The FAA today published a Withdrawal of the supplemental oxygen final rule it previously published on November 10, 2005. The November 10, 2005 direct final rule, applicable to Part 121 operations, changed the flight-level requirement at which a flying pilot must use his or her oxygen mask when the other pilot leaves the cockpit. The final rule increased the altitude from above flight level 250 to above flight level 350.
However, after the final rule was published, the NTSB filed an adverse comment stating that the data upon which the final rule was based did not accurately represent the useful-consciousness and pilot performance in real-life decompression situations. The NTSB asked the FAA to withdraw the rule. The FAA agreed and, as a result, effective January 6, 2006 the previously published direct final rule was withdrawn.
Interestingly, this was a “direct” final rule which means that it was not preceded by a published notice of proposed rulemaking. Thus, in this situation the FAA did not receive public comment to a NPRM prior to issuing the final rule. This sure makes me wonder where the FAA obtained the data upon which it relied and whether anyone at the FAA conducted a meaningful and objective review of the data before issuing the final rule. Unfortunately, the answer to my questions and “the rest of the story” will likely remain undisclosed.
If you would like further information regarding withdrawal of the final rule, you can contact Timothy Adams, Airmen and Airspace Rules Division (ARM-100), Office of Rulemaking, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; Telephone No. (202) 267-9680.