All posts tagged 'international regulations'

Are we losing our sovereignty and freedom in all things commercial, business and general aviation?

Even though this past year in aviation legislation has been a quiet one, there has been a discernable undercurrent of change seeping into the foundation of the commercial, business and general aviation industry these past several years. The changes that have been slowly seeping in under most of our ‘news radars’, and when viewed as a composite, are so significant that we all now need to take immediate action before our worst fears become an industry reality.

The changes that I am referring to, and a lot of them are not caused by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are as follows:

Establishment of an International Aircraft Registry in March 2006. This program is mandated by the FAA, whereby a seller cannot warrant ‘Free and Clear Title’ to his or her aircraft, unless it has registered with the I.R. The treaty resulted from a diplomatic conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001. The conference was attended by 68 countries and 14 international organizations. In all, 53 countries signed the resolution proposing the treaty. It took effect when ratified by eight countries: Ethiopia, Ireland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Pakistan and the United States.

Failed attempt to introduce Aviation User Fees in June 2007. Proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, along with the then-ranking minority committee member Sen. Trent Lott, and wrapped up in Senate Bill S.1300. The airlines were all for this, because they saw an opportunity to deflect public scrutiny away from their intensely bad ways of managing their respective companies, while firing media shots at business and general aviation. This caused so much division within both houses of Congress that the FAA was put on probation starting in September 2007. Ever since then, the FAA has been on a month-to-month, and sometimes quarter-to-quarter basis for funding.

Failed attempt to introduce the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) in October 2008. This regulation would require all U.S. operators of aircraft (both Part 135 and 91) that exceed 12,500 pounds maximum take-off weight to implement security programs that would be subject to compliance audits by TSA. The proposed regulation would also require operators to verify that passengers are not on the No Fly and/or Selectee portions of the federal government's consolidated terrorist watch list.

Failed attempt to introduce an FAA Certified Repair Station (CRS) Security Plan in November 2009. Repair stations on and off airports are so different that it wouldn’t be possible to create a security plan and audit system to fit all of the stations. However, this plan required that all CRS facilities to implement security procedures and infrastructure such as access controls to the facility or aircraft, and a means to identify those who should have access to the facility. Additionally, there would have to be procedures established for challenging unauthorized people who are trying to get access to the facility, along with a security awareness training program for all employees.

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The Introduction of Plastic Airmen Certificates in April 2010. The paper to plastic conversion is in response to the Drug Enforcement Assistance Act of 1988, which directed the FAA to modify the system used to issue airmen certificates to help prevent abuses, including the use of counterfeit and stolen airman certificates, as well as the submission of unidentifiable names on aircraft registration applications.

Implementation of an Emissions Trading Scheme, with mandatory Annual Carbon Emissions Monitoring in September 2009. This European-mandated program is spearheaded by the ICAO and EASA and will lead to an Eventual Carbon Cap and Trade Program. At the close of its 37th assembly last Friday, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to what it characterized as the first global approach to reducing air transport's impact on climate change. Under the resolution, ICAO committed to achieving a 2 percent annual fuel-efficiency improvement until 2050, as well as a global framework for the development and deployment of sustainable alternative aviation fuels and a world standard covering carbon dioxide limits for aircraft engines. The resolution also calls for the creation of a global market-based measures scheme. But with the ink barely dry on the document signed by the UN body's 190 member states, opinion remains divided as to whether the development weakens or strengthens the European Union's emissions trading scheme. The EU has always said it will exempt non-European operators from its ETS if its own national governments have implemented a comparable system. However, the EU has made it clear that it will not defer ETS implementation while it waits to see if such alternatives ever materialize.

 

Re-Registration and Registration Renewal of U.S. Aircraft in October 2010. Now all aircraft registrations will expire in the next three years, possibly as early as March 31, 2011.  The FAA has issued a final rule that took effect on October 1, 2010, that requires all aircraft owners to renew their registrations by December 31, 2013 and then re-register every three years thereafter.  The purpose of the rule is to maintain an accurate aircraft registry database; a goal not achieved by the Triennial Aircraft Registration Report.  The FAA estimates that one-third of the 357,000 aircraft registrations currently on file are inaccurate.  The FAA uses the database for ownership determination and response to an overdue flight or downed aircraft report.  Law enforcement and other government agencies use the database for their own purposes.  The federal register’s summary of the rule mentions inclusion of registry information and status on a display depicting each flight operating on a flight plan in the national airspace system.

Implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) International Standards of Business Aviation Organization (ISBAO) Safety Management System (SMS) Requirement mandated for enforcement, Nov. 18, 2010. While the FAA has filed a “difference” explaining that it does not have a formal safety management system (SMS) rule for aircraft operators, despite ICAO's Nov. 18 deadline, it is in the process of SMS rulemaking. The FAA is already sponsoring voluntary SMS implementation by Part 121, 135 and 145 organizations to provide learning and experience for both industry and the FAA in SMS development, implementation and oversight. The FAA is also considering SMS regulations for Part 135 operators and Part 145 repair stations. There are reports of Part 135 operators being denied entry into various international airports and/or airspace due to lack of an approved SMS manual and/or FOQA which stands for Flight Operations Quality Assurance; a flight-data analysis program has been an ICAO requirement since 2005. Starting on Nov. 19, 2010, Bermuda was the first nation to officially require that all foreign operators of business aircraft with an MGTOW of more than 12,500 pounds have an SMS and meet other requirements under ICAO Annex 6.2.3. For U.S. operators, this includes both Part 91 and 135 operators. Compliance with the ICAO annex is monitored by random ramp inspections at the L.F. Wade International Airport. Operators discovered to be not compliant will be refused entry to Bermuda until they can demonstrate compliance. Besides the precedent-setting SMS requirement, affected operators will also need an operations manual, fatigue management program, MMEL, Type 1A flight data recorder and crew microphone-based communication system. Additionally, aircraft with an MGTOW exceeding 59,400 pounds are required to have a Type 1 FDR and a cockpit voice recorder. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, French civil aviation authorities now require foreign operators to demonstrate they have an SMS and a FOQA program before they grant traffic rights. In fact, for the past two years, France’s aviation authority (DGAC) has mandated that foreign operators flying commercially or operating an aircraft weighing more than 27 metric tons (59,500 pounds) have a flight data analysis program (FDAP). The requirement is independent of any EASA regulation, with the DGAC maintaining it is enforcing ICAO standards. The EASA’s remit does not include foreign operator monitoring yet; the agency will manage technical authorizations (possibly including question forms) at the European level beginning in 2012. States will retain authority of commercial authorizations, such as traffic rights.

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Proposition to eliminate Third-Country Aircrew and Aircraft Licensing validity, details released in October, 2010. If passed into law, the proposal would adversely affect U.S. flight schools that train foreign pilots, as well as pilots coming to the United States for training. Pilots who complete their flight training in the United States would be required to repeat the majority of their training upon their return to Europe. The FAA instrument rating would be considered useless in Europe. EASA has made no secret of the fact that it wants to get third country aircraft – and specifically the N-register – out of Europe by ensuring that there are no advantages to being on the N-register. The flight crew licensing proposal is only the first stage in EASA’s move against the N-register, with more to come in proposals on Operations in 2011.

 

Picture I.D. Requirements for Pilot Certificates. NPRM out for comment until Feb. 17, 2010. This proposal responds to section 4022 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The FAA previously required all pilots to obtain a plastic certificate (excepting temporary certificates and student pilot certificates). This proposal furthers the fulfilment of IRTPA by requiring a photo of the pilot to be on all pilot certificates. The new certificates shall remain valid for only 8 years, and then they must be replaced with a new one featuring a recent photograph. 

 

Part 25 Airworthiness Requirements Harmonization with EASA. NPRM out for comment until Feb. 17, 2010. The FAA tasked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) through its Flight Test Harmonization Working Group to review existing regulations and recommend changes that would eliminate differences between the U.S. and European performance and handling characteristics standards by harmonizing to the higher standards. This proposed rule is a result of this harmonization effort.

 

Significant escalation in the frequency of occurrences, and the penalty amounts levied in fines against U.S. Operators and Businesses by the FAA. In light of the problems that the FAA has had in receiving a consistent operating budget from Congress, President Obama’s administration is more actively looking and willing to bring about civil penalties against the aviation industry. All money collected by the federal government goes into the general fund.

