June 4, 2021
The June 12 deadline is nearing for operators to apply for revised FAA Operations Specifications A096, A097, A098, and A099, demonstrating compliance with revised Advisory Circular (AC) 120-27F. The updated A097 authorization provides an avenue for certificated operators to calculate weight and balance using average passenger and baggage weights, rather than weighing every passenger or bag.
The revised AC allows the use of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, or the certificate holder may request and implement a passenger survey. A survey is now the only means for determining average weights for all baggage. This includes personal items/carry-on baggage, checked baggage, plane-side loaded baggage and heavy baggage as applicable.
Cary Robins, with American Aeronautics, and a member of the Society of Aircraft Performance and Operations Engineers, has worked with NBAA since the revised AC was published to help operators implement the use of standard weights based on FAA requirements.
Robins explained that the revised AC was amended to a performance-based approach rather than a prescribed method of compliance with weight and balance requirements. Each operator is responsible for submitting a weight and balance proposal that is designed for their operations. This includes, but is not limited to, the type of aircraft operated, demographic of passengers, as well as area of operation.
To continue using standard weights, each operator may submit a proposal to use the CDC/NHANES FastStats data for adult passengers. Average weights for infants, children, and adolescence can be found in the CDC Anthropometric Reference Data guide. For baggage, actual weight or a survey is the only option. The scope of the survey requirements is inappropriate for a typical Part 135 operator with a smaller number of daily operations than typical Part 121 operators. The FAA allows for the operator to submit a request for a reduced survey count.