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NBAA, AOPA at Odds With FAA

Two prominent aviation associations are upset with the Federal Aviation Administration’s newly revised policy that was designed to clarify how flight training is compensated in aircraft with special airworthiness certificates, including those in the limited and experimental categories. 

NBAA and AOPA said the policy statement also establishes an expedited electronic process for owners of experimental aircraft to obtain a required letter of deviation authority (LODA) to receive and provide compensation for flight training in their own experimental-category aircraft.

The associations are displeased with the policy and the LODA requirement.  They are calling on the FAA to further revise the policy, which became effective Monday.  Publication of the policy apparently addresses the concerns of several general aviation groups that objected to guidelines provided in a June 4 FAA letter that stated a flight instructor operating a limited, experimental or even a primary category aircraft and “carrying a paying student” is acting in opposition to federal regulation.

In the most recent policy statement, the FAA conceded that the distinction set forth in its June 4 letter was inconsistent with the definition of ‘‘operate’’ in FAR 1.1 and the plain language of FAR 91.319.

“Where a regulation and guidance conflict, the regulation controls,” the agency said. “Accordingly, owners of experimental aircraft and flight instructors who have operated experimental aircraft for the purpose of compensated flight training without obtaining an exemption, will [now] be required to obtain a LODA to remain compliant with the regulations.”

NBAA said that, despite the FAA’s attempt at clarification, this policy represents a new interpretation of the meaning of “compensation.”  Usually, commercial operations, which are not permitted under Part 91, are operations that involve transportation for compensation or hire.  The association said the FAA is viewing certain types of flight instruction as “compensated,” and therefore not permitted under Part 91.

NBAA is worried that this new policy will lead to “regulatory creep” and affect other types of flight instruction.  “This is a significant departure from the FAA’s long-held belief that flight instruction is not a commercial air transportation activity.”

The FAA is considering rulemaking to address flight instruction in these categories of aircraft without requiring an exemption.

AOPA said about the LODA requirement, “Such a rule would put new barriers in place for owners seeking instruction in their own aircraft and discourage flight instructors qualified in various experimental aircraft from providing training.”