May 16, 2011

NBAA is closely monitoring the progress of an FAA rule that would require annual proficiency checks for single-piloted, turbojet-powered aircraft. The Office of Management and Budget began reviewing the final rule in mid-April, which typically is the final step before a rule is published.

“OMB is conducting essentially a cost-benefit analysis and economic evaluation of the impact of the rule,” said Doug Carr, NBAA Vice President of Safety, Security and Regulation. “So it very well could be another 30-60 days before we see it.”

Carr said it’s not clear what changes, if any, OMB may make to FAA’s initial proposal, which was issued in August, 2009. While the comment period has passed, Carr said NBAA is monitoring the final rule’s progress as it works its way through OMB.

FAA proposed adding the proficiency requirement for single-piloted turbojets in response to the growing popularity of a new category of aircraft – VLJ’s. According to FAA officials, there were roughly 1,550 single-piloted turbojets on the market at the time the rule was proposed. Of those, the agency said only about 325 were ever flown with a single pilot.

“FAA saw the growing number of single-pilot turbojet aircraft that have similar performance characteristics as those with two engines,” said Carr. “The only difference between multi- and single-pilot aircraft is the annual proficiency checking requirement.”

In the proposal, FAA expressed concern that, “PICs could take a flight review in a small general aviation aircraft and still fly legally and carry passengers in single-piloted turbojet-powered airplanes that are capable of operating at speeds of 500 knots…” Adding the proficiency requirement is designed to ensure that doesn’t happen, according to FAA.

In the proposal, the agency said the cost of proficiency checks can vary by type of aircraft and whether they are performed in a simulator or on an airplane. Typically, however, it said checks cost between $600 and $2,000 per hour. FAA adds that many insurance companies already require the annual checks, so most pilots of single-piloted turbojets already have them.

Carr said it’s important that NBAA members understand that the proposal is in the final stages. “We’re aware of it and know the implications of it,” said Carr. “We continue to work with OMB and FAA in the process to minimize the negative impact this may have on the membership.”

Review the FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking