Current Regulatory Issues

FAA Proposes Changes to Aircraft Registration

On February 28, 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)  proposing major changes in its aircraft registration requirements.

HAI will make a formal response to the proposal prior to the May 28 deadline, for public comments on the proposed rule change.  HAI members are encouraged to review the proposed changes and to submit their comments to HAI at david.york@rotor.org and directly to the Federal Aviation Administration at regulations.gov.

The FAA justifies the new proposal by acknowledging the current aircraft registration system is in shambles.  According to FAA research, as many as 104,000 of the more than 343,000 U.S. registered aircraft, nearly one third, may no longer be eligible for registration.  According to FAA research, in recent years:

  • 7,000 aircraft have been reported as sold by their former owners without the purchasers making application for registration. 
  • 4,700 have started registration without completing the requirements with about 2,100 of those being in the “registration-pending” category for more than 12 months.
  • Approximately 30,100 aircraft are known to have bad addresses that have been incorrect for longer than 30 days;
  • Close to 14,700 aircraft have had their certificates of registration revoked due to bad addresses, yet remain in the system to prevent reassignment of their U.S. registration number until the FAA is positive the aircraft is no longer operating with that N-number. Up to 41,000 additional unidentified aircraft are estimated to be inactive or possibly no longer eligible for registration. 

   
These gaping holes in the current registration system have serious safety implications.  The FAA uses aircraft records to identify owners of specific aircraft so that safety related information such as airworthiness directives, can be delivered to owners.  Because of inaccurate information, many safety-related mailings are returned without delivery.  Aircraft manufacturers also use FAA aircraft records to provide owners of aircraft with safety related materials; because of the bad addresses in the system; they are often unable to do this in a timely manner.

In its NPRM, to correct these problems, the FAA proposes:

  • The periodic expiration of all Certificates issued after the effective date of the proposed rule with a registration renewal process;
  • A 3-year phase in re-registration process for renewal of existing Certificates;
  • Elimination of the present Triennial Aircraft Registration Report program in its entirety;
  • Limits on the time an aircraft may remain in the "sale reported" category before its N-Number assignment is canceled ("sale reported'' means the FAA has received notice of a sale from the last registered owner, but no application for registration has been filed, and the aircraft has not been registered to the new owner);
  • Limits on the time an applicant or successive applicants have to complete the registration process and provisions for reserving the aircraft's N-Number, and  Cancellation of the N-number of an aircraft registered under a Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate (Dealer's Certificate), if the Dealer's Certificate has expired and application for registration has not been made under FAR 47.31.

Under the NPRM, all aircraft Certificates would include an expiration date.  Once issued, a new Certificate would expire 3 years from the last day of the month in which it is issued. Aircraft owners could renew the Certificate for successive three-year terms if he or she completes and submits a renewal request form and pays the applicable fee. Any subsequent Certificates issued through "renewal" would expire 3 years after the expiration date of the previous certificate.

Currently registered aircraft would need to be "re-registered" within a 3-year phase-in period. The month in which the aircraft was originally registered would dictate specifically when during that 3-year period the aircraft would need to be "re-registered". Each aircraft would have a 3-month window within which to accomplish the re-registration.

Aircraft owners would receive a notice from the Registry approximately 120 days before the expiration date on a Certificate along with the Aircraft Registration Renewal form. The aircraft owner could then either mail in the Aircraft Registration Renewal form and fee, or if there were no change in registration information, he or she could file the completed form and pay the fee electronically through the Registry's web site. If an aircraft owner does not "re-register" his or her aircraft within the time allowed, the aircraft's Certificate would expire and, after 30 days, the FAA could administratively cancel the aircraft's N-number.

Currently, the FAA charges $5.00 to issue a new Certificate, however, in the NPRM, the FAA notes that this fee does not cover the FAA's costs of registration and, if it gets its way with passage of a re-authorization bill which allows it to recover its administration costs for services rendered, the cost for a 3-year certificate or renewal could rise to $45.  The Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) estimates it could go as high as $130 every three years. 

