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OMB Completes Review Of Air Tour Final Rule

Publication Expected As Early As December

November 22, 2006 — The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of the FAA's long-awaited final rule on Air Tour Safety and therefore the FAA will likely publish the final rule in the Federal Register sometime in the upcoming weeks. Aviation enthusiasts will recall FAA's Air Tour Safety NPRM, published in October 2003, which was universally opposed by the aviation community during a series of public hearings held during early 2004.

In that original NPRM, FAA proposed sweeping changes to commercial and noncommercial passenger-carrying operations that EAA contended are not justified by historic safety data and would not enhance safety. EAA also contended that the FAA failed to adequately evaluate and address the dramatic negative cost-benefit impact these proposals would have on the general aviation industry.

Several public hearings, including the FAA's first online meeting held February 23, 2004, demonstrated virtual unanimous opposition to the proposals from the aviation community. In EAA's official comments, submitted on March 11, 2004, it contended that FAA's proposed regulations were "a blanket measure that did not distinguish between various operations or aircraft." For example, the proposal treated large commercial air tour operators the same as private, one-aircraft operations, such as a person who operates a two-place, open-cockpit aircraft for local sightseeing flights.

"As written, FAA went much farther than the original Congressional mandate requested," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president for industry and regulatory affairs. "It would destroy many areas of general aviation that have been created strictly for historic or demonstration purposes."

EAA and other aviation organizations offered many simple, common sense recommendations that would meet the Congressional mandate, enhance safety and preserve the ability for many small businesses to continue to operate.

FAA took the comments received from the community and rewrote the rule. EAA has not received any indication as to what the revised rule may contain.

"We usually get some sort of an indication as to what a final rule will look like, but not this time," Lawrence said. We will let EAA members know the content and implications of the new rule when it's published in the Federal Register."

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