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Fri, Aug 25, 2023

ALPA Applauds DOT and FAA Action Regarding Public Charter Loophole

The Raiments Altruism

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has set forth its intent to examine the so-called public charter loophole that airlines—the proposed SkyWest Charter operation, for example—use to skirt the aviation safety rules that have allegedly led to a 99.8 percent reduction in airline passenger fatalities in the United States.

Earlier this year, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject a proposal from SkyWest to shift its current flying, which operates under the safety-centric provisions of FAR Part 121, to a surrogate airline that it created with the intention of operating the same aircraft with fewer seats under FAR Part 135’s less-stringent safety regulations—which permit less-experienced and less-qualified first officers.

ALPA president Captain Jason Ambrosi stated: “We are grateful to Secretary Buttigieg, Acting Administrator Trottenberg, and the DOT and FAA teams for upholding the highest standards of aviation safety and security in the world. Today, we are experiencing the safest period in U.S. airline history, and now is not the time to lower those standards. The FAA’s announcement that it intends to issue a rulemaking to consider removing the loophole is a significant step in the right direction.”

Under FAR Part 135, Second In Command (SIC) personnel needn’t meet the same standards of training to which Part 121 SICs are held. Additionally, Part 135 SICs are not beholden to the safety-critical SIC qualification rules that Congress authorized in the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010—rules that regional airlines continue to try to weaken. While Part 135 operators have an appropriate role in the national aviation network, the numerous significant aviation safety improvements included in the 2010 bill have helped strengthen pilot training, qualification, and experience requirements for Part 121 pilots. These increased pilot certification requirements have made U.S. skies the safest in the world.

Captain Ambrosi continued: “Some airlines use the public charter loophole to cut costs by skirting lifesaving safety rules, but if they run similar operations as commercial scheduled airlines, then they are not operating as charter, and that’s an issue. ALPA is committed to ensuring that small communities continue to receive robust air service through strong Essential Air Service reform, but that service should never come at the expense of safety. Closing the public charter loophole would be a step forward for safety that will guarantee one level of safety, so passengers flying into small communities can depend on the same safety and security as passengers flying in Atlanta or New York.”

Founded in 1931, and representing upwards of 74,000 pilots in the employ of 42 U.S. and Canadian air carriers, ALPA is the world’s largest and most influential pilots union.



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