Gov't Aircraft lack FAA oversigh?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by inactive15, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. inactive15

    inactive15 Pre-Flight

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    Gov't Aircraft lack FAA oversight?

    Can someone explain this?

    "The Federal Aviation Administration has long said it doesn't have the authority to apply regulations to government agencies as long as their aircraft are engaged in public missions like firefighting or law enforcement. The FAA also doesn't regulate the airworthiness or maintenance of military surplus aircraft in use by government agencies."

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/11/28/national/w235519S41.DTL#ixzz1f937r18T
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  2. d.grimm

    d.grimm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No rules, we are the government!
     
  3. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    These are Public Aircraft.

    14 CFR 1.1

    Public aircraft means any of the following aircraft when not being used for a commercial purpose or to carry an individual other than a crewmember or qualified non-crewmenber:


    (1) An aircraft used only for the United States Government; an aircraft owned by the Government and operated by any person for purposes related to crew training, equipment development, or demonstration; an aircraft owned and operated by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments; or an aircraft exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by the government of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States or a political subdivision of one of these governments.
    (i) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, commercial purposes means the transportation of persons or property for compensation or hire, but does not include the operation of an aircraft by the armed forces for reimbursement when that reimbursement is required by any Federal statute, regulation, or directive, in effect on November 1, 1999, or by one government on behalf of another government under a cost reimbursement agreement if the government on whose behalf the operation is conducted certifies to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration that the operation is necessary to respond to a significant and imminent threat to life or property (including natural resources) and that no service by a private operator is reasonably available to meet the threat.
    (ii) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, governmental function means an activity undertaken by a government, such as national defense, intelligence missions, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement (including transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens), aeronautical research, or biological or geological resource management.
    (iii) For the sole purpose of determining public aircraft status, qualified non-crewmember means an individual, other than a member of the crew, aboard an aircraft operated by the armed forces or an intelligence agency of the United States Government, or whose presence is required to perform, or is associated with the performance of, a governmental function.


    (2) An aircraft owned or operated by the armed forces or chartered to provide transportation to the armed forces if—
    (i) The aircraft is operated in accordance with title 10 of the United States Code;
    (ii) The aircraft is operated in the performance of a governmental function under title 14, 31, 32, or 50 of the United States Code and the aircraft is not used for commercial purposes; or
    (iii) The aircraft is chartered to provide transportation to the armed forces and the Secretary of Defense (or the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating) designates the operation of the aircraft as being required in the national interest.


    (3) An aircraft owned or operated by the National Guard of a State, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States, and that meets the criteria of paragraph (2) of this definition, qualifies as a public aircraft only to the extent that it is operated under the direct control of the Department of Defense.


    While it is true the FAA cannot regulate these aircraft as far as airworthiness or pilot requirements, the FAA can enforce Part 91 operating limitations as they may apply.

     
  4. inactive15

    inactive15 Pre-Flight

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    Re: Gov't Aircraft lack FAA oversight?

    It's the lack of airworthiness oversight is what's bothering me. I can understand aircraft operations.
     
  5. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    Re: Gov't Aircraft lack FAA oversight?



    Public Use aircraft by law have no airworthiness oversight by the FAA. The agency operating the aircraft carry that responsibility.
     
  6. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    Similarly, a city's code officials don't have any authority over a state or federal building being built in their city (at least that's the way it is in Missouri). I used to be with an A/E firm that did quite a bit of work at one of Missouri's universities. There was quite a bit of non code complaint "cool stuff" designed into some of these structures. Nothing life threatening but still...
     
  7. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    One useful result of this lack of FAA oversight is that county and city cops can fly LSAs that were certified to 750 kg gross, such as Jabiru and Alpha. They use those 150 kg to pack IR cameras.
     
  8. PilotAlan

    PilotAlan Pattern Altitude

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    Re: Gov't Aircraft lack FAA oversight?

