Regulatory Brief -- FAA proposes "Plain Language" rewrite of Part 11 rulemaking regulations

Regulatory Brief

FAA proposes "Plain Language" rewrite of Part 11 rulemaking regulations

The issue:

On December 14, 1999, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) recommending an extensive rewrite of 14 C.F.R. � 11, the regulations governing the public�s participation in the FAA�s rulemaking process. The FAA issued the rulemaking proposal in response to an executive mandate to make federal communications with the public more understandable. In the NPRM, the FAA proposed to revise and clarify the existing part 11 by removing redundant and outdated regulations and by rewriting the rule using "plain language" principals.

The importance to our members:

Many AOPA members indicate that the Federal Aviation Regulations are overly complex and difficult to understand. Implementation of plain language concepts into the Federal Aviation Regulations can make the regulations more concise and easier to understand. However, many of the "plain language" provisions of the proposed rule may actually lead to wordy and confusing regulations. Most important, the proposed rule limits the public�s ability to contact officials within the FAA for further information once an NPRM has been published. Ultimately, this provision may make it difficult, or even impossible, for an individual to gain the information necessary to provide objective comments to the FAA�s rulemaking actions.

Significant provisions:

The FAA makes several sweeping changes to the language of the current part 11. The most notable of these include:

  • Elimination of the numerous subparts of the current part 11 and consolidation into one subpart.
  • Removal of the provisions of the current �11.65 that grants an individual the right to discuss or confer informally with FAA officials concerning a proposed rulemaking action. FAA cites that such "non-public" conferences are contrary to DOT ex-parte policy and, therefore, should not be included in the new part 11.
  • Rewording of the section headings into question format.

AOPA position:

AOPA supports any effort to make the Federal Aviation Regulations more concise and easier to understand. If carefully and properly implemented, the concept of plain language rulemaking can accomplish that goal. In this particular situation, the majority of the provisions of the proposed rule will lead to clearer and more concise rulemaking actions. However, without careful consideration, many of the proposed changes to part 11 could actually result in a rule that�s overly complex and difficult to understand.

AOPA is concerned with the FAA�s prohibition of "non-public" contacts during the rulemaking process. Given the FAA�s inability, administratively or financially, to support a public meeting for every request for information or clarification, AOPA implores the FAA and the DOT to reconsider its ex-parte policy and allow "non-public" contacts. Anything short of such action will be a departure from the true spirit and intent of plain language rulemaking and will severely limit the public�s access to the rulemaking process.

Status:

  • On December 14, 1999, the FAA published the NPRM recommending plain language changes to �11.
  • On January 28, 2000, AOPA issued comments to the FAA recommending several changes to the rulemaking proposal.
  • AOPA is awaiting a formal response from the FAA.

Related documents:

FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, December 14, 1999 (requires Adobe Reader)

AOPA comments to proposed Part 11 changes, January 28, 2000