...Higher Costs, More Hassles...

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Although it can be argued that Part 91 operators will be the hardest hit, larger companies are also counting up the costs. Jim Cruson, president of Air Vegas, one of the biggest air tour companies in the country, says some of the proposed regulations will hit his firm squarely in the bottom line. For instance, his company's fleet of 10 Beech 99s routinely flies over Lake Mead and the new rules would require all passengers to be wearing an inflatable flight vest for the duration of each flight. "It's ridiculous," said Cruson. Besides the added expense, there is also the time lost showing people how to wear and operate the vests. The life-vest rule would apply regardless of the size of the body of water or altitude and gliding-distance criteria. The water overflight rules will cost helicopter operators even more, however. The agency proposes that helicopters used for sightseeing be equipped with emergency floats that will keep them upright in an emergency ditching. The agency's own estimates peg the cost for each helicopter at between $19,000 and $39,000.