COVID-19 Impact on Report on Significant Rulemakings?

NPRM summary
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Congressionally Mandated  Report on Significant Rulemakings

Any Impact from COVID-19?

It Depends

Only in Washington are the regulators required to keep a separate account of progress in writing of rules. It is not enough for the civil servants to focus on their assignment; Congress needs a “scoreboard” of the NPRMs issued when all of these actions are published in the Federal Register. Consequently, a number of employees are devoted to tracking all of the DOT administrations’ progress.

The DOT issues periodically a summary and the status for all significant rulemakings that the FAA and other modes currently have pending or has issued recently.  The last publicly available Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings (RSR) was issued in February with the usual March, April and June updates being held up by the Pandemic? [According to a notice the Significant Rulemaking page is unavailable for reconstruction.]

RSR codes




  • CO2 rules issued by EPA
  • No movement on Airport SMS
  • Professional Pilot Development and Database move- Continental 3407 Families’ clout?
  • Bunch of UAS changes slow
  • SST Noise Certification standards move
  • Drug & Alcohol Testing for Foreign Part 145s on 12/30?
  • Helicopter Door and Training coming?
  • Part 25 streamline and system safety assessment working their way through the system
  • Flight Attendant Flight & Duty time coming
  • Pilot Biometric Certificates going nowhere
  • Space Debris, Space Launch
  • Commercial Balloon pilots Medical Standards floating

Here is the list of the top 31 FAA priorities:

RSR list

Number one on the priorities is Airport Safety Management System, extension of the exceptionally successful safety discipline to Part 139 certificate holders. The project was initiated in 2008, was the subject of a 2010-2011 NPRM and then a SNRPM over two months of 2016. Optimistically, the DOT keeper of the RSR projects that the next iteration scheduled for 2018 will be issued by 12/30/2020.

Regulation Of Flight Operations Conducted By Alaska Guide Pilots, another delayed promulgation. Another statutory mandate which began consideration in 2010. Its delay is ascribed to “other higher priorities.”

Pilot Professional Development, #3 on the list, was issued as a final rule, on February 25, 2020. The project started in 2010 and followed with a proposed rule in 2015, which was close to the statutory deadline.

#4 System Safety Assessment qualifies for the RSR “black” status, no schedule for this 2012 project. The import of this rulemaking is to synchronize all of the Part 25 standards with new requirements which have accreted over time.

There is no more politically charged and internationally sensitive RSR project than Drug and Alcohol Testing of Certain Maintenance Provider Employees Located Outside of the United States, #5. This began in 2012 pushed by unions claiming that foreign repair stations are bastions of drug addicted personnel. Since these tests are to be administered on sovereign soil, the countries where the Part 145 facilities are located will block them based on domestic privacy laws. RSR picks the next to last day of 2020 for the NPRM promulgation.

#s 6 and 7 both involve flight, duty and rest times: the first for to Ferry Flights (issued in May) and #7 would have the F&DR rules extend from Part 135 to Part 91 (expected to be issued at the end of this month).

Pilot Records Database (HR 5900) #8 is a mandate from the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Act of 2010 inspired by the Continental 3407 tragedy. Its track record began with a 2016 NPRM extended to 2018, but as predicted by the RSR another NPRM was issued on March 30, 2020 A two year gestation period qualifies as quick in the context of RSR.

Pilot Biometric Certificates is the ninth on the list and RSR lists in in category green, qualifies for “expected to meet the “originally scheduled date. The original statute NPRM issuance was 2012 and there is no schedule for any APA step?

#11 involves Helicopter Training, the 2014 assignment has no dates. #12 Orbital Debris Mitigation Methods for Launch Vehicle Upper Stages (Orbital Debris), a 2013 project shows a 2020 NPRM date. #13,14,15,18, 20, 21,22 and 30 concern UAS rules and all but #14 show no action. #16 is to establish space launch reentry standards, though categorized as “black”, the RSR record shows it with a 2019 NPRM date.

Listed as 19, Noise Certification of Supersonic Airplanes was issued March 30, 2020. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 mandated that not later than March 31, 2020, the FAA shall issue of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise 14 CFR part 36. THE FAA BEAT THE DEADLINE BY A DAY!!!

Civil Aircraft Operations Conducted with Use of Supplemental Restraints, Including with Doors Opened or Removed is RSR’s #23. Opened in 2018 an NPRM is expected by this September.

Next is Flight Attendant Duty Period Limitations and Rest Requirements #24, Congressionally mandated in February 2019 the NPRM was dated September,2019. Comments are closed and the final rule has not yet been issued.

Though the product of years of ARAC consideration, #25 Transport Airplane Certification Streamlining was initiated in 2019, but an NPRM is not expected until June 2021.

Prohibition of flights over Tripoli (26), Venezuela (27) and Tehran IFR (28) complete the RSR list with expectation of Federal Register appearances this year.

#29 is Safety Oversight and Medical Certification Standards for Commercial Balloon Operators is another expected 2020 release.

Globally significant is #31 Airplane CO2 Emissions Certification Standard which RSR shows as an April 2020 action. It appears that EPA may have taken the first step by proposing its first-ever CO2 standard for planes.

subjects of RSR

















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