Oct. 1, 2019

In a recent meeting hosted by NBAA at Teterboro Airport, FAA inspectors shared with business aircraft operators their first-hand perspectives on submitting successful letter of authorization (LOA) requests. Thorough research and preparation along with clear communication with the operator’s assigned inspectors are key factors in an efficient approval processes.

“It was very helpful for all in attendance to learn more about inspectors’ expectations and tips on how to improve the LOA request process,” said Brittany Davies, NBAA’s northeast regional representative. “For example, inspectors suggested operators make an educated ‘first touch point’ before submitting their request. That is, research the guidance related to the LOA and contact the appropriate inspector to discuss your upcoming request before sending in a formal letter and supporting documentation.”

Being thoroughly prepared and understanding the subject matter when you reach out to the inspector will result in a better reception. Tips for LOA success include:

  • Include a cover letter – Write a short, succinct cover letter with a direct statement of your request and list of accompanying documentation.
  • Prepare your documentation – Be sure supporting materials are carefully developed and reviewed to ensure more timely processing.
  • Submit twice – Inspectors also recommended submitting paper copies of your request letter and any supporting documentation, then following up with digital copies by email.

While consultants and other vendors can help operators develop international operations manuals and other documents, it’s still incumbent on the operator to have working knowledge with their documentation, so be sure to review any materials produced by a third party before submitting to the FAA.

Operators were also encouraged to stay engaged in the process, communicating with their FAA inspectors regularly about pending LOA requests.

“Inspectors emphasized that adequate planning and preparation along with quality reviews of supporting materials can significantly reduce delays,” said Davies. “Even a quick quality review by the operator before submitting documents to the FAA can save days or weeks in the approval process. Establishing inspector confidence in your operation is as simple as being prepared.”

Inspectors also updated operators on the Operations Approval Portal System (OAPS), which is currently available in beta mode for Part 121 operators but should be available to other operators in the coming months. OAPS allows operators to submit requests electronically, then bundles and tracks applications so both industry and the FAA have transparency to the process. OAPS is expected to decrease the collaboration timeline on LOAs and other approvals.

Finally, operators were advised the recent Flight Standards Office realignment means inspectors are not bound by geographic location. In some cases, a field office with limited resources might be able to seek assistance from other offices, allowing the LOA request process to progress in a more timely manner.