    It allows public safety operations that otherwise would not be permitted. Like putting in a FLIR unit, or rappelling a SWAT team from the chopper, or removable seats for insertion of a team, etc.
    Also, they operate surplus military aircraft, which do not have airworthiness certificates. And the military surplus engines and rotors don't have yellow tags that would satisfy the FAA.

    Yes, you could operate them in restricted category, but then you could not transport a SWAT team (required aircrew members only).

    And, last I checked, no one makes an STC for a rifle mount or gunner strap for an MD500. And I'm pretty sure that some of the things we did in police aviation would violate a great many FARs if we weren't in public use.
     
  9. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If anyone has time, the NTSB has a public forum on this issue tomorrow and thursday:

    http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2011/public_aircraft/index.html

    There have been a number of accidents where the non-adherence to best practices used in the industry otherwise has contributed to bad outcomes. At times, public agencies are (willfully) unaware of their responsibility to come up with their own maintenance and operations limitations. In addition to all the good things Alan mentions as to why public operation is necessary, at times it has been used to get simply get away with shoddy in-house maintenance in order to afford flying aircraft that would otherwise be outside of an agencies budget.
     
  10. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Indeed - the FAA Part 91 regulations even apply to military flights within the US national airspace outside of MOAs.
     
  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Heh heh. Mel Brooks comes to mind...

    "It's good to be da King!"
     
  12. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Only because the military choses to abide by the FAA practice. The FAA has no authority on it's own to regulate public or military aviation, only civil.

    The FAA was probably the most egregious offender of violations of best practices that would be mandatory by their own regs on civil aircraft. After a couple of incidents in the nineties they decided maybe they should follow their own rules.

    THe MD State Police (which administers the state Medevac system) similarly ran afoul of failure to use practices that were on par with civil standards.
     
  13. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    The FAA can regulate public operators via Part 91 and the NAS. While the operator may not follow crew requirements or maintenance/airworthiness they still must abide by NAS requirements.
     
  14. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 assigns authority only to the FAA. The military doesn't "choose" to abide by FAA practice. I wrote about this about 4 years ago - read post 5 in the thread at the link below where I cite the law in question (the military can only deviate from FAA regulations in a national emergency - and even then must eventually give the FAA notice when it can):

    http://www.aviationbanter.com/showthread.php?t=44169

    EDIT: "the Administrator shall
    consider the following matters, among others, as being in the
    public interest: [...] controlling the use of the navigable airspace and
    regulating civil and military operations in that airspace in the
    interest of the safety and efficiency of both of those
    operations.
    "
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  15. kkoran

    kkoran Cleared for Takeoff

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    Federal law and regulations do prescribe how public aircraft will operate in the NAS. From United States v. Christensen:
    Additionally, if the feds are "exempt" from FAA regulations, how come the military, CBP, etc., have to request exemptions from the FAA, and more importantly, the FAA can and has denied their requests? http://aes.faa.gov/
     
  16. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    Correct. Thanks for the links. :thumbsup:
     
  17. bigblockz8

    bigblockz8 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The best part about the government is that you don't need a license to drive while on official business. Same goes for flying! The FAA would have something to say about it for sure though!
     
  18. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    Not sure where you got that info, but I can attest that when operating a government car one does have to have a state drivers license.

    As far as operating a "public use aircraft", you are correct that no certificates are required. However the pilot is still responsible for operating in the NAS and following applicable rules.

    In my dealings with public use aircraft, I've yet to find an agency that allows anyone to pilot aircraft without the appropriate FAA ratings (except for military, national guard). These agencies still must deal with insurance issues even if they self insure. Having a non rated crewmember, even if allowed under law opens up too much liability.

    In the FAA all of their aircraft are operated under 14 CFR Part 135.
     
  19. n20junkie

    n20junkie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So an air force jet can't go supersonic over ohio? I bet they can.

    Can marine 1 fly below VFR weather minimums?




