US administration has agreed to extend online meetings to garner feedback and will hold gatherings next month

The US Federal Aviation Administration has bowed to pressure from the business and general aviation industry and US Congress and agreed to hold public meetings to discuss the impact of its charity/sightseeing notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the air tour community. The agency has also extended the formal comment period for the second time, from 19 April to 18 June.

The decision is a welcome fillip for the industry, which has universally condemned the FAA for holding an online meeting to garner feedback on the unwelcome NRPM which seeks to shake up the regulations and require certification of all Federal Aviation Regulation Part 91 air tour and sightseeing operations under Part 135 or Part 121 commercial rules. The NPRM proposes to establish, under a new subpart, stricter operational requirements for low-level flight, stand-off distance, visibility limits, cloud clearance and over-water operations.

Charity flights will remain under Part 91, but the NPRM also proposes raising the minimum number of hours required for private pilots conducting charity fundraising flights from 200h to 500h.

The industry, which is supported by the US Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, says the new proposal could lead to the closure of thousands of businesses and is calling for the NPRM to be withdrawn (Flight International 13-19 April).

The FAA says it decided to hold the online meeting, which attracted around 1,000 participants, as many of the affected parties are located in small communities around the country.

"Congress asked us to also hold public meetings so concerns could be addressed directly to FAA representatives. We agreed to do so due to the strong interest in the proposed rule," it adds.

Since the proposal was published last October the FAA has received more than 2,100 overwhelmingly negative comments.

The meetings will be held in Washington DC on 11 May and in Las Vegas on 21 May.


Source: Flight International