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Fri, Oct 16, 2009

FAA Denies Collings Foundation Flight Exemption Requests

Unable To Fly F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk, Me-262 and Fieseler Co. Fi-156 Storch With Passengers

The FAA recently denied the Collings Foundation's request for flight exemptions for the F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk, Me-262 replica, and Fieseler Co. Fi-156 Storch.

Collings Foundation A-4, F-4 Formation

The exemptions are required for the foundation to accept donations for flight experiences in these historic aircraft. The foundation says its "unique living history" programs for these aircraft will be dead in their tracks without these critical exemptions.

"Collings has included four aircraft in its request that do not meet the requirements for an exemption," the FAA said in denying Collings' request. "The FAA's "Exemptions for Passenger Carrying Operations Conducted for Compensation and Hire in Other Than Standard Category Aircraft" (72 FR 57196; 10/09/07) policy states that aircraft must meet the test of being historically significant in the context of U.S. aeronautical history. The Fieseler Co. Fi-156 Storch is a World War II German reconnaissance aircraft that does not meet the policy requirement of being a historically significant aircraft. Therefore, the petitioner's request to include the Fieseler Co. Fi-156 Storch in this exemption is denied.

The Classic Fighter Me-262 is a replica of a World War II German aircraft that does not meet the policy requirement of being a historically significant aircraft. Therefore, the petitioner's request to include the Classic Fighter Me-262 in this exemption is denied."

Collings Foundation Me-262 Replica

Collings Foundation disagrees with the FAA conclusion that "in the context of U.S. aeronautical history" neither the Fi-156 Storch nor the Me-262 satisfied "the policy requirement of being a historically significant aircraft."  They say the Fi-156 Storch and Me-262 denial by the FAA was arbitrary and contrary to FAA policy.

The foundation contends there is no requirement in the FAA's policy 72 FR 57197 stating that the historical significance be "in the context of U.S. aeronautical history".  They say the Storch and Me-262 aircraft are most definitely historically significant, and feel they may be more so that many aircraft already approved for flight exemptions.

Regarding the F-4 and the TA-4J, the FAA concludes: "While the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and the McDonnell Douglas TA-4J may meet the historically significant test, the FAA must consider that permitting the public to experience flights in an aircraft that while in U.S. military service required the installation of an ejection seat raises a safety concern that has not been adequately addressed. Until the petitioner provides sufficient information on the means by which it ensures an equivalent level of safety, the FAA will not grant an exemption authorizing operations with the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and the McDonnell Douglas TA-4J. Therefore, the petitioner's request to include the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and the McDonnell Douglas TA-4J in this exemption is denied."

The Collings Foundation says it already has an ejection seat training program that was approved by the FAA. In actuality, they say their ejection seat training program goes well beyond the standard United States Air Force program. The foundation says it ensures the total understanding, compliance and competency of the ejection seat protocol and procedures.

Collings Foundation Storch

The foundation is currently unable to offer Flight Experiences in the Me-262, F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk and Feisler Storch. Without the ability to offer flight experiences in these aircraft, they say they will not be able to cover the operational expenses, and, the foundation says, denies "these unique aviation treasures and (the) living history programs surrounding these aircraft ... to the general public."

FMI: www.collingsfoundation.org

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