[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 12 (Wednesday, January 21, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 3469-3475]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-1140]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 121

[Docket No. FAA-2009-0022; Notice No. 09-01]
RIN 2120-AJ30


Crewmember Requirements When Passengers Are Onboard

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: Currently, during passenger boarding and deplaning, all flight 
attendants are required to be on board the airplane. This rulemaking 
would allow one required flight attendant to deplane during passenger 
boarding, and conduct safety-related duties, as long as certain 
conditions are met. In addition, this rulemaking would allow a 
reduction of flight attendants remaining on board the airplane during 
passenger deplaning, as long as certain conditions are met. The FAA has 
determined that these revisions to current regulations can be made as a 
result of recent safety enhancements to airplane equipment and 
procedures. These changes have mitigated the risks to passengers during 
ground operations that previously required all flight attendants on 
board the airplane during passenger boarding and deplaning.

DATES: Send your comments on or before April 21, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You may send comments identified by Docket Number FAA-2009-
0022 using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W12-
140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Bring comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.
    For more information on the rulemaking process, see the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
    Privacy: We will post all comments we receive, without change, to 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you 
provide. Using the search function of our docket Web site, anyone can 
find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any of 
our dockets,

[[Page 3470]]

including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing 
the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may 
review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register 
published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78) or you may visit http://
DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: To read background documents or comments received, go to 
http://www.regulations.gov at any time and follow the online 
instructions for accessing the docket. Or, go to the Docket Operations 
in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions concerning this proposed 
rule contact Jodi L. Baker, Air Transportation Division/Air Carrier 
Operations Branch, AFS-220, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-
8166; facsimile (202) 267-5229, e-mail Jodi.L.Baker@faa.gov. For legal 
questions concerning this proposed rule contact Paul Greer, Operations 
Law Branch, AGC-220; telephone (202) 267-3073, e-mail 
Paul.Greer@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Later in this preamble under the Additional 
Information section, we discuss how you can comment on this proposal 
and how we will handle your comments. Included in this discussion is 
related information about the docket, privacy, and the handling of 
proprietary or confidential business information. Also, we discuss how 
you can get a copy of this proposal and related rulemaking documents.

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes 
the authority of the FAA Administrator, including the authority to 
issue, rescind, and revise regulations. Subtitle VII, Aviation 
Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. 
This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 
Subtitle VII, Part A, Chapter 447--Safety Regulation. Under section 
44701(a)(5), the FAA is charged with promoting safe flight of civil 
aircraft by, among other things, prescribing regulations the FAA finds 
necessary for safety in air commerce.

Background

Statement of the Problem

    The FAA has decided to review its current regulation regarding 
flight attendant requirements during passenger boarding and deplaning 
in light of safety enhancements to airplane equipment and procedures, 
and changes in airplane security procedures and requirements. These 
changes have mitigated the risks to passengers during ground operations 
that previously required all flight attendants be on board the airplane 
during passenger boarding and deplaning.
    Current rules prohibit a required flight attendant from deplaning 
an airplane for any reason during passenger boarding and deplaning, 
even to conduct safety-related duties. This prohibition has 
unintentional consequences that may adversely affect conditions inside 
the passenger cabin. This proposed rule would allow air carriers to 
permit one required flight attendant to deplane during passenger 
boarding and one or more required flight attendants to deplane during 
passenger deplaning, subject to certain conditions and limitations.