 

The U.S. aviation industry has lead the rest of the world for more than a century, and effectively it is this system that has firmly established the U.S.A. as the ideal model which has caused more than 75 percent of the world’s civil aircraft fleet to be based here. Maintaining a healthy, safe and prosperous aviation industry takes government support and funding. The lion's share of the costs of running this national transportation system, are eaten up by the air-traffic and navigational infrastructure. The need for a near autonomous, free-flowing and independent on-board traffic guidance, avoidance and clearance system has been on the FAA’s books for more than a decade now. They call it NextGen, while it has also been named “Free-Flight.”

Unfortunately we, the users of this system, are not able to make our voices heard, because the past two governments have chosen to strangle the FAA and force it to step down as the leader of aviation safety oversight, all because of the lack of a proper and appropriate funding budget.

In fact, the FAA’s FY 2010 portfolio of goals document states that: “There is no budget associated with this performance target, as the global support that the ATO provides in support of NextGen is assumed by the specific program offices or paid for by international civil aviation authorities or air navigation service providers through the execution of reimbursable bilateral technical assistance agreements. However, political will, cultures, foreign policy, and other government budgets can be significant factors in the success of the NextGen performance target.”

I worry that the U.S. aviation industry is being forced to the back of the ‘special bus’, thus allowing organizations like the ICAO and EASA to run amok with biased, politically based legislation that is calculated to seize the balance of power in aviation oversight – and ultimately cause the global aviation industry to contract due to the financial burdens that these socialist based systems shall levy against us all. Couple this trend with the willingness that governments have in using the spectre of terrorism as a means to further cheapen and ultimately enslave free societies; we are all in for a very dark future indeed.

 

The International Civil Airworthiness Organization (ICAO) and its subsidiary, the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), are both based in Montreal. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is based in Cologne. EASA has taken over from the Hoofddorp-based Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA.) The International Aircraft Registry (IAR) is based in Dublin, while the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) is still based in Washington, D.C. This all leaves me to wonder when the Federal Aviation Administration shall be disbanded and all governance moved to Cologne. It is time to start writing to our representatives in Washington, I think. What say you on this matter of sovereignty?

Why you should always park your Aircraft when Volcanic Ash is in your Path

On April 14th, 2010, both the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and its National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Luftfartstilsynet (Norway’s CAA) made what appears to many as having been a brave but rash decision to close all of its nations airspace (initially Norway closed only its most northern airspace) to all traffic as a result of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano: Eyjafjallokul located in the South-western portion of this small Island Nation.

There appears to be a rising tide of disgruntlement forming amongst the European air-travelling public as well as the employees of the many companies that service this segment, against the sweeping decisions made by both of the CAAs, NATS, Eurocontrol and EASA that a “no-fly” ban to be placed over much of Europe. This ban lasted more than seven days, thus throwing the travel plans of millions into utter chaos, and according to Giovanni Bisignani, the director general and chief executive of IATA “For an industry (Airlines) that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis (the ban) was devastating..."

 

I personally must contest this negative discourse that is gathering momentum over the decision that was made, because when the facts of the very real dangers that exist within the plume of a volcanic ash cloud are systematically reviewed, it becomes obvious that the right decision was made.

In appendix 2 of the FAAs Airmen Information Manual, you will find a specific form titled: Volcanic Activity Report (VAR) which must be completed and sent to the Global Volcanism Program headquarters at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The AIM further states in section:

7-1-27. PIREPs Relating to Volcanic Ash Activity

a. Volcanic eruptions which send ash into the upper atmosphere occur somewhere around the world several times each year. Flying into a volcanic ash cloud can be extremely dangerous. At least two B747s have lost all power in all four engines after such an encounter. Regardless of the type aircraft, some damage is almost certain to ensue after an encounter with a volcanic ash cloud.

b. While some volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored, many in remote areas are not. These unmonitored volcanoes may erupt without prior warning to the aviation community. A pilot observing a volcanic eruption who has not had previous notification of it may be the only witness to the eruption. Pilots are strongly encouraged to transmit a PIREP regarding volcanic eruptions and any observed volcanic ash clouds.

c. Pilots should submit PIREPs regarding volcanic activity using the Volcanic Activity Reporting (VAR) form as illustrated in Appendix 2. If a VAR form is not immediately available, relay enough information to identify the position and type of volcanic activity.

d. Pilots should verbally transmit the data required in items 1 through 8 of the VAR as soon as possible. The data required in items 9 through 16 of the VAR should be relayed after landing if possible.

The two Boeing 747 incidents cited in the AIM are the four-engine flame-outs that occurred to, first on the night of June 24th, 1982 where British Airways flight number 9 dropped from FL370 down to about 10,000 feet M.S.L. after flying through the volcanic plume from Mount Galunggung in West Java, Indonesia; second on December 15th, 1989 where KLM flight number 867, on its way from FL250 to FL390 fell to an altitude below 11,000 feet after flying through the black plume that was being spewed from the erupting Mount Redoubt near Anchorage, Alaska, here in the U.S.A. Fortunately in both cases, some, if not all of the effected engines were restarted, and both aircraft were able to make emergency landings without injury, at a suitable diversionary airport.

Even though there was no loss of life involved in both of these incidents, considerable damage occurred to both aircraft as a result of their unfortunate forays into volcanic ash clouds. 

Most recently in Europe ash damage has been found in the engines of a World Airways MD-11, a Thomas Cook B757, several of the RAF Typhoon Euro-fighters and a Finnish F-18 Hornet. As engine inspections are stepped-up because normal air operations are returning to the skies of Europe, I would be very surprised if more reported examples of engine damage don’t become prominent in the aviation press.

How does volcanic ash cause damage to an aircraft and its engines? Allow me to explain...

The columns of ash that spew from a volcano, normally settle in the flight levels between FL320 and FL350. If seen in daylight, these extensive clouds of debris vary in colour from light brown to jet-black. The worst aspect of them is that they do not show up on Radar.  Every year there are normally 60 volcanic eruptions around the globe. Usually 10 of these are classified as being “major.” Every eruption poses many unknown ash hazards, and normally more than 100,000,000 tons of ash is thrown into the air from any major eruption. The properties of an ash plume are both abrasive and acidic and normally consist of hard, sharp fragments of glass and rock in varying sizes and having high concentrations of Sulphur Dioxide, which when mixed with water, becomes Sulphuric Acid.

All windows, light lenses and leading edges are severely damaged by the abrasive ash encounter. Pitot/static systems become clogged and when on the ground, braking action and traction is severely affected by the ash-bed that lays on a runway or taxi-way.

The lethal danger associated with volcanic ash is how quickly it will cause a flame-out and in-flight shutdown of a gas turbine engine. All of the compressor and turbine blades are severely eroded, causing immediate loss of power. Bleed and cooling airway holes quickly become blocked and immediately start affecting the normal airflow through the engine. The fuel-air mixture rapidly becomes too rich, and the engines flame-out. Before the engines do rich-cut, the chances are extremely high that enough igneous rock debris has made it through the hot section of the engine to start reforming as a glass coating or build up on many of the interior components. It goes without saying that if the engine does restart at a lower altitude; its serviceability is shot, whereby only an expensive teardown and overhaul will render it back to a serviceable state.

As I said earlier, volcanic ash plumes will not paint on Radar, therefore at night, when all visual cues have become shrouded by darkness, the only technology that will indicate its presence is either a laser or infra-red system. Usually however, it is the olfactory senses provided by the good old fashioned human nose, which will first sense the ash plumes proximity. In virtually all cases of aircraft that have flown through ash clouds, the crews have all reported that they smelled, or even saw smoke in their cockpits.

Now back to the AIM. As you have seen in this article, the existence and tracking of a volcanic plume is extremely difficult to be achieved by most aviation meteorological organizations. These groups rely heavily upon Pilot Reports (PIREPS) and therefore it is critical to air safety that if you encounter ash conditions in-flight, that you report them immediately. If operating in a known area of volcanic activity, make certain that you have read all NOTAMS and PIREPS that are available to you. Plan a reroute around all actual and forecasted ash clouds. Do not climb into ash. Instead reverse course and descend. Remember you are now in an emergency situation. If you encounter ash on the ground upon landing, do not use reverse thrust, and expect your traction and braking action to be minimal at best. If you are in the unusual position of being cleared to take-off on a runway contaminated by volcanic ash, it is imperative that you perform a long, slow and gentle running roll take-off, to not kick-up too much ash from your passage over it.

