June 23, 2021

The announcement of a newly streamlined FAA process for letter of authorization (LOA) applications headlined a June 23 NBAA News Hour webinar examining the intricacies of international operations as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thankfully, after almost a year of being restricted to fly internationally, things are finally starting to open up again,” said Clement Meersseman, senior advisor for international procedures at Aviation Manuals, which sponsored the session. “It’s a great time to remind all operators that you do want to have procedures in place.”

Now in beta testing, the new process amends the current requirement for obtaining individual LOAs on certain installed equipment. Instead, statements of compliance would be issued for common equipment installed in specific aircraft types.

“If you have five [operators] that all went through the same training, all have the same vendor obtained manual and have the same airplane, why does there need to be this iterative review process when we can have that pre-vetted and pre-concurred upon once at the national level?” noted Gulfstream Flight Test Manager Justin Maas.

Rather than seeking out what could be several individual LOAs in the aircraft manual, Maas added, new “window stickers” will allow operators to quickly verify equipment compliance to inspectors. That change should provide a bit of welcome relief to operators already struggling with ever-changing requirements as international operations return to more “normal” levels.

For example, some operators are just now encountering changes enacted in a November 2020 harmonization of Special Procedures for In-Flight Contingencies in Oceanic Airspace in the event of weather or other deviations from an assigned ATC route without clearance.

“In 2020 there were 133 Level Two error reports filed against aircraft [despite] there only being 10% of the traffic from 2019,” said Scott McLellan, FAA operations aviation safety inspector with AFS-400. More than half of those 133 reports were filed against aircraft equipped with controller-pilot datalink communications enabling flight crews to communicate with ATC outside radio coverage.

“Contingencies are one thing I would really like to stress, for folks to get into their [international flight operations manuals] and make sure that they get into their flows again for the oceanic crossings,” McClellan added.

The NBAA News Hour presentation was the first in a new series of Thought Leadership sessions addressing common questions and issues identified by NBAA member companies. The presentation addressed other questions regarding international operations guidelines and updating operations manuals and authorizations, as well as training procedures and best practices.