NATA "Shocked" At FAA's Hint Of New Part 135 Fatigue Rules

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The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is "deeply concerned" about language in the FAA's proposed rules addressing pilot hours-of-service that suggest changes could be pending for Part 135 operations, the group said on Wednesday. The FAA's proposal is aimed at fighting crew fatigue in Part 121 airline operations, but in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FAA states that "part 135 operations are very similar to those conducted under part 121..." and that the Part 135 operator should "expect to see an NPRM addressing its operations that looks very similar to, if not exactly like, the final rule the agency anticipates issuing as part of this rulemaking initiative." For the FAA to compare operations under Part 121 and 135 as "similar" is "ridiculous," according to NATA President James Coyne.

"Anyone who has any inkling of the vast array of operations that take place and geographic settings common within the Part 135 community would know better than to make this ridiculous comparison," he said. "The fact that the statement came from our aviation regulatory authority makes me wonder just how familiar the FAA is with the makeup of the Part 135 community and question the agency's commitment to honoring the letter and spirit of rulemaking guidance that requires the FAA to consider the specific costs, benefits and regulatory alternatives that may be appropriate for different types of operators." Coyne added that an industry committee worked with FAA staff several years ago to draft a comprehensive proposal creating a new regulatory system for on-demand operators, which addresses concerns about pilot fatigue. "I hope the FAA will not scrap a comprehensive, well-thought-out proposal that could have been implemented years ago instead of allowing it to collect dust," Coyne said. "NATA supports the revised pilot flight, duty and rest regulations contained in that proposal and encourages the FAA to take action on it rather than trying to fit nonscheduled pilots and operations into the rigid scheduled airline model."