AOPA petitions to restore the definition of "high performance airplane" and change the rules governing the flight instructor certificate

March 13, 2000

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Chief Counsel (AGC-10)
Attn: Rules Docket
800 Independence Ave., S. W.
Washington, D. C. 20591

RE: Docket Nos. 29538 & 29775

To Whom It Concerns:

In response to the attached letters dated 7/26/99 (Docket No. 29538) and 2/17/00 (Docket No. 29775), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), representing over 358,000 members, is re-filing two petitions to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for reconsideration pursuant to �11.55 (d) (3) of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). AOPA strongly believes that our original petitions to restore the definition of "high performance airplane" and change the rules governing the Flight Instructor certificate are paramount safety concerns. AOPA equally believes that our petitions support the desired General Aviation growth needs of the FAA and industry per the FAA Aerospace Forecasts.

Concerning Docket No. 29538 , AOPA is requesting that the FAA reconsider the restoration of the definition of "High Performance Airplane" found in 14 CFR � 61.31 (f) (1). Specifically, we are re-petitioning the FAA to revise 14 CFR �61.31 (f) (1) to read: "Except as provided� a high performance airplane (an airplane with a total horsepower in excess of 200 )�". AOPA believes that our original petition to restore the definition of "high performance airplane" is a paramount safety concern. The FAA�s reasoning that AOPA�s petition was not of an "immediate safety concern" is unacceptable. AOPA�s original petition to the FAA was intended to rectify an obvious safety related issue and we felt that safety was unmistakably implied. Also of significant importance, the FAA assumes improvement of the flight school (training) infrastructure and related industry-wide programs. Eliminating otherwise available high performance airplanes is contrary to that need.

When the definition of "high performance airplane" was changed per amendments to 14 CFR �61 on April 1997, this change unconditionally excluded multi-engine aircraft that do not have individual engines greater than 200 horsepower (HP). Ironically, these "excluded" multi-engine airplanes are higher performance in nature and certainly more

complex than many of single engine airplanes that meet the newer definition of "high performance airplane". This situation raises a real safety concern since it now forces many pilots to train in obviously less complex and less high performance single engine airplanes to obtain a "high performance airplane" endorsement. Also, the current definition has created a significant reduction in the availability of "high performance

airplanes". This reduction cannot serve to help promote growth in "an important component of both the aviation industry and our national economy"

For example, pilots who would otherwise obtain more valuable flight experience in a multi-engine Piper PA-34 with 400 total HP (or a PA-44 or Beech 76 with 360 total HP) to gain required "high performance airplane" experience must now choose a lesser performance, less complex single engine airplane. This example is an obvious reason to be concerned about immediate safety since pilots who would have otherwise gained experience in a considerably higher performance multi-engine airplane will be forced to do so in considerably lesser performance airplanes. It is also a significant example of the type of previously included high performance airplanes that has now been removed from the FAA�s definition of a "high performance airplane".

In addition to our concern for safety and the continued growth of General Aviation, simple common sense dictates that the types of "excluded" multi-engine aircraft cited in the previous example should be included in the definition of "high performance aircraft." A very simple change reverting to the prior definition is all that is required to enhance safety.

Please note: Though the requisite 45 days under 14 CFR �11.55 (b) has passed regarding this petition, we are asking for relief since the letter denying AOPA�s original petition did not have the name of the signatory. We were not able discern the signature until just recently.

Also relating to a paramount safety concern, we are petitioning the FAA to reconsider AOPA�s petition under Docket No. 29775 . In particular, AOPA is requesting the FAA to amend 14 CFR �� 61.19, 61.195, 61.197, and 61.199 per our original letter of petition dated 9/14/99 .

Over the past few years, there has been a substantial reduction of qualified and experienced part-time flight instructors. Many flight instructors stop instructing and/or do not renew their certificate as soon as a charter operator or the airlines hires them. Also, many flight instructors simply do not renew their flight instructor certificate because of the valid perception that the current rules regarding flight instructor certificate renewal are cumbersome and inconvenient. The overall number of flight instructors available to instruct is dwindling by shear attrition.

In addition to the overall number, the overall experience of the flight instructor pool is dwindling. We are also seeing increasing number of well-seasoned and experienced part-time flight instructors not renewing their certificate. A major factor contributing to the non-renewal of the flight instructor certificate by part-time flight instructors is the

certificate renewal process.

AOPA maintains that the FAA must make it more favorable for experienced flight instructors to continue providing a vital service to the aviation community. This can easily be accomplished by simply making it easier for flight instructors to renew their privileges and giving flight instructors a "grace" period.

Citing our original petition letter of 9/14/99, AOPA proposes that the FAA eliminate the flight instructor certificate "expiration date" and replace it with an "expiration of privileges" after 24 calendar months. Besides making it more convenient for flight instructors, this action will eliminate thousands of hours of FAA administration work each year. In addition, AOPA proposes that the FAA incorporate a "grace" period of 3 calendar months after the flight instructor privileges have expired. Please refer to the attached original AOPA petition which fully explains our recommended changes.

We believe that these proposed changes will encourage flight instructors to stay in the "instructor pool" and keep the overall level of flight instructor experience at safe level. By making it more convenient for flight instructors to continue flight instructing, AOPA strongly believes that more flight instructors will continue to provide an indispensable service to the aviation community thus serving to enhance aviation safety as well as serve the need for additional flight instructors.

The FAA�s letter denying our original petition under Docket No. 29775 stated that it is considering the undertaking of related rule making action in the area of the rules that AOPA is recommending change. AOPA asks specifically: 1) When will the FAA�s promulgating of such related rule-making begin and, 2) Will such rule-making include all of the recommended changes in our original petition? And, if it will not, please explain why it won�t.

AOPA believes that the time is now to amend 14 CFR �� 61.19, 61.195, 61.197, and 61.199 per our original petition letter. Any further delays in encouraging much needed and experienced flight instructors to stay in the "pool" will make it increasingly more

difficult to maintain and ultimately increase the pool of flight instructor experience and availability.

The FAA must act favorably and immediately towards implementing all of the changes stated in our two petitions. To not act favorably is contrary to immediate safety concerns and contrary to the growth needs of General Aviation and the FAA based upon the recently published FAA Aerospace Forecasts.

We thank the FAA for reconsidering both of our original petitions. AOPA stands ready to assist the FAA in these in implementing these very important changes.

Respectfully,

Dennis E. Roberts
Vice President/Executive Director
Government and Technical Affairs Division
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Attachments �

Copy of the Original AOPA Petition to Change the Definition of "High Performance Airplane" Dated 4/8/1999

Copy of the Original AOPA Petition to Change 14 CFR �61.19, �61.195, �61.197, �61.199 Dated 9/14/1999

FAA Petition Denial Letters

Cc:

Mr. L. Nicholas Lacey
Director, Flight Standards
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave., S. W.
Washington, D. C. 20591