HAI: "Public" Ops Need Clarity

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The aviation industry needs to form a working group to help clarify the rules that apply to public-use aircraft operations, Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro said on Friday. The distinction currently is often blurred, Zuccaro said, especially for contract operators. He added that most contract flights that are now flown as public-use actually could be accomplished under FAA rules. Zuccaro took part in the NTSB forum on public-use operations held on Wednesday and Thursday, last week.

The FAA says that under the public-use rules, the government agency operating or contracting for the mission -- not the FAA -- assumes the legal responsibility for the safe operation and maintenance of that aircraft. Yet at last week's hearing, according to HAI, agencies and contract operators repeatedly said they operate within the FARs with only a few exceptions, such as transporting hazardous materials or carrying Class D external loads. Zuccaro said he feels strongly about the need for a working group, and added that if asked by the NTSB, would be willing to sponsor the group.