The NPRM also sets deadlines beyond which an aircraft registration may not remain in either the "sale reported" or "registration pending" categories. ("Registration pending'' means the FAA has received evidence of ownership change and an application for registration, but due to various reasons is not able to complete the registration of the aircraft). Under the NPRM, an aircraft registration could remain in the "sale reported'' category for 6 months, in the "registration pending'' category for 12 months and, since the categories are distinct, up to a maximum of 18 months between the two categories. If the time limits are exceeded, the FAA could cancel assignment of N-numbers.

Additionally, an aircraft owner would have 12 months as the maximum time that the pink copy of the application for registration, including any subsequently issued extensions, could be used as temporary authority to operate the aircraft after ownership has transferred, and registration requirements have not been met. If the aircraft owner does not complete the registration of the aircraft within the 12-month period, he or she would not be able to legally operate the aircraft.

Comments to the NPRM are due no later than May 28, 2008 and must be identified by Docket Number FAA-2008-0188. Comments may be sent using any of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov; U.S. Mail to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590.

 


Upcoming Regulatory Deadlines

FAA Proposes to Amend Standards for Flight Simulation Training Devices

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to amend the Qualification Performance Standards (QPS) for flight simulation training devices (FSTD) and add a new level of simulation for helicopter flight training devices. The FAA proposes to codify existing practice by requiring all existing FSTD visual scenes that are beyond the number required for qualification to meet specified requirements. The proposal also reorganizes certain sections of the QPS appendices and provides additional information on validation tests, established parameters for tolerances, acceptable data formats, and the use of alternative data sources. The proposed changes would ensure that the training and testing environment is accurate and realistic, would codify existing practice, and would provide greater harmonization with the international standards document for simulation. None of these proposed technical requirements would apply to simulators qualified before May 30, 2008, except for the proposal to codify existing practice regarding certain visual scene requirements.  

You may submit comments electronically on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, by mail or hand delivery at Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001, or by fax at 202-493-2251. Comments must be identified by the Docket Number “FAA-2002-12461,” and must be received on or before December 21, 2007.   

FAA Review of Existing Regulations

Between now and January 14, 2008, the FAA is accepting comments on the regulations you would put at the top of your hit list for amendment or repeal. You can submit comments on up to three regulations, listed in order of priority, that you would like to change and/or eliminate. If you make a compelling enough case, the FAA might just add your suggestions to its regulatory agenda. 
 
HAI will be submitting a formal response to this invitation for comment. However, we would certainly like to hear from you about which FAA regulations you believe are in the most need of repair or repeal.    

Please send your comments or suggestions to david.york@rotor.org by January 7. Click here to see the FAA’s notice inviting the public’s suggestions, as well as the format for submitting comments. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued, and requested comments on, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes performance requirements for certain avionics equipment on aircraft operating in specified classes of airspace within the United States National Airspace System. The proposed rule would facilitate the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) for aircraft surveillance by FAA and Department of Defense air traffic controllers to accommodate the expected increase in demand for air transportation. In addition to accommodating the anticipated increase in operations, this proposal, if adopted, would provide aircraft operators with a platform for additional flight applications and services. HAI has reviewed the NPRM and prepared this summary containing information about the NPRM, and analysis of the proposed avionics requirements. 

Those wishing to submit comments on the NPRM must do so on or before March 3, 2008. You may send comments identified by Docket Number FAA-2007-29305 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically. Comments may also be sent by mail or hand delivery to Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001, or by fax at 202-493-2251. In order to help HAI more fully understand its members’ positions on the NPRM, HAI requests that if you plan to submit a comment, please forward a copy to the Regulations and International Affairs staff by fax at 703-683-4745, or by e-mail at david.york@rotor.org.  


New Regulatory Guidance

FAA Issues Revised Guidance—And New Deadline---On Operational Control. 

