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New FAA NPRM May Affect Jet Warbirds

Rick Siegfried, President of EAA Warbirds of America, EAA 12484, Warbird 13339

On August 31, 2009 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for changes to 14 CFR Parts 61, 91, and 141.  These changes would affect pilot, flight instructor, and pilot school certification rules.  The proposals include requiring pilot-in-command (PIC) proficiency checks for pilots who act as PIC of single piloted, turbojet-powered airplanes.  This set of rules would govern warbird jet aircraft certificated in the experimental exhibition category as well.

The NPRM does not take into account several issues, such as a current shortage of qualified experimental aircraft examiners who could give the required checkride.

The rule does not take in to account that experimental exhibition jets (EEJ) already have more stringent requirements for the pilot in command and limitations defined by the aircraft’s operating limitations.  We feel these requirements offer an equivalent level of safety compared to the proposal.
Many of the EEJ aircraft are single-seat aircraft, and the NPRM does not address a method of check ride compliance in these aircraft.

The FAA is required to complete cost analysis on any proposed regulations. The cost analysis for this NPRM was only considered for the “very light jet” or VLJ type of aircraft, whose operational costs are wholly unrelated to the high cost of operations in EEJ aircraft.

Certainly the EEJ community wants to operate their aircraft in a safe, responsible manner. These proposed rules will make it difficult to comply with the proficiency requirements of the proposed FAR 61.58. This will result in the disappearance of warbird jet aircraft at air shows, conventions, and events around the nation. The warbird category of EEJ aircraft already operates with increased pilot requirements, operating limitations, and maintenance requirements. Additional regulatory requirements will not enhance the safety of the operations of EEJ aircraft.

Your EAA Warbirds of America Government Affairs Committee and staff from the EAA Government Programs Department have worked diligently, meeting November 12th via teleconference, to outline EAA’s strategy to oppose the applicability of 61.58 checks for non-type certificated, experimental exhibition turbojet aircraft.  They will continue to work hard on your behalf.

All of us, whether we operate a warbird jet aircraft or just enjoy the opportunity to see these aircraft at events, need to take the opportunity to let the regulators know what we think of this NPRM.  The end of the comment period for this NPRM is November 30, 2009. It is of the utmost importance that you make your feelings on this issue known.  EAA, it’s Warbirds of America Division, and other industry partners will be submitting comments on behalf of our members before the deadline.

Please read EAA’s Position and Comments. We encourage individuals to make their own comments at:   http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480a19105

To view the complete FAA NPRM, visit:  http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-20957.htm

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