...This Is How It Hurts
If the FAA wants a tally of the impact of the proposed rule, they might ask Harry and Loree Hirschmann, who opened a biplane sightseeing business in San Francisco last year. "It's a nice little business and we intended to grow into it but we're going to get stopped in our tracks if this goes through," Harry told the Contra Costa Times. Golden Gate Biplane Adventures now operates under a provision that allows sightseeing tours within 25 miles of the base airport to remain under Part 91 rules. The NPRM would eliminate that provision. Harry estimates the cost of converting from a Part 91 to Part 135 or Part 121 operator at a minimum of $60,000 a year, which he said is unrealistic for his business. To make the upgrade, businesses like Golden Gate would have to hire a dispatcher, have their own maintenance personnel and training programs and create an FAA-approved training program and manual. "It's like taking a kid with a paper route and requiring a maintenance person in the garage," AOPA spokesman Jeff Myers told the Times. At least one helicopter tour operator interviewed by the Times saw a benefit to the new rules. Rather than strictly operating sightseeing trips, John DuGan, of Bay Aeriel Helicopter Tours, said the proposal would allow him to expand into the charter business. "The more things you can offer, the more you're going to survive," he said.