NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen appealed to lawmakers to update Part 135 pilot rest and duty time regulations as part of the overarching FAA reauthorization bill. Specifically, Bolen supported the elimination of “tail-end ferries” and updated recordkeeping that would more accurately reflect rest and duty-time practices.

Lawmakers are expected to release a comprehensive aviation package in upcoming weeks that would reauthorize the FAA’s operating authority and address myriad other aviation issues. Congress faces a September 30 deadline to complete work on the bill.

In a June 1 letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and aviation subcommittee leaders, Bolen noted that “preventing and mitigating fatigue remains a universal area of concern.” He pointed to the recommendations of the Part 135 Pilot Rest and Duty Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which presented a report to the FAA two years ago that outlined suggested updates to regulations.

The ARC was unanimous on core principles, he said. This included the elimination of tail-end ferries, which Bolen noted could essentially provide for additional duty time beyond what is allowed by regulation. The ARC further supported the creation of enforceable hard limits and recordkeeping mandates addressing the scheduling of duties and prospective rest.

“Currently, an operator may assign, and a pilot may accept, a Part 91 flight at the conclusion of a Part 135 duty period that would have otherwise exceeded the allowable duty limits for Part 135 had the Part 91 flight been considered part of the Part 135 duty period,” Bolen explained. “This practice, referred to as ‘tail-end ferry flights,’ among other terms, allows an operator or pilot to claim the flight is outside the scope of the Part 135 duty period, and therefore, the rest and duty regulations for Part 135 would not apply.”

Both the FAA and NTSB have expressed concern that following a maximum duty time under Part 135 with a Part 91 flight poses a safety risk and is unacceptable. “NBAA does not believe that the cost of ending ‘tail-end ferry flights’ will be significant, as many Part 135 operators already recognize the risks posed by such operations,” Bolen added.

As for recordkeeping requirements, the ARC recommended that the FAA mandate certificate holders record rest, duty, and flight times in sufficient detail to demonstrate compliance with the regulations. “Today, operators are only required to record flight time,” Bolen said. “While monitoring flight time is an important component of preventing fatigue, it is not the only component…[and] is insufficient to ensure flight crews receive adequate, prospectively scheduled rest.”

The current regulations create an environment where operators may fail to assign adequate rest, he said.

Source: AIN Online