the FAA). The FAA has proposed a rule change involving the LHFE. The issues that the FAA have brought forward are virtually the same issues that has already been addressed at a conference in Oshkosh ten years ago at a meeting chaired by Director of Flight Standards, John Allen.
Examples of the FAA and DoD hostility include the LHFE exemption program moratorium, the recent change of how the airworthiness certificates for former military jet aircraft are issued and the attempt to modify the Title 10 Section 2571 to prohibit any transfer of Government aircraft or parts for any purpose other than static display (see April's eNewsletter regarding Congressman Michael Turner). We are certain that changes in the LHFE program are just another way to limit warbird operation.
The FAA is hosting a public meeting to discuss LHFE in Washington DC, June 26th through June 28th. The FAA is looking for input from the public. If you would like to see historic aircraft continue to fly in honor of our Veterans and be able to experience flying in these aircraft your support is needed. Tell the FAA and your local representative to leave the existing LHFE alone. This policy should be expanded, not contracted. It is important to present a cohesive front to the FAA before the rules become more draconian.
The Collings Foundation suggests the following talking points when communication with the FAA:
Leave the current LHFE policy alone.
- Allow operators to offer aerobatic flight.
- Allow operators to let the passenger manipulate the flight controls.
- Allow "replica" aircraft like the Me-262 to receive an LHFE exemption.
- Remove the unnecessary provision that forces us to have arrestor gear for the F-4 and TA-4
- End the unnecessary moratorium immediately and process the Collings Foundation's requests as expeditiously as possible.
All comments have to be received by June 18th.