The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today voiced significant concerns about the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) recent Pilot Records Database (PRD) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), outlining numerous specific challenges with the proposal, and offering recommendations for more appropriately implementing the PRD.
NBAA’s comments, submitted to the public docket, join submissions by hundreds of individuals and organizations who have written with similar concerns over the FAA’s pilot-data proposal. Review NBAA’s full comments to the FAA.
The FAA’s proposed PRD would create substantial new pilot data recordkeeping and reporting requirements for a large portion of the business aviation community that is not currently subject to similar reporting obligations. The proposed rules would expand data-collection mandates outlined in the Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA), which was enacted in 1997 to establish requirements for air carriers to conduct pilot background checks during the hiring process.
The NPRM includes certain Part 91 operators, which appears to exceed the scope of the legislation that originally drove the proposal. It also includes concepts that could negatively impact safety that are clear, obvious examples of “regulatory creep.”
For example, the proposed rule includes requirements to submit instructor and check airman notes regarding a pilot’s training. Including these subjective notes turns training and checking into punitive events that could discourage pilots from seeking additional training and therefore negatively impact safety.
NBAA also strongly opposes the codification of “corporate flight department,” a term currently undefined in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Although the FAA’s new rule was issued March 30, the agency elected to disallow additional time for pilots and other affected parties to offer first-hand perspectives on the proposal’s most-troubling elements.
“NBAA is concerned that the safety and public interests analysis conducted in support of this proposal do not suggest a need to expand these reporting requirements to Part 91 operations,” said NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown. “Further, the arbitrary need to define a ‘corporate flight department’ and the lack of any clear safety benefits of this proposal attributable to Part 91 operations suggest that Agency should consider a less burdensome approach.”
NBAA actively engaged with the FAA on this topic over a decade ago, participating in the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) commissioned to reach industry consensus on several key topics related to the PRD. NBAA is disappointed that the FAA failed to include many of the ARC’s recommendations in this NPRM, which took the FAA nine years to draft.
Additionally, NBAA highlighted and responded to more than 20 technical questions or requests for information from the FAA, which suggests that the agency itself was uncertain of the true impact of the proposed rules.
“The NPRM lacks a robust analysis of the effects of this proposal on Part 91 operations and ignores many consensus recommendations from the 2011 PRD ARC, resulting in a significant burden on numerous small entities with no clear nexus to Part 121 air carrier hiring,” said Brown.
Among other recommendations, NBAA is urging the FAA to issue a Supplemental NPRM reflecting the hundreds of comments already received in the public docket prior to finalizing any elements of this proposal.