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Wed, Oct 25, 2006

NATA Asks For Rulemaking Commitee On Landing Distance SAFO

Wants All Groups At Table To Hash Out New Restrictions

NATA announced Tuesday it has sent a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, urging her to establish an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to discuss concerns with the recent landing distance assessment Safety Alert for Operators, or SAFO for short.

That SAFO -- announced early last month -- asks commercial operators of turbine-powered aircraft to adopt a voluntary policy to complete a new en-route landing distance assessment, that takes into account current runway conditions and allow a full stop landing with at least a 15% safety margin beyond the actual landing distance.

NATA representatives tell Aero-News the FAA originally intended to impose the policy outright, thru a mandatory Operations Specification (OpSpec)... but partly in response to heavy pressure from NATA, decided to issue the information instead in the form of the voluntary SAFO and pursue formal rulemaking before mandating policy changes.

"The FAA appears to be driven by an accident that occurred while the aircraft was operating under Part 121, and the agency released first a policy statement requiring mandatory compliance, and later a SAFO. Processes contained in both documents draw from a study of Part 121 experience. The Part 135 and 91(K) communities were not specifically considered in the development of this SAFO, nor the notice that preceded it. As a result, the SAFO does not consider the unique needs of these communities and, therefore, leaves many unanswered operational questions," wrote NATA President James K. Coyne.

Coyne explained NATA’s concern, stating, "As it is likely the FAA’s rulemaking will be based upon the SAFO, NATA remains concerned that the ultimate notice of proposed rulemaking may still reflect practices best applied to the Part 121 community and may create unnecessary problems and safety concerns for Part 91(K) and 135 operators."

The letter closes with a request to include the industry in the FAA’s rulemaking, reminding the agency, "Collaborative efforts have proven to be very successful in the past."

"We believe the FAA’s desire to establish new safety margins for landing is precisely the type of issue that an ARC is perfectly suited to address. We hope the FAA will recognize this and establish an ARC," explained Coyne.

FMI: Read The Full Letter

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