On Monday (June 17) the FAA announced two new actions addressing public charter flights, citing a rapid expansion of “frequency and complexity” of the operations in the past few years. The agency said that some of the charter providers “appear to operate like scheduled airlines but under less-rigorous safety regulations,” that are often not clear to customers.

“The FAA will explore new ways to integrate charter flights into the airspace in a manner that provides flexibility and safe options for all flyers,” the FAA said in a statement. The first act would be to launch rulemaking that  would amend FAR Part 110 definitions of “scheduled,” “on demand” and “supplemental” operations. The object of the new rulemaking would be to subject public charters to operating rules “based on the same safety parameters as other non-public charter operations.”

The plan would apply to charter operators regulated under FAA Part 135 safety rules; and U.S. Department of Transportation Part 380 economic requirements. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said, “If a company is effectively operating as a scheduled airline, the FAA needs to determine whether those operations should follow the same stringent rules as scheduled airlines.”

Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, questioned plans for the new rulemaking on charter operators. He said, “The plan to impose new requirements on these carriers has been introduced without an apparent data-based safety rationale. Additionally, the FAA’s approach to developing the requirements has the potential to relegate to the sidelines the citizens in small communities and other important voices most impacted by this process. 

 “We call upon the FAA to step forward with a data-driven basis that explains the need for this change, and detail its intended process for engaging with all voices in a meaningful dialogue about the agency’s approach to public charter policy.”   

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