No one ever claimed that the rulemaking process moves too quickly. The most recent changes to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 61, 91, and 141 (Pilot, Flight Instructor, and Pilot Certification) took effect on October 20, 2009, but they were years in the making. As some of my colleagues can attest, the last few months of the process were especially painful. Although many people might sometimes express the wish for a “more efficient” (read: quicker) rulemaking process, we all benefit from the fact that it provides – indeed, requires – ample time for public review and comment. If you think that comments don’t count, all you need to do is scan through the new rule, which is available online at http://edocket. access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-19353.pdf. Most of the rule’s 73 pages contain a summarization of the comments submitted in response to the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and descriptions of how the FAA addressed them. In cases where the FAA disagreed, the agency has an obligation to explain why.
What Might Change. The flight training community has long argued that the FAA’s definition of “complex” airplane is outdated. Consequently, the NPRM includes a proposal to revise the definition (now in 14 CFR section 61.31(e)) to include airplanes equipped with a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) and move it to 14 CFR section 61.1(b)(3). Another interesting proposal is to replace the 10 hours of complex airplane experience now required for a commercial pilot certificate with a single or multi-engine category rating (14 CFR section 61.129(a)(3)(ii)) with 10 hours of advanced instrument training. The advanced instrument training must include instrument approaches consisting of both precision and non-precision approaches; holding at navigational radio stations, intersections, waypoints; and cross-country flying that involves performing takeoff, area departure, en route, area arrival, approach, and missed approach phases of flight. The NPRM notes that in today’s environment, the FAA considers the advanced instrument training to be more beneficial.
What Do You Think? The rulemaking docket for these and the many other NPRM proposals will be open for public comment until November 30, 2009. To read the document in its entirety – or just check the summary table of proposed changes – go to http:// edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-20957.pdf. The document also includes instructions on how to make your voice heard. Don’t miss out. (FAA Aviation News NovDec 2009)