An Inventory of current FAA aircraft jurisdictionis more expected by Congress??

faa aircraft jurisdiction
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An A to Z about the types of aircraft under the FAA’s jurisdiction

Two recent tragic accidents have raised the media’s and thus the public’s attention to the safety of hot air balloons and parachuting/sky-diving. The NTSB warning of the FAA to increase its scrutiny of these hot air commercial operations was the subject of many headlines, even though the Board’s own records showed only 37 fatalities in these primarily sightseeing vehicles in the last 16 years.

The FAA’s goal for all aviation is ZERO accidents; however, it must prioritize the use of its resources as to preventative actions. Much of the safety agency’s attention is focused on airlines (domestic/international commercial [including charters]), domestic regional airlines and general aviation. Their actions include establishing and improving standards, surveillance (including the new SMS/SASO approaches), ramp checks, training and distributing the best practices as to operations, maintenance and piloting skills/competence. Congress, in all likelihood, would concur with this allocation rules.

Congress, when it returns from its August recess, will likely speak authoritatively about the FAA’s need to increase its vigilance as to ballooning and parachuting. Without regard to whether the reductions were justified, it is a fact that the same group of wise persons who occupy the Hill has reduced the FAA’s personnel authorizations and appropriations for years.

A bit of A to Z education about the types of aircraft under the FAA’s jurisdiction may be appropriate:

→  The relevant regulations and other FAA materials are hyperlinked to the title of each aircraft type. 
A. Airship—there are rules about the certification and operation of this class of aircraft—14 CFR Parts 21, 43 and 91 plus a list of 6 Advisory Circulars, plus a bunch of other materials.faa aircraft jurisdiction

Plus the future use of advanced designs like this will likely dramatically increase

faa aircraft jurisdiction

A. Amateur-Built Aircraft—a surprisingly active segment of GA; the EAA section of these aircraft is large; the innovations which the Rutan’s have brought to planes and space vehicles were incubated here.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

A. Autocar—they are coming and they pose challenges

faa aircraft jurisdiction

B. Manned Free Balloons—this segment is the source of one of the recent tragedies and is controlled under a variety of regulations: 14 CFR Parts 31, 43 and 91.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

C. Drones a tremendously transformational form of aviation likely to impact the FAA; the new Part 107 has rules about their “certification” and operations.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

E. Experimental Research and development, showing compliance with regulations, crew training, exhibition, Air racing and market surveys are limited uses allowed under these         rules (amateur/home built is related).

faa aircraft jurisdiction

G. Glider—a form of aviation with little emphasis even though a former FAA Administrator died in a “sailplane” accident.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

H. Helicopter/Rotorcraft —it has different certification regulations, training, operational rules and specific routes.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

L. LSA—a category created by the FAA to encourage flying in inexpensive aircraft.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

P. Parachutes – another point of recent attention and the FARs prescribe the operations of them plus regulates who/how they are packed.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

S. Seaplane, Skiplane, and Float/Ski Equipped Helicopter – separate handbook for operations.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

U. Ultralights—another segment of aviation which encourages recreation in flight with few limitations.

faa aircraft jurisdiction

→  This list is of the aircraft subject to FAA regulations. Additionally it is responsible for maintenance facilities (US and foreign), training organizations, airframe manufacturing (commercial and GA), powerplant manufacturing, helicopter manufacturing, international relations, environmental standards, PLUS operating and maintaining the NAS!

These 12 segments cover, literally, a lot of ground (and water); most of these vehicles can depart from places other than airports. Consequently, the FAA’s surveillance becomes a more difficult process to schedule. If Congress decides, upon its return to DC, that the level of scrutiny expected of the agency should be increased, it should also ponder whether additional staff is needed and whether the Treasury can pay for these added inspectors.

The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, a/k/a the Gore Commission in 1984, on a micro FAA basis and the Grace Commission also in 1984, on a government wide review, both examined the question of staffing of federal employees. Neither has had much impact. Congress might want to reread[i] them before they legislate added FAA priorities without increased resources.

 

[i] surely 32 years ago some members scrutinized these documents?


ARTICLE: FAA had been warned of risk of high-fatality balloon crashes

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11 Comments on "An Inventory of current FAA aircraft jurisdictionis more expected by Congress??"

  1. Good article. One item appears to be missing from your list. While you mention FAA responsibilities regarding airlines, transport category aircraft seems to be missing from your list. Adding this with a link would be helpful for unfamiliar readers.

    • Thank you, Jeff! Much of the safety agency’s attention is focused on airlines (domestic/international commercial [including charters]), domestic regional airlines and general aviation. Their actions include establishing and improving standards, surveillance (including the new SMS/SASO approaches), ramp checks, training and distributing the best practices as to operations, maintenance and piloting skills/competence. Congress, in all likelihood, would concur with this allocation rules.

      While we didn’t specifically mention the TC of transport category of aircraft, it is included by reference. The real point in responding to the balloon and parachute accidents was to inventory all of the one off planes.

  2. As a hot air balloon and fixed wing pilot with over 3,900 hours, I have to point out that your reference to balloons being overseen by CFR 14 Part 101 is incorrect. Hot Air Balloons are covered under Part 91 just like any other aircraft and the pilots are covered under Part 61 just like any other pilot. The only difference for balloons, as well as some other aircraft types are the exemption form having a medical certificate.

  3. Sorry Mr. Del Balzo, but on at least one aspect you are incorrect.

    You say that balloons are primarily regulated by airspace rules of 14 CFR part 101.

    Part 101 only applies to UNMANNED free balloons, and “moored balloons.” Those rules date back originally to the 1920’s and 1930’s, when a “moored balloon” was often an amusement ride at the county fair, and really only existed to ensure aircraft involved in commerce were not tangled up with ropes from a tied down World War I surplus observation balloon.

    14 CFR part 31 regulates the airworthiness standards of manned free balloons. It is mostly 1963 vintage, but has had a few small updates over the years. However, part 31 was not really intended to cover the large passenger-ride balloons today that can carry up to as many as 32 passengers. Part 121 and 135 did not apply to balloons, because when sport ballooning expanded in the 1970’s, they were mostly 2 or 3 passenger models. Nobody thought at the time to make a 12 passenger, 16 passenger, 24 passenger, or 32 passenger balloon. There are no requirements today for dual pilots, or for flight attendants for passenger safety, and there have already been several accidents around the world where poor operating practices and lack of regulatory oversight have lead to multi-person fatal crashes. There is enough activity now to warrant balloons to be given a higher priority of resources and at least begin some form of regulatory oversight of operations.

    Today there are roughly 500 large ballons capable of carrying six or more passengers. and the only regulations are general part 91 flight rules. No balloon company is required to meet part 119, part 135, or part 121.

    It would not take a lot of resources to begin monitioring the activities of those 500 balloons, issue LOA’s, so that at least the local FSDO’s knew who they were, and where they were. There is a whole indsutry now in that segment that could benefit from safety training, SMS, and the whole aviatioin safety attitude that all other segments of aviation practice, and that ballooning needs to catch up with.

    What applies today:
    CFR’s 21, 31, 43, 45, 61, 91.

    What doesn’t apply, but may have valuable lessons for the ballooning community to learn from:
    119, 121, 135.

  4. Your citation of 14 CFR Part 101 for balloons is incorrect. Part 101 covers moored balloons only – manner balloons are covered under Part 91, the same as any other manned aircraft.
    Please correct this discrepancy. thanks.

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