Do you still feel that it was a bad decision that was made recently over the volcanic ash contaminated skies of Europe? Hopefully your response is not just “no”, but “hell no” instead.

Off-Shore Aircraft Registration

In the maritime world, a ship is said to be "flying a flag of convenience" if it is registered in a foreign country "for purposes of reducing operating costs or avoiding government regulations." The country of registration determines the laws under which the ship is required to operate under and also that which are to be applied in any relevant maritime legal cases that might come about.

In aviation there are a multitude of reasons why you might choose to register your aircraft off-shore under the flag of a foreign country. Some of these include:

Complete Anonymity, i.e. if you suffer from celebrity notoriety; or you are a powerful corporate leader who relies on discreet and untracked movement within the territory of your competitors; or simply for personal reasons requiring anonymity. When your aircraft has been registered off-shore your privacy protection begins. If a journalist, corporate competitor or other interested party seeks the registered owner of your aircraft; their search will end with the contact details of your registered agent or trustee, and not with you.

Sales Tax or other Tax Avoidance, i.e. generally speaking, it is fairly simple for you to avoid a multitude of forms of taxation that are normally associated with the ownership and operation of a private or business aircraft, by registering it off-shore. Neutral Nationality Registration, i.e. this issue has become very prominent since we have moved into the new age of terrorism and unrest. By registering off-shore, you can fly internationally without instant recognition as being from the U.S.A.

Most foreign registries require that the registrant be a citizen of that country. The United States is the same: A U.S. citizen by definition of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 47.2 can be an individual, or partnership where each individual is a U.S. citizen, or a corporation organized under the laws of the United States, state, territory, or possession of the United States of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board of directors are U.S. citizens and 75 percent of the voting interest is owned or controlled by U.S. citizens. A resident alien is considered to be a corporation other than classified as a U.S. citizen, lawfully organized and doing business under the laws of the United States or of any state thereof, if the aircraft is based and used primarily in the United States; or a government entity (federal, state, or local). How then do these off-shore registries allow a foreigner to register with them? This is allowed by the employment of a native 'Trustee' or 'Agent' who acts on-behalf for the foreign ownership entity, under the auspices of a formal 'Trust Agreement.' In all cases there are annual fees that are payable to the agent. The U.S.A. aircraft registration branch is the only authority that I know of, that does not charge any annual registration fees.

Internationally, the most popular off-shore countries of registration are Bermuda, the United States of America, and now the relatively new player: the Isle of Mann. The "M" Registration was first introduced in 2007 by the government of this small island tax-haven which is located in the North Sea between England and Northern Ireland; it is probably better known for its T.T. motorcycle racing history rather than for its aviation industry.

Even though the aircraft eligible for entry onto the "M" or "Manx" registration must all be Type Certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Isle of Mann has chosen to more closely mimic the Federal Aviation Regulations of the United States rather than the bureaucratic tangles and inconsistencies that are normally found within the rules established by the European Aviation Authorities. Interestingly though, no non-resident islander can register any aircraft that is non-turbine powered and below 12,500 lbs MGTOW, or in the case of Helicopters, a non-twin-turbine powered machine.

Since a convenient loophole in the Value Added Tax (VAT) Regulations was recently exorcised by the European Union from the Danish Ministry of Taxations' rolls, whereby a 'flat-tax' was charged for an aircraft run through their tax-registration system, instead of the normal 25% or so, being charged like everyone else. The Isle of Man registry has quickly taken the lead largely because of its zero tax ratings for both corporations and inheritances, and depending on an aircraft owner's tax domicile, the Manx government provides a pathway for owners to either significantly reduce or even eliminate the VAT charge on their aircraft purchase.

By the beginning of November, 2009 almost 180 business jets and turbo-props had already been enrolled onto the Manx aircraft register. I am certain that this number shall continue climbing at a high rate. How do you or your company handle the Registration of you aircraft? Please click on the link below which states "Reply to this Article", your thoughts and comments would be very much appreciated. Be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice.

Have you had any experience with this topic? If so, Discuss it with us by clicking "Reply"

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