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Fri, Apr 21, 2023

FAA Safety Standards Responds to Business Aviation Concerns

Dearth of Check Pilots Hits Operators in the Pocketbook, but Fixes May Be Inbound

The FAA Responded to the NBAA's Part 135 Subcommittee regarding checkride operations for business crews, issuing guidance in the form of a letter from Robert Ruiz, director of the FAA Office of Safety Standards.

The NBAA raised the issue in 2016, inquiring about the ability to accomplish business aviation checkrides through traditional means. Their concerns were strong enough for the NBAA Part 135 Subcommittee to begin hunting down guidance on the issue in November of 2022, after worsening industry conditions further increased the burden on operators. In their letter, they said that current policy forced operators to rely too "heavily on local inspectors", which further exacerbated availability throughout the country as they searched even further for available check airmen. Worse, the issues were "further amplified due to constraints on inspector travel and training for both the industry and FAA. The result of all these reactions? Grounded aircraft and monetary loss all around.

Director of the FAA's Office of Safety Standards Robert Ruiz welcomed the Subcommittee's suggestions on addressing the issues, particularly expanding contracted check pilots. 

“To support greater awareness of this policy, the Air Transportation Division, AFS-200, is willing to partner with NBAA to develop a plan that creates greater awareness of the policy and how to utilize a contract check pilot who may be employed by a different air carrier,” said Ruiz.

“We are grateful for the FAA’s willingness to work with NBAA and our industry to find innovative, and lasting, solutions for this situation,” said Brian Koester, CAM and NBAA director for flight operations and regulations. “Such collaboration will help our industry move forward past current challenges.”

The fixes won't stop coming just yet, either. NBAA Subcommittee chair Michael McCullough said the agency still faces a strong brew of problems.

“Not only is the FAA dealing with the lingering effects from COVID-19, but also with a shortage of qualified personnel and inspectors for certain older aircraft,” he said. “At the same time, the introduction of new aircraft into business aviation fleets has caused a similar lack of check airmen qualified on those types.”

FMI: www.nbaa.org

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