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Mon, Oct 16, 2023

Aviation Groups Question Proposed Regulatory Overhaul

FAA Proposes Remedy for a Non-Existent Ailment

Seven leading aviation groups have jointly commented on a Federal Aviation Administration notice proposing sweeping revisions to regulations germane to Part 135 charter operators, including on-demand air carriers operating Department of Transportation (DOT)-authorized public charter operations. The latter provide vital air service to small communities.

The coalition stated in a filing: “Changes to regulatory definitions could have unintended negative consequences throughout the entire Part 135 community—an established industry segment providing safe and secure transportation options that meet the diverse needs of thousands of communities across the nation.”

In August 2023, the FAA issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) suggesting potential revisions to the regulatory definitions of “on-demand operation,” “supplemental operation,” and “scheduled operation” under 14 CFR Part 110. FAA regulations govern the operations of air carriers, while DOT Part 380 regulations address economic authority for entities offering public charters. Current regulations allow part 380 operators to work with any air carrier, including on-demand carriers operating under Part 135.

The filing continues: “For more than 45-years, Part 135 carriers have operated aircraft safely and reliably on behalf of public charter operators under DOT Part 380, unlocking substantial public benefits and providing valuable air transportation to many communities that otherwise would not have commercial air service.

“Changing regulations could eliminate well-paying jobs at all levels of the industry while hurting economic competition, carbon emissions reduction, emerging technologies, aviation innovation, and service to small communities. Any changes to the regulation should be driven not by the economic interest of competitors, but by an identified safety need.”

In its August 2023 NOI, the FAA endeavored to present its proposed regulatory review as a corollary of the growing number of flights conducted under Part 830—a weak argument insofar as the increase cited by the agency has occasioned no major incidents or accidents under the extant regulatory framework. Ergo, the FAA’s motivations are at best unclear, and at worst malfeasant.

While the number of Part 380 operations has increased over the past decade—primarily in response to declines in commercial airline service to smaller communities—such flights constitute a very small part of the more than 52-million total aircraft operations within the U.S. national airspace system in 2022.

Comments germane to the FAA notice were submitted and co-signed by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), International Flight Services Association (IFSA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

The comments set forth by the aforementioned reflect broader industry concerns pertaining to characterizations of Part 135 operators conducting Part 380 public charter flights in response to one particular carrier’s economic application to the agency to launch such an operation.

The named groups are committed to a robust and comprehensive discussion vis-a-vis repercussions of any regulatory action and recommend the convening of an aviation rulemaking committee charged with facilitating such discussion and consideration. 

FMI: www.nbaa.org


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