    Military choses to follow as best they can FAA regulations. But if the need to fly supersonic 50 feet off of KEWR's active while talking to nobody exists. They can, will, and there isn't a single thing the FAA can do about it.





    The military does **** that would blow the mind of OSHA. But OSHA can just add it to a report. They can't fine the military, DOE, FBI...........
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  20. n20junkie

    n20junkie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wrong.

    A US Military drivers license is all a person needs. There are lots of privates, airmen...... That have military drivers licenses but no state licenses. Think of kids that came from cities where there was no need.

    Just the same, I can drive an air braked semi, and as long as its on my .gov/mil license, I'm good to go.
     
  21. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    Sure they can. The CFR's restrict Civil Aircraft, not military from supersonic.

    Sure, just like any other helicopter.


    If you're implying a military aircraft can do such an event purely because they want to, then the answer is no. They are required ATC separation and flight rule compliance just like their civil counterparts. However, in an emergency that can change.
    Military aircraft can have a Pilot Deviation filed against them the same as civil aircraft. The difference is once the PD is filed the FAA turns it over to the appropriate military agency to handle. And each military branch has their own rules and regulations to follow while in the NAS.

    Each entity has their policy and procedures. I can't speak as to what OSHA can or would do, but I do know what the FAA can do.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  22. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Part 91 applies to all aircraft, civil and military. In the case of supersonic, 91.817 through 91.821 only apply to civil aircraft (because, well, that is what the rules say!)

    I believe most of the time Marine One is a helicopter, which has slightly more liberal minimums in 91.155(b)(1) in G airspace. But since the Executive branch can request waivers on any rule listed in 91.905, they no doubt can request flight below VFR minimums.

    As noted above, the FAA only wrote rules about supersonic flight of civil aircraft. If they had done so for military, they would have to abide by them.

    I'm not at all familiar with OSHA rules - but that body of laws and regulations isn't relevant to the extent and limits of FAA authority.
     
  23. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    The other person posted this in which I replied:

    We have a huge parking lot outside full of "G" cars (government owned, GSA)

    My reply was toward that, not military. And these vehicles (GSA) require a drivers license.
     
  24. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is that a GSA internal rule (because they dont want to be in the business of issuing drivers licenses) or is that because federal law requires a state license ?

    The analogue to the militaries use of the NAS is that even if you drive a GSA vehicle, you are still going to get a speeding ticked from a lowly state trooper or city cop. He can't dock you for a missing inspection sticker, but as long as you interact with other drivers on roads governed by the law he is hired to enforce, he can ticket you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  25. ejensen

    ejensen Pattern Altitude Gone West

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    Can't speak to GSA but in my former agency (USDA-Forest Service) it was required to be licensed according to the state you were based in. So if Colorado required a trailer license for tandom trailers then you had to have one. No one drove street legal vehicles without a State license. Requirement for a Federal license to go with it went away for awhile then came back much simplier form.
     
  26. n20junkie

    n20junkie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  27. ejensen

    ejensen Pattern Altitude Gone West

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    I believe you with regards to military ops. They are by nature a different beast. Many of the vehicles would not be street legal nor their aircraft certifiable. But I don't believe cilivian agencies are the same.
     
  28. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    You're missing the point. While you claim the military can just "do as they please" and laugh at everyone doing while doing it, that's just not the case.


    You know in reality that would never happen as the military isn't willing to risk civilian lives just "because we can". You also know that a "General" is not going to "laugh as he shreads it" if a military aviator was dumb enough to pull such a stunt. You're really going out on a limb trying to make your ill-conceived point. Take a recent case where a military pilot buzzed a football game. Using your "logic" he should be able to do that at will, except the outcome for the pilot was basically a ruined career, not by the FAA but by his branch of service.

    Since you feel the military can thumb their nose at the FAA (in reality they don"t) then why is there a system set up for the military to request waivers from certain CFR's? And the FAA can deny the waiver if they feel there is not an acceptable level of safety.
     
  29. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    That's not even remotely correct. The military justice system doesn't work that way at all.
     
