On December 28, 2006, the FAA issued the long awaited Notice 8000.347, Operational Control: Revised Operations Specifications A008 and A002. The Notice sets forth the criteria and guidance that the FAA will be using to determine whether Part 135 operators are exercising operational control as required by the regulations. The Notice has received mixed reviews. Some operators believe that the Notice simply repeats the existing regulatory requirements for exercising operational control. Others believe the Notice presents a more restrictive view of operational control. Regardless of which view operators hold, all operators should review the Notice and confirm that their operations are in compliance with the Notice’s guidance.
Principal Operations Inspectors (“POI’s”) are supposed to distribute the Notice to their respective Part 135 operators within 10 days and operators will then have 10 days within which to respond to the Notice with any written information, views, and arguments regarding the amended OpSpecs. However, given the process the FAA used to arrive at this final version of the Notice (public meetings, comments etc.) it is questionable whether any further comment submitted by an operator will result in additional revisions except as it may relate to a very specific issue/situation faced by the individual operator.
Needless to say, this is, and has been, a “hot button” with the FAA since the Challenger accident at KTEB. The FAA has increased its review and surveillance of Part 135 operators and has aggressively pursued enforcement actions against operators it believes are not exercising the required operational control. All Part 135 operators would be wise to familiarize themselves with the Notice and to discuss the Notice with their POI’s to ensure that they understand the Notice and that their operations are consistent with its requirements.