While acknowledging the confusion surrounding requirements for flight training in certain primary, limited, and experimental category aircraft, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson last week maintained that an interim process put in place to accommodate such activity is “far from being bureaucratic” and that the agency is moving quickly on instructor requests.
The FAA implemented the interim process as part of a policy determination in July to clarify that a flight instructor operating certain aircraft, such as a warbird, and carrying a paying student without a letter of deviation authority (LODA) is acting contrary to federal regulation, even if that compensation is for instruction and not carriage. That determination was met with substantial industry opposition.
Reps. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) have included legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act to reverse the policy. During a House aviation subcommittee hearing on Thursday, Graves reiterated his concerns about the policy, saying “it’s really creating a problem.”
Dickson responded that “I know that it has created some confusion and some frustration out there.” He added that while many disagree, “this actually wasn’t a change in legal interpretation.” A court case highlighted that the guidance surrounding the underlying regulation has been inconsistent, so the FAA updated the guidance, he said.
Further, the agency is updating the rules to permanently address the inconsistency, Dickson said, “but we wanted to have an interim process in place that facilitates the training.” And despite concerns about the required steps, he said, “we've actually created a very quick turnaround process on these [LODA] approvals. The time to process the deviation request is less than a day.”
In addition, Dickson further addressed concerns that the determination could extend beyond the scope of primary, limited, and experimental category aircraft, saying that as the FAA continues to work on a rulemaking update, “I want to make sure though that we're really talking about something that's very narrowly focused and we want to make sure that this doesn't go into other areas.”
He pledged to continue working with lawmakers to address concerns surrounding the training requirements.