History

    This issue has been addressed numerous times over the last two 
decades and has been the subject of guidance documents, legal 
interpretations and petitions for exemption.
    In 1982, the FAA amended 14 CFR 121.391 and inserted Sec.  
121.391(e) to allow a reduction in the number of required flight 
attendants during stops where passengers remain on board (also called 
``intermediate stops'') (47 FR 56460; December 16, 1982). Section 
121.391(e) was recodified as Sec.  121.393(b) in 1995 (60 FR 65832; 
December 20, 1995).
    On May 14, 1985, John Cassady, Assistant Chief Counsel for the 
Regulations and Enforcement Division of the FAA, issued a written 
interpretation to William Brennan, Manager of the Flight Standards 
Service, Air Transportation Division, stating that ``during the 
deplaning and boarding phase at an intermediate stop, all of the flight 
attendants required by 14 CFR 121.391(a) must be on board the 
aircraft.'' A copy of this document has been placed in the docket for 
this rulemaking. This rulemaking is intended to codify a change to this 
interpretation.
    On August 8, 1986, the Director of the Flight Standards Service 
issued Action Notice A8430.5, FAR 121.391(a) and (e); Flight 
Attendants, stating ``at intermediate stops where passengers remain on 
board the aircraft, at least the number of persons specified in Sec.  
121.391(e) must be aboard the aircraft. This includes that period of 
time during which passengers are deplaning or boarding.'' This Action 
Notice appeared to permit a reduction of required flight attendant 
crewmembers during boarding and deplaning at intermediate stops, 
possibly in conflict with the legal interpretation of 1985. Although 
currently expired, a copy of this document has also been placed in the 
docket for this rulemaking.
    On April 5, 1989, the FAA issued an NPRM, ``Flight Attendant 
Requirements'' (54 FR 15134; April 14, 1989) proposing to allow a 
reduced number of flight attendants aboard passenger-carrying airplanes 
at all stops, during passenger boarding and deplaning, subject to 
certain conditions and limitations. The NPRM was withdrawn in 1996 (61 
FR 29000; June 6, 1996).
    In 2003, the Air Transport Association (ATA) petitioned for 
rulemaking to amend Sec.  121.391 and permit flight attendants to use a 
phone on the passenger loading bridge during boarding, deplaning and 
stops where passengers remain on board (68 FR 61161; October 27, 2003). 
The ATA subsequently withdrew the petition on December 12, 2003, noting 
it cited an incorrect regulation (Regulatory Docket No. FAA-2003-
14594). The ATA did not re-petition.
    On May 8, 2001, the FAA's Assistant Chief Counsel for Regulations 
affirmed the 1985 legal interpretation that all flight attendants 
required by Sec.  121.391 needed to be on board the aircraft during 
passenger boarding and deplaning in a memo to the Manager of the Air 
Transportation Division. The Air Transportation Division subsequently 
issued guidance in accordance with the 2001 legal interpretation via 
Flight Standards Information Bulletin for Air Transportation, FSAT 01-
03, Number of Flight Attendants Required at Stops Where Passengers 
Remain Onboard, 14 CFR 121.391 and 121.393. A copy of this document has 
also been placed in the docket for this rulemaking. The information 
contained in this FSAT is currently found in FAA Order 8900.1, Flight 
Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) Volume 3, Chapter 33 
Cabin Safety and Flight Attendant Management, section 4 Flight 
Attendant Requirements (http://fsims.faa.gov/).
    In 2006, Southwest Airlines petitioned for an exemption to 
substitute a pilot for one required flight attendant during boarding at 
an intermediate stop and to reduce the number of required flight 
attendants on board during the deplaning of passengers at an 
intermediate stop. The FAA granted this exemption in 2007

[[Page 3471]]

(Exemption No. 9382, Regulatory Docket No. FAA-2006-25466). Three 
additional air carriers have been issued similar grants of exemption 
since the issuance of the original grant.

Current Requirements

    During any passenger boarding and deplaning, the full complement of 
flight attendants required by Sec.  121.391(a) must be on board the 
airplane at all times (See Memo from John Cassady to William Brennan, 
dated May 14, 1985). However Sec.  121.393 permits a reduction of the 
number of required flight attendants when passengers are on board the 
airplane with the engines shut down and at least one floor level exit 
is open to provide for the deplaning of passengers. The formula for 
determining the reduction of flight attendants is: Half the number of 
flight attendants required by Sec.  121.391(a), rounded down to the 
next lower number in the case of a fraction, but never fewer than one.

