The NTSB today issued two safety recommendations relating to Part 135 operations. The recommendations contained in A-06-42 and A-06-43 arose out of the investigation into the Challenger accident in Montrose, CO on November 28, 2004 in which the aircraft crashed during its attempted take-off in snowy conditions.
A-06-42 actually contains two separate recommendations. A-06-42’s first recommendation relates to “commercial airplanes” generally and recommends that the FAA “[d]evelop visual and tactile training aids to accurately depict small amounts of upper wing surface contamination and require all commercial airplane operators to incorporate these training aids into their initial and recurrent training.” A-06-42’s second recommendation applies specifically to Part 135 operators and reiterates a previous recommendation that the FAA “[r]equire that 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 on-demand charter operators that conduct dual-pilot operations establish and implement a Federal Aviation Administration-approved crew resource management training program for their flight crews in accordance with 14 CFR Part 121, subparts N and O.”
A-06-43 recommends that the FAA change Part 135 to require that on-demand air taxi operators provide the following information to a passenger when the passenger contracts for the flight: “the name of the company with operational control of the flight, including any “doing business as” names contained in the operations specifications; the name of the aircraft owner; and the name(s) of any brokers involved in arranging the flight.” This also relates to the FAA’s Draft Ops Spec A008 that specifically addresses the operational control a Part 135 operators must exercise. Interestingly, the NTSB noted that operational control, or lack thereof, was not directly causal to the accident. However, it then stated that “a general lack of transparency between the business operations and the consumers who are buying their services, hindering consumers’ ability to identify the carrier and make choices based on safety and that “[t]his lack of transparency may become more critical as the popularity of these operations continues to rise.”
Keep in mind that these are only the NTSB’s recommendations and that the FAA is not required to follow the recommendations. Oftentimes, for a variety of reasons, the FAA does not follow or implement the NTSB’s safety recommendations. However, with respect to the operational control issue, it is no secret that the FAA is dealing with this issue, for good or for bad, depending upon your perspective.