The FAA should know that when you expand a privilege, not a right, is exceedingly difficult to reduce or remove it. The regulatory history, for example, of fractional ownership (loose interpretation of a section of Part 91), granting Parts Manufacturing Approvals (PMAs) based on a liberal interpretation of identicality and the extension of delegated authorities, is fraught with difficulty. How does the FAA withdraw previously granted authority? What happens to the enterprises that have grown under the past “interpretation”? What about entities that have begun to implement the previously authorized operation when the FAA amends its past pronouncements.
The May 22 Federal Register (77FR 30238) announcement signals a possible reduction or refinement of its Living History Flight Experience exemptions. This policy was first articulated in a series of exemptions in the 1990s and then in more explicit guidance in 2006, Exemptions for Passenger-Carrying Operations Conducted for Compensation and Hire in Other Than Standard Category Aircraft (71 FR 15087). In this last publication, the FAA noted that attempts to “expand” these strictures might cause the Administrator to reconsider this extension of a privilege.
Public hearings will be held at the FAA on June 26-28 and the FR citation includes instructions for submitting comments. Instructions are also provided for persons wishing to attend the meeting and how to register to make a statement. The same 77FR notice requests comments on six broad categories (general policy, issuance- general and limitations, weather minimums, pilot qualifications/currency and maintenance/ inspections) and 35 specific questions. The details of these inquiries demonstrate the quandary in which the FAA finds itself. The list includes a number of “lines” which the agency is considering to circumscribe LHFE operations and thus to get the proverbial “genie” back in the bottle. The FAA technical and legal staff is aware of previous efforts to retract “privileges” mentioned in the first paragraph.
If you are engaged in LHFE operations, it is very important that you submit, written comments to the docket. Even better register to attend and the public meeting and make a public statement. Also make an appointment at the public meeting with your Congressional Representative and Senator. They can be very supportive in matters that impact their constituency.