FAA To Change Part 380 Ops, Exploring Special Category

FAA To Change Part 380 Ops, Exploring Special Category

By KERRY LYNCH • Editor, AIN monthly magazine

June 17, 2024

The FAA is moving forward on a rulemaking to alter the definitions of “scheduled,” “on demand,” and “supplemental” as it seeks to tighten the requirements for operators flying under the Department of Transportation’s Part 380 public charter economic authority, the agency announced today. In addition, the FAA plans to form a Safety Risk Management Panel (SRMP) to discuss the potential for a new operating authority for scheduled Part 135 operations in 10- to 30-seat aircraft.

Following up on a notice issued in August about the potential changes, the agency today said it plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking expeditiously and the rulemaking and panel are designed to address the rapid expansion and increased complexity of public charter flights in recent years.

“Part of the safety mission of the FAA is identifying risk early on, and that’s exactly what we’re doing on public charters as usage expands,” said FAA Administrator Michael Witaker. “If a company is effectively operating as a scheduled airline, the FAA needs to determine whether those operations should follow the same stringent rules as scheduled airlines.”

Noting its original request for comments on a potential for a rulemaking drew some 60,000 responses, the agency said the NPRM would solicit further input on an effective date that would enable industry to adapt to any change.

As for the SRMP, the agency further said: “Because of our dedication to expanding air service to small and rural communities, we will explore opportunities to align aircraft size and certification standards with operational needs for small community and rural air service.” The SRMP will be tasked with digging into to data to explore risks.

“We want to look at how future innovation might cause us to think differently. Safe air travel options should be available to everyone, not limited to only those living near a major airport,” Whitaker added. “We want to put a safety lens over the options of future innovation, as we work to further connect small and rural communities to open up more options for everyone at the same high level of safety.”

In addition, the FAA is coordinating with the Transportation Security Administration to review security requirements for passenger screening involving public charter flights, as well as other program alterations under the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP). The TSA has provided a comment period ending this month on those changes.

When first announcing the change last year, the FAA said a rulemaking could push some Part 135 operators into 121.

The change comes at the behest of certain airlines and pilots unions, which argue that Part 380 companies are effectively Part 121 operators flying under Part 135 and are allowed to bypass certain safety and security requriements. Business aviation groups have pushed back, saying the FAA is jumping into a competitive issues rather than a safety issues, and that the data does not support changes. Those groups warn such changes could drive operators out of business, particularly those that provide access to rural communities.

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