Part 91 Subpart K approved amid row over US-registered companies operating in UK

The US Federal Aviation Administration has signed off Part 91 Subpart K, the new rules covering the regulation of fractional operations, with publication in the federal register expected this week. The move comes as the USA and UK attempt to settle a dispute over the operation of US-registered fractional aircraft in the UK.

Work on the Part 91 Subpart K rule began four years ago to regulate the burgeoning fractional ownership market and to appease the increasingly frustrated Part 135 on-demand air taxi community, which complained that there was not a level competitive playing field with fractionals.

Subpart K, developed by the FAA-industry working group - the Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee - imposes more stringent rules and operating guidelines for fractionals, some equivalent to Part 135 regulations, and, says the FAA, "more clearly allocates responsibility and authority for safety of flight operations for purposes of compliance with the regulations".

The FAA has also updated a number of rules covering Part 135 to reflect the current technology and certification standards since the regulation was written in the mid-1960s, says NBAA director of government affairs Doug Carr. Changes include allowing operators to use 85% of runway length for full-stop landings, updating validation tests for aircraft proving runs and easing weather reporting rules.

The rule will take effect in 60 days, "a technical timeframe allowing for the FAA to spread the word", Carr says. New fractionals will then be required to comply immediately with the new rule but existing fractionals are given a 15-month compliance period.

Adoption of the new rule has meanwhile provoked controversy between the US and UK governments, which differ in their interpretation of a private aircraft operation versus a commercial one. According to UK aviation lawyer Ian Clark, while the USA regards fractionals as private operations, in the UK and Europe they are regarded as commercial because a management company is being paid to operate the aircraft. European fractionals are subjected to operating and administrative restrictions which the UK is threatening to impose on US operators, including the need to secure landing permits in advance.

The USA and UK held "productive" talks at the end of August, Clark says, and have another meeting later this month in a attempt to reach an agreement.

Source: Flight International