AVIATION (ASDI LIMITATIONS) / Federal Aviation Administration finalizes the process by which aircraft owners and operators may ask the FAA to limit the FAA’s dissemination of their aircraft data by means of the Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data feed to the airline industry.

“Access to Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) and National Airspace System Status Information (NASSI) Data”

August 21, 2013. Final Notice Of The Process For Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed Via ASDI.

ASDI is a data feed hosted by U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center. This data feed is made available to airlines for purposes of safety. It includes information about aircraft location, together with data relating to altitude, airspeed, destination and various additional points. Continue reading

RAILROAD (Post-Lac-Mégantic Developments) / PHMSA held their two-day meeting in late August to discuss regulatory responses, then PHMSA issued a formal call for ideas in the form of an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Canada’s counterpart to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, wrote to PHMSA and Transport Canada (1) calling for new labeling regulations for flammable liquids carried in railcars, and (2) questioning the adequacy of Class 111 tank cars for carrying “low flash” flammable liquids like crude oil.

The September 11 letters from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada should catch the attention of this sector for their specificity and, each in their own way, far-reaching potential industry impact (letter to Transport Canada here, and letter to PHMSA here). Of course the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, like its U.S. counterpart, the NTSB, has a persuasive voice – but it is up to Transport Canada and PHMSA, respectively, to actually issue new rules.

In addition, post- Lac-Mégantic proposals are pending in the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament.

PHMSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – again, a document that is actually an extended call for comments without offering a template bearing the agency’s imprimatur (yet) – is available here.

It is hard to overstate the regulatory significance of the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe for carriage of crude oil by rail tank car operations. 

NEW RULES & DECISIONS CONTENTS SUMMARY FOR WEEK OF 8/12/2013

CLICK ON SUMMARY BELOW TO ACCESS THE BLOG POST

A. TOPICS BY TRANSPORT MODE.

Aviation

Motor Carriers

 Railroads 

B. TOPICS BY TRANSPORT POLICY.

C. TOPICS BY AGENCY INITIATIVE.

No post this week.

D. TOPICS BY LEGAL DISCIPLINE.

Employment Law

E. NOTEWORTHY CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT, CIVIL ACTIONS or INSPECTOR GENERAL AUDITS.

AVIATION (ENHANCED FLIGHT VISION SYSTEMS) / The Federal Aviation Administration announces availability for comment of two advisory circular drafts relating to Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) relating to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking announced June 13, 2013 – the first consisting of rules for EFVS operations, and the second consisting of guidance on getting airworthiness approvals for EFVS & related equipment. The gist of EFVS: Instrumentation that provides a graphic portrayal in place of natural vision to descend to specified altitudes where visibility at the destination airport is below authorized minimums.

Note well: Concerning Enhanced Flight Vision Systems, the proposed advisory circular about EFVS operations covers substantially the entire waterfront of aviation operations – Parts 91 (general operating and flight rules), 121 (scheduled air carrier), 125 (certification of larger aircraft – 20 or more passengers or maximum payload capacity 6,000 pounds or more), 129 (foreign air carriers and foreign operators), and 135 (commuter and on-demand operations) of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

“Availability of Draft Advisory Circular (AC) 90-106A and AC 20-167A”

 August 13, 2013. Notice of Availability for Comment. Continue reading

MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS-OF-SERVICE / OIL FIELD) / Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) responds to earlier public comments motor carrier rules about hours-of-service requirements for oilfield operations: First, for specially trained drivers of commercial motor vehicles that are built specifically to service the oil wells themselves (a lengthy specific list), the so-called “oilfield-waiting-time” provision will continue to exclude from on-duty time such time as they spend waiting at the well site (oil or gas). Second, commercial motor vehicles that transport equipment, water (for fracking) and sand (for fracking) – a list is given – do NOT qualify for the “oilfield-waiting-time” provision to exclude their waiting time at the well site from total hours-of-service calculation.

Note well: “Oilfield-waiting-time” has been the topic of debate in the industry since the old Interstate Commerce Commission first issued hours-of-service rules for motor carriers in 1939. The lists of those whose equipment and operations  qualify for the “oilfield-waiting-time” exclusion to hours-of-service and those whose equipment and operations do not qualify are long and detailed. And for those businesses who believe their equipment and operations are not adequately described, FMCSA invites them to apply for an exemption: “Therefore, motor carriers that believe the current oilfield operations exceptions do not provide sufficient relief for their operations should consider submitting an application for an exemption to the Agency describing an alternative that would ensure the requisite level of safety.”

“Hours of Service of Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles; Regulatory Guidance for Oilfield Exception”

August 12, 2013. Notice Of Regulatory Guidance; Response To Public Comments.

MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS-OF-SERVICE / SHORT-HAUL) In its ruling on the third round of court challenges to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) most recent version of its hours-of-service rules originally issued in 2011, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in what the court called “a protracted rulemaking [that] traces its beginnings to 1999” – held: Affirmed the rule generally and vacated only the FMCSA’s application of the 30-minute break provision to short-haul drivers.

American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. FMCSA et al., No. 12-1092 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, August 2, 2013). Copy of court-issued opinion available here.

MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS-OF-SERVICE / SHORT-HAUL) / In response to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit immediately above, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues “guidance” August 8 to explain how the FMCSA will enforce the hours-of-service rules subject to the court’s ruling concerning enforcement of the rule in regard to short-haul drivers.

August 8, 2013. Guidance.