  30. Dave Siciliano

    Dave Siciliano Final Approach

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    When flying in a state's National Guard, we did receive a couple violation notices through FAA. Our commanding officer decided how to act on them, not FAA. There was some voice raising and threatening, in the end it was handled internally. We had similar regs as was posted above. An FAA violation would very probably be a violation of our regs.

    Can you imagine FAA holding up a military deployment for say a ramp check <g>. Usually, FAA was satisfied that we would handle the violation. I don't think we ever turned over a pilot's name to them if they had a tail number and sometimes those were difficult to see in small letter on a camo aircraft. Still, we tried very hard to cooperate with them and enforce parallel regs. We normally did report what actions we took with the pilot which was normally anything from additional training to a ride with an instructor.

    I was on the receiving end of one of those when I departed a towered field in near zero zero conditions. I was ordered to return to base; the CO asked if I could get back safely and I told him I could but might need to depart below normal minimums. He said to return. Tower told me the field was closed and I think they could not technically provide permission to depart--it was quite awhile ago, but I still departed and got back safely. It was ground fog we quickly got on top of. We heard about it later and it was all smoothed out. I believe I was given counseling and that was reported to FAA. Not just a farce, I had to review the regulations and cite why I didn't technically comply and why I was able to do it safely and had appropriate authority.

    Best,

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  31. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The article, set off by the NTSB looking into the issue, was about 'public use' operations, not military. The NTSB does investigate 'public use' accidents and makes recommendations. They dont routinely investigate military accidents. The discussion what the military can and cannot do is somewhat peripheral to this issue.
     
  32. Richard

    Richard Final Approach

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    Ack...city life
    One of my favorites is the time I remodeled a building a friend owned. The USPS had a lease on the building. The city stepped in to red tag the job. One call to Wash DC and city tucked tail. They took a lot of heat for delaying the job in a functioning post office.
     
  33. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    >> Tower told me the field was closed and I think they could not technically provide permission to depart--it was quite awhile ago, but I still departed

    Hi Dave,

    Since Part 91 we can legally depart in zero/zero conditions, on what authority can a tower "close" a field? An airport manager could NOTAM a field closed, but I've never heard of that happening for weather. But the tower? Not their job, eh?

    Paul
     
  34. Richard

    Richard Final Approach

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    Ack...city life
    Who issues take off clearance when tower is in operation?
     
  35. Dave Siciliano

    Dave Siciliano Final Approach

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    Paul: This was a while back and it was a national guard flight. The tower basically told me there was no traffic but they couldn't clear me to depart or words to that effect. I wasn't on an IFR flight plan. Just popped up to VFR above. Maybe that was the issue. I just departed as if the tower was closed.


    Best,

    Dave
     
  36. Dave Siciliano

    Dave Siciliano Final Approach

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    Paul: This was a while back and it was a national guard flight. The tower basically told me there was no traffic but they couldn't clear me to depart or words to that effect. I wasn't on an IFR flight plan. Just popped up to VFR above. Maybe that was the issue. It was a low fog layer that was VFR just above.

    Well, now you've got me thinking about this and I don't recall all the details other than what I said above and we departed anyway but did coordinate with them. I don't think they ever said we couldn't depart; just that they couldn't clear us to depart. They may also have had trouble with a taxi clearance since they didn't have sight of much of the runway.


    Best,

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  37. Dave Siciliano

    Dave Siciliano Final Approach

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    Since it's been pointed out this doesn't apply to military flights, I'll get out of here, but we had some other extraordinary issues. This was before cell phones, and many times we needed to depart from field operations where we were literally out in some field somewhere. It could be very difficult or impossible to get an IFR clearance out of a place like that. There might not be a land line around for a long way; so, clearance with a void time wasn't practical. Also, telling a controller where you were using grid coordinates didn't work very well. We'd usually try to pop up somewhere we could get radio contact if there weren't other options. Of course this was well away from any busy areas.

    Best,

    Dave