On May 25, 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration issued revised guidance to principal inspectors (PIs) to ensure standardized compliance with the operational control requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations parts 119 and 135.

 

Included in this Notice is a sunset provision that will rescind  “obsolete” operations specifications (OpSpecs) authorizing part 135 operations for operators who have not amended their OpSpecs in accordance with Notice N 8000.347, which was issued in December 2006.

 

All part 135 operators are encouraged to review the new N 8900.4.

 

The FAA issued Notice N 8000.347, Operational Control: Revised Operations Specifications A008 and A002, on December 28, 20006.  That Notice required PIs to advise part 119 certificate holders with OpSpecs authorizing part 135 operations that the FAA intended to amend OpSpecs A008 and A002 and included a target date of no later than March 15, 2007 for issuance of amended OpSpecs.  However, as of March 15, the FAA determined that approximately 20 percent of all certificate holders authorized to conduct operations under part 135 had not been issued amended OpSpecs A002 and A008.

 

N 8900.4 states, “Accordingly, the Flight Standards Service has determined June 30, 2007 to be the sunset date for pre-revision 100 paragraphs A002 and pre-revision 020 paragraphs A008.  After June 30, 2007, these obsolete OpSpecs will be rescinded, and operators who have not been issued amendment paragraphs referenced in N8000.347 will no longer have an approved operational control system and, therefore, will no longer be authorized to conduct part 135 operations until the amended OpSpecs are issued.” 

N 8900.4 also includes guidance which has been developed to augment N 8000.347 concerning operational control, two-tier operational control system, lease agreements, payments, insurance arrangements, holding out, operator responsibility to ensure a sustainable transfer, inspections, surveillance and investigations and the use of “doing business as” names (DBAs).   

FAA Issues Notice Concerning New HEMS Weather Tool 

Notice N 8000-333 provides principal operations inspectors assigned to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 135 certificate holders conducting helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations guidance on the approval of such operators to use the Aviation Digital Data System (ADDS) experimental HEMS ceiling and visibility weather product. The ADDS is available through the ADDS Experimental Site at www.weather.aero/hems. The site contains a tutorial as well as "frequently asked questions." 

Operators may not use the ADDS in any way to support IFR operations.  The only approved use of this tool is in VFR operations and then only in the context of supporting a “no-go” decision.  Operators may not use the tool as the sole source for decisions to “Go.”  They may only use established primary products such as METARs, TAFs, area forecasts, weather depiction charts, prognosis charts, etc., to make both “Go” and “No-Go” decisions.

Note:  HEMS operators who elect to use the new HEMS C&V tool should amend their existing OpSpec paragraph A010 by inserting the following text in subparagraph (a) after the approved weather information entry: “The FAA has authorized the certificate holder to use the experimental ADDS HEMS Tool to support VFR flight planning.  The HEMS tool controls only in the negative (it is applicable only in the “no-go” decision).  The certificate holder may not conduct flight operations based solely on an indication by the ADDS HEMS tool that safe conditions have been assessed along the proposed route of flight.”   

FAA Issues Notice Concerning Operational Control

Notice N 8000-347 provides revised guidance and a mandatory revision for operations Specification (OpSpec) A008, Operational Control, and OpSpec A002, Definitions and Abbreviations, for principal operations inspectors responsible for Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 119 certificate holders conducting operations under 14 CFR part 135. The notice was issued to address a problem in the air carrier industry relating to the development of commercial arrangements that, at the very least, call into question whether an air carrier has control of its operations purportedly conducted under the authority of its certificate. The revised OpSpec A008 outlines existing regulations and case law.

FAA Issues Notice Concerning Night Vision Goggles

Notice N 8000-349 provides guidance to principal operations inspectors when evaluating a Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 135 operator’s request for use of night vision goggles (NVG).  This guidance covers the evaluation of the operator’s formal application, revision to the General Operations Manual, the addition of an NVG training program, and Minimum Equipment List.