According to the NBAA, the FAA is in the process of substantially changing its policies regarding business aircraft configured for 6,000 lbs. payload capacity and/or 20 or more passenger seats that are technically governed by FAR Part 125. In the past, most businesses operating “Part 125-size” aircraft operated under letters of deviation authority (“LODAs”) issued under FAR 125.3 to avoid the burden and expense of obtaining the operating certification and operations specifications required by Part 125 for aircraft of that size. However, this appears to be changing.
It appears that the FAA will be prohibiting the issuance of LODAs that allow deviation from all provisions of Part 125 (“full” or “blanket” deviation authority) in lieu of granting only “partial” deviation authority. The FAA claims that FAR 125.3 requires this policy because it states that deviation authority may be granted only from “specified sections” of Part 125. Additionally, the FAA appears to be taking the position that partial deviation authority does not allow businesses to conduct the “non-commercial” operations permitted by FAR 91.501.
According to the NBAA, the FAA’s specific position is as follows: “(1) section 91.501(a) provides in part that it does not apply to aircraft when they are required to be operated under Part 125; (2) section 91.501(b) provides that section 91.501 applies rather than other specified parts of the FARs, for the purposes of the types of flights described in that subsection, but does not include Part 125 among the parts superseded by section 91.501; (3) only a full deviation authority could allow a business operating a large aircraft to perform the kinds of flights authorized by section 91.501.” But since full deviations are no longer allowed, it appears that only non-commercial flights generally allowed under Part 91 are authorized.
Based upon this position, most flights under section 91.501(b)(5) (those involving carriage of officials, employees, and guests of a company incidental to the company’s business for charges designed to cover the cost of owning and operating the airplane, including timesharing, interchange, and joint ownership arrangements) will not be permitted.
If you operate a Part 125-size aircraft, you should contact NBAA and plan on attending a meeting it has scheduled on the afternoon of April 20, 2006 with FAA Flight Standards and FAA attorneys to discuss this matter in greater detail.