Updated February 15, 2012
On January 11, 2012, the FAA issued a direct final rule amending 14 CFR §135.225(f) to permit part 135 operators to takeoff from, make an instrument approach to, or land at foreign and military airports with lower than standard weather minimums if the operator has been issued the C079 operations specification. This rule change is in effect as of February 27, 2012.
The airport weather minimums that eventually evolved into § 135.225 started development prior to 1957 in Civil Air Regulation part 60, Air Traffic Rules. Section 60.46, “Instrument Approach Procedures,” required the weather to be at least visual flight rules (VFR). The 1 mile and 1⁄2 mile visibility requirements that now appear in § 135.225 first appeared in the regulations in the early 1960s. As aircraft, flight crewmember and avionics capabilities evolved, it became possible to safely conduct lower than standard takeoffs, approaches and landings.
Qualified part 135 operators are allowed to conduct lower than standard IFR operations at domestic airports under § 135.225(g), 135.225(h) and 135.225(i)(3) when authorized to do so through the issuance of operations specification C079 (OpSpec C079). However, § 135.225(f) limits a part 135 operator to the standard visibility of 1 mile for takeoffs and 1⁄2 mile for approaches when conducting the same type of operations at military airports or outside the United States. There was no provision under § 135.225(f) to allow lower than standard IFR operations through operations specifications, even though differing FSDO interpretations to operators indicated otherwise.
As a step to clarify the issue, the FAA, through the Operations Specifications Working Group of which NBAA is a part, amended the C079 operations specification to indicate that it only applied to U.S. domestic airports. Naturally, many part 135 operators were compelled to apply for an exemption as a result. Rather than continue to have part 135 operators bear the cost of the exemption process, at NBAA and its Members’ urging, the FAA made this rule change as an operations specification exists that allows these operations to be conducted safely. The FAA will again amend OpSpec C079 to bring it in line with this rule change. By amending § 135.225(f) and OpSpec C079, part 135 regulations are aligned with similar provisions found in part 121 and part 91, which resolves this issue once-and-for-all in a manner acceptable to Part 135 operators.
View the Direct Final Rule as it appeared in the Federal Register (164 KB, PDF)
On February 10, NBAA submitted comments to the FAA’s Direct Final Rule in support of the change. In its comments, NBAA requested that the associated Operations Specification and guidance updates be completed as expeditiously as possible.
View NBAA’s Comments to the Direct Final Rule (104 KB, PDF)