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Mon, Feb 23, 2004

FAA 'Virtual Public Meeting On Charity/Sightseeing Rule Begins This Week

AOPA: No Substitute For Face-To-Face

The FAA's "virtual public meeting" on the agency's proposed charity/sightseeing rule, which is really nothing more than a week-long Internet chat session in which the agency will respond during normal business hours to comments submitted, will begin next Monday, Feb. 23. The FAA is holding the chat session in lieu of real public meetings, despite calls from Congress and AOPA for the face-to-face sessions.

"As anyone who has ever misinterpreted the intent of an e-mail message can tell you, it's almost impossible to convey the emotion of argument electronically," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "That's why we consider face-to-face meetings so vital in this case. But since the 'virtual' meeting is the avenue the FAA has chosen, we urge pilots to take part."

In October 2003, the FAA published a proposed rule that would:

Increase the minimum number of flight hours from 200 to 500 for pilots who volunteer/donate their time and aircraft, providing airplane rides to raise funds for charities;

Change the regulations governing sightseeing operations conducted within 25 nm of an airport, requiring these operators to obtain commercial certification under Part 135, shutting down over 40-percent of these small businesses, many of which fly classic aircraft. It would also impose new requirements for air tour flights.

The online public meetings published in the Federal Register on February 10, 2004, will run from 9:00 a.m. EST February 23 to 4:30 p.m. EST March Beginning Monday at 9 a.m., pilots may access the online public meeting. Under the "View Docket/Comments" column, click on "Enter Public Meeting," then follow the instructions to participate in the discussion.

"The virtual meeting would be an acceptable addition to, but is no substitute for, face-to-face meeting," said Boyer.

FMI: www.faa.gov/avr/arm/rulemakingforum.cfm?nav=part

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