Also in January of this year, the FAA completed its first designated pilot examiner course for the new sport-pilot license. A dozen such courses are scheduled across the country throughout the year. Additionally, practical test standards for a sport-pilot airplane, gyroplane, glider, airship, balloon, weight-shift control and flight instructor now are up on the FAA’s Website at http://afs600.faa.gov
Student pilots and instructors now are complying with a new ruling that requires Transportation Security Administration clearance of any non-U.S. citizen who starts training for a new certificate or rating in any powered aircraft. The Alien Flight Training Rule also requires flight instructors and flight schools to check a student’s citizenship before providing training.
Starting in March of this year, pilots who own or operate turbine aircraft that carry six passengers or more (not including pilot and copilot) are required to have terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) on board. The rule (FAR 91.223) actually went into effect in March 2002, but came with a three-year grace period.
A new bill signed into law by President Bush will require pilot licenses to include a picture. The regulation doesn’t require pilots to get a new license, but before the year’s end, all new ratings will include a photo. New certificates will be tamper- and counterfeit-resistant and may have the ability to store biometric information.
Congress also passed the Commer-cial Space Launch Amendments Act. The bill gives the FAA some jurisdiction over the flights, but essentially strives to protect the “uninvolved public.” The legislation establishes regulatory parameters and limits the liability on commercial space ventures over the next eight years while giving the agency little authority over regulating passengers and crew. The bill’s sponsor, California Representative Dana Rohr-abacher, explained that restrained regulation was important so as not to “strangle this industry and drive these entrepreneurs offshore.”
This year also may see some significant changes in pilot services. The FAA and the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS), the union that operates the nation’s flight service stations (FSS), have squared off for some serious discussion. Under the Bush Administration, the government is looking for a minimum 22% budget belt-tightening and has put the contract for operating the Flight Service system out to bid. Included in the move is a plan to reduce the number of automated flight service stations by almost two-thirds. The overall result could very well be the privatization of America’s FSS network.
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