Feb. 12, 2016

A recent NBAA-hosted free webinar helped Part 135 operators better understand how to comply with regulatory crew-duty and rest-time requirements, especially under challenging operating scenarios, such as when passengers arrive late for a flight and during “tail end” repositioning flights (i.e. Part 91 flights to return to home base after a Part 135 flight or series of flights).

“You must be able to provide and prove 10 hours of rest within the 24 consecutive hours preceding a flight’s planned completion time,” said Alex Beringer, executive vice president at Fair Wind Air Charter and one of the speakers at the webinar. “There’s a mutual responsibility between the crew and the certificate holder to make sure regulations are complied with.”

Although some operators suggest “rest” and “duty” aren’t well defined in the regulations, another webinar presenter, aviation attorney David Norton, explained that a sufficient number of FAA interpretations and other materials now establish clear definitions. Norton, who works for Dallas-based Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, explained, “Rest is a period free from all restraint, including the present responsibility to work should the occasion arise.

“Rest must have three elements – it must be continuous, determined prospectively and free from all restraint,” he added. “Rest must be a block of time known in advance. It can’t be a ‘standby’ or ‘on-call’ period.”

Pop-up trips can present unique challenges to Part 135 operators who are trying to comply with crew-duty and rest-time requirements. Experts recommend determining your company’s peak business demand and structuring your rest policy around those periods of time.

What are the other keys to successful compliance? Beringer shared his company’s experience in implementing proper rest and duty policies and procedures.

“The key to our policy is to do away with as much of the grey area as we could,” said Beringer, including scenarios such as late passengers, Part 91 tail-end repositioning legs and flights that start during points of low circadian rhythm. In his experience, clearly addressing these scenarios before they occur helps his company maintain compliance.

Presenters warned that friction can occur when these requirements are unclear or seem inconsistent. While individual FAA inspector interpretations and approaches can vary, Norton emphasized that it is ultimately the operator’s responsibility to know the rules and apply them appropriately – not the FAA’s.

NBAA members that were unable to attend the webinar can access the archived video free of charge. View the webinar.