The FAA's proposed
charity/sightseeing rule — what they call the National Air
Tour Standards proposal — is bad policy, is not justified by
safety data, and should be withdrawn. Plain and simple, that was
the message AOPA presented on Tuesday at the first of two public
meetings the FAA held to hear from pilots on the proposal.
The FAA gave in and agreed to hold public meetings after months
of pressure by AOPA, members of Congress, and other aviation
groups. The proposed rule would drive nearly all Part 91
sightseeing operators out of business and deplete the pool of
pilots available to help charities with fundraising flights by
nearly 22%. "The FAA is trying to force a rule into place that
doesn't make sense," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA exists
to protect the interests of general aviation, and those interests
are definitely under attack with this proposed rule."
"AOPA's own research showed that the FAA grossly underestimated
the effects of this rule," said AOPA Senior Vice President of
Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula, who made AOPA's
presentation. "The FAA's own estimates indicated that the rule
change would drive approximately 700 of the estimated 1,670 Part 91
sightseeing operations out of business. That alone is an awful
toll, but our numbers show the actual number of businesses forced
to close would be nearly double that — more than 80% of all
Part 91 sightseeing businesses!"
Using data compiled by
the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, Cebula demonstrated that the safety
justification for the proposed rule is based on false premises. The
data included a mixture of Part 135 and Part 91 sightseeing
accidents and was not a true reflection of Part 91 operators'
safety record. And the Air Safety Foundation analysis of accidents
that did involve fixed-wing Part 91 aircraft found that the rule
change might have prevented only a very small handful.
Cebula noted that more than a dozen members from both houses of
Congress and both parties have written to the FAA expressing
concerns about the proposed rule change. He also talked about
serious shortcomings that a report by the Small Business
Administration's Office of Advocacy brought to light.
Echoing AOPA's formal comments on the proposed rule, Cebula told
the FAA that it would be impractical and nearly impossible to
implement and does not reflect an understanding of general
The second and final meeting will be held on May 21 in Las
Vegas, Nevada, in the Commission Chamber at the Clark County
Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas, Nevada