Part 135 | Air Tours, Skydiving Flights May Change Parts 

FAR Regulations (10)

Proposed Part 135 Rules Could Affect Air Tours and Skydiving 

Trying to make a living in aviation is hard enough these days without the government throwing curve balls at you. It’s already a challenge to make everything come together to run a profitable business in general aviation. Finding and training qualified crew members, anticipating weather issues and maintenance is a lot as a Part 91 operation. But mandating all sightseeing, air tour, and skydiving operations to become Part 135 may hurt many of these Part 91 operations. 

If this new Senate Bill is enacted, it will directly affect many pilots. The change comes as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act that has already been passed by the Commerce Committee this month and would require all nonstop sightseeing and skydiving flights to be operated under Part 135 rules. Most of these companies have been flying using the same letter of authorization that the museum has been using and getting along just fine. 

Apparently, many aviation groups agree and are urging the leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (and its Aviation Subcommittee) to remove these provisions from the final version of the Bill. The groups are concerned that passing the legislation as it is written will “have significant and insurmountable direct impacts on thousands of small general aviation businesses and the airports at which they operate”. Without question, this Bill would negatively impact countless numbers of hard-working Americans who are trying their best to make a living doing what they love. 

Part 91 and 135 Operations 

Aviation regulations like parts 91 and 135 are complex and require professional interpretation. Here’s a general overview of the types of flights that can be performed by U.S. aircraft under Part 91 and Part 135 regulations. 

Part 91 

  • Non-Commercial Flights: These include private, corporate, and business flights. The operations are more flexible and offer more freedom to general aviation operators in how they want to operate. 
  • Visual Flight Rules (VFR): VFR flights are permitted under Part 91, provided that the pilot adheres to the specific weather conditions and other requirements outlined in the regulations. 
  • Instrument Flight Rules (IFR): IFR flights are also allowed under Part 91, subject to specific requirements regarding weather conditions, pilot qualifications, and equipment on the aircraft. 
  • International Flights: Flights between Mexico or Canada and the United States can be conducted under Part 91. 

Part 135 

  • Commercial Flights: These include unscheduled air transportation such as charter flights and air taxi services. 
  • Commuter Operations: Part 135 also covers scheduled commuter operations with aircraft seating 9 passengers or less, and with a payload capacity of 7,500 pounds or less. 
  • VFR and IFR Flights: Both VFR and IFR flights are allowed under Part 135, subject to specific requirements outlined in the regulations. 

As discussed with the implementation of the new bill, specifics of what is allowed under each part can vary and depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the type of aircraft, the qualifications of the crew, and the nature of the operation. For the most accurate information, it’s always best to refer directly to the Federal Aviation Regulations or consult with a knowledgeable aviation professional. 

Obtaining and maintaining a Part 135 Certificate is hugely expensive and full of regulatory pitfalls, more than the average small-time operator could likely survive. Not to mention the effect that this change would have on the FAA and its already overburdened employees. Adding thousands of new businesses to inspectors who are barely able to handle their current responsibilities would shake the very foundation of the FAA, compromising the reason that they exist in the first place- to keep aviation safe. 

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