FAA Plans Virtual Meeting On Sightseeing NPRM

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The FAA should face the people it's planning to put out of business with a new set of regulations rather than hide in cyberspace, according to AOPA. The FAA has extended the comment period (from Jan. 20 to April 19) for a roundly criticized Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would set national standards for sightseeing and tour operations. The NPRM acknowledges that about 700 firms will likely be put out of the tour business by the tougher rules, which, among other things, would require that all such flights be operated under Part 121 or Part 135 rules. More than 1,100 comments have been received so far. AOPA has been demanding that the FAA set up a series of public meetings to hear directly from affected businesses but the FAA has opted for a high-tech alternative. The agency says it will host an interactive virtual public meeting in which participants can type in their comments, in real time, over the Internet. The initiative has even given birth to a new acronym, the NVPM, which is a Notice of Virtual Public Meeting. The meeting date will be announced in the Federal Register. AOPA President Phil Boyer said the FAA should meet the affected people face-to-face but the agency said it doesn't have the money to hold public meetings all over the country. "Many who could be most affected by the proposed rule would be unable to participate because of geography and our limited resources," said the FAA documents extending the comment period.