NATA: IG Report On On-Demand Ops Inaccurate

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The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) believes a report critical of risk management and FAA oversight of the on-demand air charter industry "failed to present an accurate picture of the Part 135 regulatory environment." The report (PDF), recently issued by the DOT Inspector General, was conducted as an audit to answer concerns in a House Committee regarding "disparate regulatory requirements between large commercial and on-demand operators" with attention to "the level of FAA oversight of on-demand operators." It found the fatal accident rate 50 times higher in on-demand operations than commercial operations. In a statement issued Friday, NATA President James K. Coyne was critical of the report's comparisons of Part 121 and Part 135 operations, calling it "an apples and oranges comparison." Coyne noted that Part 135 "contains every possible mission profile" while Part 121 "is very homogenous." The report concluded that on-demand operators have more risk in their operations and see less oversight from the FAA. It went on to issue recommendations "to enhance safety and oversight."

NATA refuted some of the IG's conclusions as drawn from the IG's own interpretation of accident information (as opposed to the NTSB's interpretations). But the report found that the number of fatalities from on-demand operations "makes it imperative" that the FAA enhance safety and oversight of on-demand operators. It cited NTSB recommendations that the FAA has not implemented and recommended implementing an interim risk-assessment oversight process for on-demand operators until a full risk-based approach is implemented, development of risk indicators for that new oversight system, and a milestone-based system to track implementation of safety recommendations.