AVIATION (NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD RULES OF PRACTICE) / This dry title belies the practical significance of these new rules that the Pilot’s Bill of Rights ordered the NTSB to implement. The NTSB sits as an appellate panel to FAA administrative proceedings regarding airmen’s certificates to operate aircraft. These rules are promulgated over FAA disagreement on specific points.

“Rules of Practice in Air Safety Proceedings”

Final Rule. September 19, 2013.

At issue here is the balance of power between a pilot controverting the terms of his or her licensure with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the FAA.

As occurs in other aviation policy settings, here there are material policy differences between the FAA and NTSB and the FAA comments to these rules changes and responses by the NTSB reflect them.

General idea: More fairness to pilots subject to FAA actions against their certificates, emphasizing more timely and complete access to information the FAA (prosecuting authority in such cases) has against the subject pilots 

The highlights:

  1. Rules designed to encourage the FAA to get its Enforcement Investigative Report to the pilot, or the FAA risks NTSB dismissal of the action or other appropriate corrective action against the FAA’s case.
  2. Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil now apply “to the extent practicable”.
  3. Pilots will now have the right to appeal final NTSB orders in either federal district court or the federal court of appeals.

AVIATION (STAGE 3 MANDATE ON BUSINESS JETS) / Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) underscores the fact that its earlier-announced final rule mandating jet airplanes with a maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less operating in the U.S. must be Stage 3 noise compliant – and that this applies to the 69 reported Falcon 20 Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft that are registered in the U.S. Here the FAA notes that a “hushkit” is available for GE Aviation’s CF700 engine on such aircraft.

“Adoption of Statutory Prohibition on the Operation of Jets Weighing 75,000 Pounds or Less That Are Not Stage 3 Noise Compliant”

Final Rule; Disposition of Comments. September 20, 2013.

Here the manufacturer of the CJ 610 engine for Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft, GE Aviation, undertakes to correct “inaccuracies in the section discussing Hush Kits”, in a final rule dated July 2, 2013 that implemented recent legislation (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) that mandated Stage 3 Noise Compliance for business jets (“maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less”). 

GE Aviation pointed out in its comments on the final rule that there was in fact a hush kit available to bring such engines on Falcon 20’s into Stage 3 Noise compliance.

GE Aviation’s letter of correction and comment is available here (click on the blue type, “Adoption of Statutory Prohibition on the Operation of Jets Weighing 75,000 Pounds or Less That Are Not Stage 3 Noise Compliant”).

AVIATION (AIRPORTS) / Federal Aviation Administration “updates, simplifies, and streamlines rules of practice and procedure for filing and adjudicating complaints against federally-assisted airports”.

“Rules of Practice for Federally-Assisted Airport Enforcement Proceedings (Retrospective Regulatory Review)” 

September 12, 2013. Final Rule.

“It improves efficiency by enabling parties to file submissions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) electronically, and by incorporating modern business practices into how the FAA handles complaints. This amendment is necessary to reflect changes in applicable laws and regulations, and to apply lessons learned since the existing rules were implemented in 1996.” Continue reading

AVIATION (AIRPORTS) / Federal Aviation Administration hereby, “publishes the entire Policy Regarding Airport Rates and Charges currently in effect in a single document”. This new comprehensive document does not either adopt or propose substantive changes to existing regulation.

“Policy Regarding Airport Rates and Charges”

September 10, 2013. Notice; Publication Of Entire Policy Statement As Amended. Continue reading

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

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

AVIATION (PROPOSED CANCELATION OF NDB AND VHF-VOR CAPABILITIES) / Notice of Proposed Policy and Request for Comment – “The FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] is considering the cancellation of certain Non-directional Beacon (NDB) and Very High Frequency (VHF) Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR) instrument approach procedures (IAP) at airports that have multiple instrument approach procedures. The FAA proposes specific criteria to guide the identification and selection of appropriate NDB and VOR instrument approach procedures that can be considered for cancellation. The VOR IAPs associated with this cancellation initiative would be selected from the criteria outlined below. This Notice is not a part of the FAA’s VOR minimum operating network (MON) initiative.”

FAA’s reasoning: “As, new technology facilitates the introduction of area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures over the past decade, the number of procedures available in the National Airspace System has nearly doubled. The complexity and cost to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of maintaining the existing ground based navigational infrastructure while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable.”

“Proposed Policy for Discontinuance of Certain Instrument Approach Procedures” 

August 2, 2013. Notice Of Proposed Policy And Request For Comment

AVIATION (FAA CERTIFICATION OF AIRCRAFT) / Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced: “The FAA is streamlining aircraft certification and approval processes to keep pace with technological advancements in aviation products and to help the United States maintain global competitiveness. The plan responds to recommendations in the May 2012 Aircraft Certification Process Review and Reform Aviation Rulemaking Committee report to enhance the efficiency of getting new products to market while improving safety.”

FAA announcement available here.

Plan itself available here.

AVIATION (FLIGHT DATA RECORDERS) / Amends the operating regulations (14 C.F.R.) for flight data recorders by correcting errors in recording rates in three different appendices.

“Flight Data Recorder Airplane Parameter Specification Omissions and Corrections.”

July 3, 2013. Final Rule; Request for comments.

“This final rule amends three appendices in 14 CFR related to flight data recorder (FDR) requirements.

First, Appendix E to part 91 is amended to correct what appears to be a typographical error introduced when the rule was published. Currently, for the altitude parameter, the sampling rate per second is listed as 11. The correct rate has always been 1 sample per second. A review of the original typewritten document that was submitted for publication suggests that a stray mark caused the number to be translated as 11. The sample rate of 1 per second was in the proposed rule (53 FR 4314; February 12, 1988) and the final rule (54 FR 34284; August 18, 1989). Since a sample rate of 11 is unknown in the industry and compliance would require a major airplane equipment modification, affected operators have understood that this was a typographical error, and complied with the 1 sample per second rate. Despite the age of the error, this correction does not comprise the adoption of a different standard that will affect airplanes operating under these regulations since any initial misunderstandings have been clarified when the agency was contacted.”

“The second and third corrections concern identical standards in Appendix M to part 121 and Appendix E to part 125. In each Appendix, footnote 5 was added following a petition for rulemaking from Airbus Industries and subsequent rulemaking to adopt the changes (64 FR 46117; August 24, 1999), as evidenced by the discussion in the preamble to that rule. However, the current regulation lists only the adjustment for the resolution, and not the sampling interval. This action puts the sampling interval of once per second back in to the footnote for the affected airplanes. Since the airplane can be operated under parts 121 or 125 using the identical standard, the appendices for each are being corrected.”

“None of these changes will require action by airplane owners, operators or manufacturers as the affected airplanes already comply with the requirements of the originally adopted rules and the corrections adopted here. Since these requirements were intended in the original rules, there is no new impact on safety. The correction of these errors and omissions will prevent future confusion and require less contact between the FAA and regulated entities who must comply with the regulations.”