According to recently issued Notice 8000.343, Part 135 operators seeking to add turbine aircraft to their certificates or to add any aircraft (regardless of type of powerplant) for use in air ambulance service will now need the approval of the FAA’s Air Transportation Division (AFS-200) in Washington, D.C. Turbine-powered airplanes include turbopropeller, turbojet, and turbofan airplanes. The discussion in the Notice states that “[m]any air transportation operators may have franchised, leased, or otherwise rented their authority to conduct operations to noncertificated entities. Companies engaging in these practices compromise their ability to maintain the operational control required by regulations.” Thus, it appears that the Notice is continuing fallout from the FAA’s increased scrutiny over operators’ exercise of “operational control” over their flights.
Under the Notice, before a principal inspector (“PI”) may add “any affected airplanes to the OpSpecs of any operator, or applicant seeking authorization to conduct turbine powered airplane or airplane (regardless of type of powerplant) air ambulance operations”, the PI must notify AFS-200 with the air operator or applicant’s name (as applicable) and the airplane registration number and airplane serial number and then the PI must receive AFS-200’s concurrence before he or she may add the airplane to the OpSpecs. However, “[n]ewly manufactured airplanes delivered directly to the certificate holder are exempted from the notification requirements of this notice and may be added immediately to the certificate holder’s operations specification (OpSpec) without approval from AFS-200.” Prior to the Notice, approval of the addition of an aircraft to an air carrier’s certificate came from either the local FSDO or, if needed, from the regional level.
This Notice may be good news for some operators and bad news for others. If the operator’s PI has been hesitant or slow to add aircraft to the operator’s certificate in the past, it is possible that the process specified in the Notice may speed up the approval. However, for operators with PIs who are cooperative and efficient, having to go through the extra step of obtaining AFS-200 concurrence may actually increase the time needed to add an aircraft to the air carrier’s certificate. After all, additional bureaucracy rarely seems to add efficiency or expedite a process.
The Notice was effective December 18, 2006 and is being distributed to the division level in the Flight Standards Service in Washington headquarters, including the Regulatory Standards Division at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center; to the branch level in the regional Flight Standards divisions; and to all Flight Standards District Offices. It will ultimately be incorporated into the Flight Standards Information Management System before its December 18, 2007 cancellation date. If you have questions regarding the Notice you should contact the Air Transportation Division, AFS-200, at (202) 267-8166.