...As Safety Record Is Disputed...

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EAA said the safety statistics cited by the FAA fail to prove that there is any problem. "Nearly all of the accidents referenced in the NPRM occurred during operations that were either being conducted under a Part 135 certificate or were otherwise in violation of existing and adequate regulations," EAA said. "This leads us to believe that compliance and a lack of enforcement of existing regulations is at the heart of any notable safety deficiencies rather than a need for changing the regulations themselves." Already more than 1,800 comments have been filed to the NPRM docket, and the comment period extends until April 19.

The NPRM also would raise the minimum flight time for private pilots participating in charitable events from 200 hours to 500, and would require more recordkeeping by organizers. In its comments, EAA said it "opposes in the strongest terms" the inclusion of additional requirements on these operations. "Our Young Eagles program has successfully flown more than one million children and young adults over the last decade with a safety record that is remarkable," EAA said. Other GA advocacy groups are also working together to urge the FAA to recall the current NPRM, including AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), Helicopter Association International, and the United States Air Tour Association. AOPA has called the proposal "a real slap in the face to private pilots who contribute their time and services to worthy causes, and to small business people just trying to earn an income." To view the NPRM comments, or add one of your own, go to the federal docket site and search for No. FAA-1998-4521, National Air Tour Safety Standards.