Yesterday the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-06-66-69 regarding the FAA’s oversight of Part 135 operators to ensure that on-demand charter operators are properly exercising their operational control. These recommendations arise out of the NTSB’s investigation into the Challenger 600 overrun at Teterboro in February of 2005 and its determination that the certificate holder’s failure to properly exercise operational control over the flight was one of the contributing factors to the accident. As a result, the NTSB recommended that the FAA take the following action:
“Disseminate to all principal inspectors of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 certificate holders and to all Part 135 certificate holders guidance that includes specific procedures, such as those contained in the draft revisions to Operations Specifications A-008, that detail appropriate methods by which a certificate holder can demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that it is maintaining adequate operational control over all on-demand charter flights conducted under the authority of its certificate. This guidance should address operations based at locations geographically distant from the certificate holder’s base, should be included in all Part 135 Certificate holders’ operations specifications, and should be required as periodic inspection items for principal inspectors. (A-06-66)
Review all charter management, lease, and other agreements between 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 certificate holders and other entities to identify those agreements that permit and/or enable a loss of operational control by the certificate holder and require revisions of any such arrangements. (A-06-67)
Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 certificate holders to ensure that seatbelts at all seat positions are visible and accessible to passengers before each flight. (A-06-68)
Require that any cabin personnel on board 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 flights who could be perceived by passengers as equivalent to a qualified flight attendant receive basic FAA-approved safety training in at least the following areas: preflight briefing and safety checks; emergency exit operation; and emergency equipment usage. This training should be documented and recorded by the Part 135 certificate holder. (A-06-69)”
The first two recommendations track with and overlap the FAA’s current efforts in issuing Ops Spec A-008 and the guidance it provided to POIs following the accident to review existing arrangements involving Part 135 certificate holders. I don’t think they tell us anything new nor do they recommend anything that wasn’t already covered by the FARs. However, they reinforce the current enforcement environment in which the FAA will be exercising increased scrutiny of Part 135 certificate holders and the business arrangements in which they engage with aircraft lessors, charter brokers and other charter operators.
For a more detailed explanation of the NTSB’s findings in the TEB accident and the operational control deficiencies it found, you should read the full Safety Recommendation.