Graham Warwick / Washington DC

Proposed new FAA rules could affect transoceanic operations by business jet charters

Proposed US regulations on extended-range operations (ETOPS) will affect international charter operations by business jets, but the impact will depend on the age and capability of the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) extends ETOPS to Part 135 operations for the first time, potentially affecting charter flights across the Atlantic and Pacific and between the USA and Hawaii.

The proposed rule will require aircraft flying more than 180min from an adequate airport to meet ETOPS requirements. If the aircraft complies with the regulations, it will be allowed to operate up to an ETOPS limit of 240min. Aircraft not meeting the requirements will have to remain within 180min of an airport, forcing longer routeings over the Atlantic and Pacific.

The main impact on most Part 135 operators will be in meeting the despatch and flight-following requirements, says Doug Carr, National Business Aviation Association director, government relations. But older business jets with inadequate single-engine range will be barred from ETOPS, he says. Rather than the engine in-flight shutdown rate data used to track airline ETOPS performance, which would take years to accumulate for business jets, operators will be required to analyse, understand and fix any failure that occurs during the ETOPS portion of a flight, says Carr.

Aircraft manufacturers will be required to analyse their designs and post an ETOPS time limit in the flight manual. Modern long-range business jets are designed, but not certificated, to ETOPS standards. The NPRM creates special Part 25 certification standards for new ETOPS-capable aircraft and proposes prohibiting the addition of ETOPS-capable aircraft to an operator's Part 135 certificate, starting eight years after the final rule takes affect, unless they meet the new standards. The US National Air Transportation Association is opposed to the ban after eight years.

Although the NPRM does not affect fractional-ownership companies, which operate under the new Subpart K of the Part 91 rules governing private aircraft, Carr says the FAA and industry undertaking to parallel any changes to Part 135 in Subpart K means the new ETOPS rules will almost certainly have to be applied to fractional operations. Industry comments on the NPRM are due to be received by the FAA by January.

Source: Flight International