FAA Addresses Flight Rules For Historic Aircraft

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The FAA on Tuesday announced an end to its four-year moratorium on considering new petitions to conduct “living history flight experiences” in historic aircraft, and detailed the procedures for requesting an exemption. Lifting of the moratorium means new applications can be finalized that would allow flight experiences in airplanes such as World War II warbirds, EAA said. While the change signals “an important first step,” according to Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety, the organization remains “concerned.” Some of the language and terminology used in the FAA document might be interpreted in the field to limit certain aircraft, Elliott said. “We will remain watchful to ensure freedom and consistency for these operations, which are extremely popular,” he said.

In its “notice of policy statement,” posted in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the FAA said it has addressed the issue because “the evolution of LHFE operations in the private sector, along with the availability of newer and more capable former military aircraft, raised new public safety and public policy concerns.” Conditions and limitations for operations grew in number, the FAA said, and in some cases, were misinterpreted as permitting operations that the FAA did not contemplate or intend.Examples included cases of passengers manipulating the aircraft flight controls and proposals for LHFE flights performing aerobatic maneuvers and simulating aerial combat. The FAA said it will now consider applications under its new policy, which spells out a number of criteria that will be considered, for example: the aircraft must be historically significant, replicas will not be considered, a responsible person and operational control structure must be designated, the petitioner must pass a safety review, and manuals and inspection programs must meet FAA criteria.

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