April 12, 2003
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) has added his voice to AOPA's, calling on the FAA to hold public meetings on proposed changes to the charity sightseeing standards. In a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, he wrote, "Because of the potential adverse impact of this NPRM (notice of proposed rulemaking) on thousands of general aviation pilots and businesses, it is incumbent upon the FAA to ensure that the proposed rule and its impact are thoroughly evaluated."
The proposal would raise the minimum number of hours required for pilots conducting charity fundraising flights from 200 to 500 and remove an exemption that allows Part 91 sightseeing flights within 25 nm of an airport. Operators conducting flights under this exception will now be subject to the operational requirements of Part 135.
Echoing concerns raised by AOPA when the NPRM was first published, Graves, a pilot and AOPA member, wrote, "The FAA's proposal to increase the minimum flight time for private pilots participating in charitable sightseeing events from 200 hours to 500 hours reduces the pool of available pilots to help in charity and fundraising flights.
"I also am concerned that the sightseeing element of the proposed rule will adversely affect the sightseeing business. Through the FAA's own admission, the proposed rule will result in hundreds of small sightseeing operations going out of business. Many of these companies are also involved in flight training, a segment of the general aviation community that continues to face economic hardships."
"Not only is Rep. Graves a pilot, he sits on both the House Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Small Business committees, so this is an issue he approaches from several angles at once," said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jon Hixson. "Having him call for public meetings can only bolster our request."
The NPRM is available on the Federal Docket Management System, docket number 4521. Comments may be submitted at the same Web site.
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