NBAA Asks House Committee To Revamp Charter Pilot Rest Rules


Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), recently sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee addressing FAA rest and duty requirements for Part 135 (charter) pilots. In particular, the letter addressed so-called “tail-end ferry legs,” flights flown at the end of a duty day that are currently filed as Part 91 (private) operations and not subject to stricter Part 135 rest requirements. Pilots could fly a rigorous schedule under Part 135, only to face a long ferry leg at the end of the day to reposition the aircraft for the next day’s schedule.

Bolen said, “Currently, an operator may assign, and a pilot may accept, a Part 91 flight at the conclusion of a Part 135 duty period that would have otherwise exceeded the allowable duty limits for Part 135 had the Part 91 flight been considered part of the Part 135 duty period.” Bolen called attention to the recommendations of the Part 135 Pilot Rest and Duty Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) report presented to the FAA almost two years ago in July 2021. “Preventing and mitigating fatigue remains a universal area of concern,” he wrote.

Bolen also wrote about adding language to FAA recordkeeping requirements for charter operators, who are now only required to record flight time. NBAA asserts that “is insufficient for ensuring flight crews receive prospectively scheduled rest and inadequate as an oversight mechanism for the FAA to effectively monitor and enforce these requirements.”

“Eliminating tail-end ferry flights and enhancing recordkeeping requirements is a crucial step toward improving safety,” Bolen said.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Interesting that NBAA is now asking Congress to somehow eliminate the “tail end” pt 91 positioning flights. I have always been told that companies cannot make a pilot accept such a flight since it would exceed the 14 hour duty limit, but a pilot can voluntarily accept such a flight, since it is not under pt135 rules. Besides the unusual inaction by the FAA, this could create a real mess depending on how any such rule is written.

  2. We should all want 135 to achieve the spectacular safety record of 121 flying, as aviators and residents under the flight path of all aircraft. The only way to do that is to put the rules in place that enable such a nearly perfect record. When I transitioned from 121 to 135 CP and check airman, that was always my mind set. This proposed rule would be just one of many that could tighten up 135’s shot group and make it more professional. Yes, it would cost more.

  3. The one I love is “you don’t need an alternate, it’s Part 91″…… really?….

    “do you know how much it will cost us if you don’t go?” …….another doozy!………….

    FAR 91.13 Careless and Reckless (wreck-less if one stays out of the reckless category)…….. this is a catch all for those who bend the 135 rules and pretend that it is all okay “because it is Part 91.

  4. I have no idea how most charter pilots feel about it but having the Part 91 option available would seem to be a huge convenience to all involved, pilots included. Odd it has survived so long against our march toward the nirvana where individual thought, judgement and decision will at last be entirely subsumed by the perfection of all-encompassing bureaucratic control.

    • I have benefited from this many times. It made the difference from having to overnight in some fleabag hotel vs getting to sleep in my own bed at home. So I have mixed feelings on the possible elimination of this option. Fortunately I have never been required to make a pt 91 positioning flight that exceeded 14 hour duty time. Have I volunteered to do so in the past, yes I have.

      • “It made the difference from having to overnight in some fleabag hotel vs getting to sleep in my own bed at home.” Hmm… sounds a little like ‘get homeitis’

  5. It would be interesting to review how many turbine business aircraft accidents involve Part 91 positioning flights, including tail-end ferry flights. In an article I wrote in 2007, over a six-year period, 68 percent of fatal charter-company jet accidents occurred on Part 91 positioning flights. There are (at least) three possible areas of increased risk compared with a revenue Part 135 leg. There have been incidents where pilots tried unusual maneuvers, presumably feeling more comfortable taking the risk without passengers on board; looser weather minimums; and the fatigue factor addressed here, the latter two perhaps enhanced by built-in get-there-itis.
    Another interesting facet of this discussion is ambiguity in how accidents, and safety records, are classified statistically. Is an accident involving a Part 135 operation flying a Part 91 ferry leg classified as a Part 91 accident, or Part 135? Especially with so many owned/corporate aircraft now also being available on a management company’s Part 135 certificate, some flight scenarios are almost hopelessly conflicting. For example, if an aircraft crashes on a personal/business flight with the owner on board, but the flight also serves as a positioning flight for a subsequent charter trip for a third party, is it a Part 91 or Part 135 accident?

  6. If a pilot wants to satisfy his “get-home-itis”, I understand his desire to avoid fleabag hotels. Be careful out there, for your sake + those on the ground below your flight path.

    A single-engine turboprop airline uses this part 91 rule to have their pilots, after their normal flight duty day, ferry the airplane to a maintenance base to exchange for a different one to fly back to their base, resulting in >8 hours flying and a long day. Since the pilots want to keep their jobs, the plane will go, since it’s legal. Fatiguing, though.

    This will be a tough nut to crack!

  7. This is one of those rules that is interpreted differently depending on the FSDO. There are some that say when your duty or flight time is exceeded by one of these pt91 flights you are done. There are others that say it is ok. One company I worked for the owner said that this was legal and had a letter from Washington legal office that said so. Until this “interpretation” stuff ends and the FAA FSDO’s get on the same page, this may be a waste of time.