ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
SUMMARY: This notice proposes to require additional qualifications and testing before a certificated pilot may engage or continue to engage in Mile High Club Operations (MHCO) while also exercising the privileges of a pilot certificate.
DATES: Comments should be received before December 31, 1999.
ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed or delivered in sextuplicate to:
Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Chief Counsel,
Attention: Rules Docket (AGC-204), Docket No. 75487345, 800
Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC 20591.
Comments may be examined in the Rules Docket weekdays, except Federal holidays, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Need for Rulemaking
Under the provisions of the East Chitlin Switch, Kansas, Wheat Silo Subsidy Act (P.L. 100-872398-A), Congress has mandated the FAA to regulate the activities of the formerly unregulated Mile High Club (MHC). Under present rules, anything accomplished at an altitude of one statute mile (5,280 feet) above ground level (AGL), regardless of the degree of difficulty or the level of expertise demanded, earns a certificated pilot a scroll illustrated by Milton Caniff and a three-color bumper sticker. Through a procedure of self-regulation, the organization has set forth requirements that activities take place at an altitude of at least 5,280 feet above ground level to prevent Denver pilots from messing around on the ramp. Although the organization has adopted rigid admission requirements for its pilot members, a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report disclosed an accident in a light training aircraft (LTA) caused by pilot error in the form of disorientation of a student pilot (sex unknown) after the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) (sex un-known) attempted to introduce the student to a maneuver not included in the MHC syllabus. Similarly, the crash of a corporate-owned Learjet in western Pennsylvania was thought to have been caused by the absence of the crew from the cockpit at the time the aircraft arrived in Pittsburgh. Further, evidence suggests that some hitherto unexplained accidents may have been due to pilot fatigue following Mile High Club Operations (MHCO) activities. These accidents have amply demonstrated that there is a compelling need for regulation of MHCO activities for the protection of the public and property under the flight paths of such aircraft.
The FAA is proposing to expand the scope of Part 61 of the FARs by the addition of paragraphs 61.300 through 61.305 to prohibit the propositioning of any occupant of a certificated aircraft by any licensed and current pilot who has not first demonstrated the ability to execute the duties of pilot-in-command and/or co-pilot to the satisfaction of an Operations Inspector or a designated Pilot Examiner. It is further proposed to establish minimum experience, age, and skill levels for the issuance of MCHO ratings to pilots' certificates. To ensure that a satisfactory level of proficiency is maintained by certificated pilots possessing MHCO ratings, it is proposed that biennial proficiency reviews be mandated.
Environmental Impact Statement
The adoption of these regulations is not anticipated to have a significant impact upon the environment including an impact upon population pressures.
Economic Impact Statement
The proposed rules would not materially impact the economics of MHCO activities, including those conducted for hire under Part 135.
For the purposes of this NPRM, the following Definitions are established:
PILOT: An applicant for or possessor of a MCHO rating regardless of sex, creed, color, political affiliation, proclivities, or physical dimensions.
CO-PILOT: Any person regardless of sex, creed, color, political affiliation, proclivities, or physical dimensions assisting a certificated, MHCO-rated pilot in carrying out MHCO activities.
PASSENGER: Any reliable witness to an MHCO flight test who does not actively participate.
FLIGHT ENGINEER: Anyone other than a co-pilot who assists the pilot in establishing the proper conditions for accomplishing the minimum requirements of MHCO activities.
AIRCRAFT: Any vehicle aloft suitable for MHCO activities. Does not include automobiles or parachutists falling from high places.
GLIDER: Anyone performing an MHCO activity entirely in mid-air such as during the free-fall period of a parachute jump.
HANG GLIDER: Glider with above-average equipment.
SOLO FLIGHT: A practice session where the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls.
DUAL FLIGHT: An MHCO activity during which the pilot uses both hands.
AUTOPILOT AUTHORIZATION: An authorization from the FAA permitting someone else to do it for a shy pilot.
The Proposed Rule
For reasons set forth above, the FAA is proposing to amend Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations as follows:
61.304 General Experience. No person may engage in MHCO activities as pilot-in-command of an aircraft carrying passengers, nor of an aircraft certificated for more than one required pilot flight crewmember unless within the preceding 90 days that person has satisfactorily carried out MHCO activities and has made suitable log book entries attesting the fact. This requirement does not apply to persons holding an airline transport pilot certificate or to activities conducted while operating under part 135 of this chapter.
61.305 Instrument Experience. No person may engage in MHCO activities unless, during the preceding 6 months, that person has conducted MHCO operations in the immediate vicinity of cold fronts and successfully logged at least 6 hours under actual or simulated IFR conditions which involved at least six approaches.