Sept. 10, 2020
NBAA recently expressed its support of petitions requesting an interim 365-day exemption from 14 CFR 135.339(a)(2) and 14 CFR 135.340(a)(2). The requested relief would extend the deadline for flight instructors and check airman to undergo an observation check by an FAA inspector or aircrew designated examiner from 24 to 36 months, subject to certain risk mitigations.
The requests come as some Part 135 check airmen and instructors are due for an observation but, due to COVID-related restrictions, no FAA inspector is available to conduct those observations.
This means operators have no qualified instructors to continue providing required training or qualified check airmen to conduct checking tasks, which results in pilots exceeding required training intervals leaving them unable to fly It also forces operators to rely on the FAA to complete various airman checking tasks. With the FAA unwilling or unable to conduct on-site tasks in many parts of the country, operators have few options remaining and risk grounding pilots and aircraft.
In its support for these two petitions, NBAA said granting the requests is in the public interest, as impacted Part 135 operators provide vital services related to pandemic response, including transporting medical supplies and personnel, as well as business travelers supporting overall recovery efforts. These companies are often small businesses that improve efficiency by moving employees or products around the country, supporting rural communities and economic growth
“These two temporary exemptions would give operators the flexibility they need to keep flying safely and assisting with pandemic relief and economic recovery during these difficult times,” said Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA’s director of flight operations and regulations. “With no consistent, agency-wide policy regarding on-site or in-cockpit observations and no clear end in sight to the COVID crisis as a whole, a one-year extension of existing authorizations provides operators a reasonable option to continue training and checking safely.”
Exemptions, including one to extend a pilot’s grace month for certain checking events, helped delay the urgency of the problem, but as the pandemic continues to impact the nation, operators with in-house or contract instructors and check airmen and operators relying on FAA inspectors to conduct certain checking events are feeling the pressure.
NBAA recently reported challenges small operators, which often are forced to rely on FAA inspectors to conduct certain checking tasks, currently have obtaining those checks due to COVID-related restrictions.