General Discussion of the Proposal

    During passenger boarding and deplaning, it may be in the interest 
of the traveling public for a flight attendant to conduct safety-
related duties outside the airplane cabin. However, current regulations 
prohibit a flight attendant from performing these duties if the flight 
attendant is one of the flight attendants required by Sec.  121.391(a).
    As previously noted, the number of flight attendants required 
during passenger boarding and deplaning has been discussed numerous 
times since 1985. Although the FAA consistently upheld the requirement 
that all flight attendants required by Sec.  121.391(a) stay on board 
the airplane during boarding and deplaning, changes to regulations 
since 1985 have reduced the hazards to passengers during these phases 
of operation. These changes have reduced risks to passengers by 
improving firefighting equipment, increasing the time available to 
evacuate an airplane and improving accessibility to exits. Examples 
include:
     Requiring lavatory smoke detectors, automatic lavatory 
waste receptacle fire extinguishers and Halon 1211 extinguishers;
     Improving cabin interior flammability standards to enhance 
survivability by increasing the time before flashover occurs;
     Improving thermal insulation standards to reduce the risk 
of fire in inaccessible parts of the airplane cabin and increase the 
time available for a passenger evacuation; and
     Improving passenger access to Type III (typically 
overwing) emergency exits.
    In addition to the above certification regulation changes, the FAA 
has revised operational regulations since 1985, which has also reduced 
the risks to passengers during boarding and deplaning. First, prior to 
1987, air carriers were not required to screen passengers for excess or 
oversized carry-on baggage prior to boarding the aircraft. Current 
carry-on baggage regulations require this action, which has reduced 
flight attendant workload in the handling of carry-on baggage during 
passenger boarding. Flight attendants no longer have to stow an 
unlimited amount of baggage carried on the airplane by passengers. 
Second, Sec.  121.585, promulgated in 1990, requires an air carrier to 
assign exit seats to passengers after considering a list of exit seat 
selection criteria and the passenger's ability to perform exit seat 
functions. Because the majority of passengers have been screened to 
meet exit seat criteria, these considerations lead to exit seat 
passengers being more likely to initiate ``self-help'' in the event of 
an emergency during passenger boarding. Third, the changes to FAA 
operational regulations have been complemented since 2001 by improved 
Transportation Security Administration regulations, which have reduced 
the risk of a security-related threat during passenger boarding or 
deplaning even further.
    All of these changes mitigate the risks to which passengers are 
exposed during boarding and deplaning. As a result, the FAA now 
proposes to permit a reduced required flight attendant crew during 
boarding and deplaning.

Limitations Applicable to Passenger Boarding

    The FAA believes it appropriate to permit one required flight 
attendant to conduct safety-related duties either in the passenger 
loading bridge connected to the airplane; or in another nearby 
location, such as the bottom of the boarding stairs. To maintain the 
current level of safety, however, the certificate holder would have to 
comply with the following restrictions:
     The flight attendant deplaning the airplane must remain 
within 30 feet of the passenger entry door;
     The flight attendant deplaning the airplane must be 
conducting safety-related duties related to the flight being boarded. 
The flight attendant may not conduct non-safety-related duties such as 
personal business; and
     The airplane must be of a type that requires two or more 
flight attendants in accordance with Sec.  121.391(a). A required 
flight attendant may not leave an airplane with a passenger seating 
capacity of less than 50, because one flight attendant must remain on 
the airplane at all times.
    Typically, during passenger boarding, the airplane cabin starts 
empty and becomes increasingly more populated by arriving passengers. 
The increased number of passengers leads to an increased number of 
safety duties inside the airplane cabin. Examples include: Scanning 
passenger carry-on baggage to ensure compliance with both Sec.  121.585 
and the air carrier's approved carry-on baggage program, and verifying 
compliance with the approved exit seat program. The FAA believes 
permitting only one flight attendant to deplane during boarding and 
limiting the amount of time he or she is absent from the airplane cabin 
(by limiting the type of duties he or she may perform) ensures the 
remaining flight attendant(s) are able to effectively manage safety 
duties inside the airplane. It may be necessary for the certificate 
holder to revise other approved programs, such as its carry-on baggage 
program or exit seat program, to ensure all required duties are 
accomplished by the remaining flight attendant(s). Also, if the 
airplane requires only one flight attendant in accordance with Sec.  
121.391(a), the FAA is not permitting that flight attendant to deplane. 
This ensures no passengers are left unattended on board the airplane.
    When the ATA petitioned for rulemaking in 2003, it proposed that a 
flight attendant could use the telephone installed on the passenger 
loading bridge to contact and coordinate with other airline personnel, 
or local law enforcement, to assist with Federal regulation compliance 
and to identify security issues or medical emergencies. The FAA agrees 
that a flight attendant be permitted to use the telephone installed on 
the passenger loading bridge to perform these functions, but is also 
proposing to permit a flight attendant to deplane during boarding to 
conduct other safety-related duties, provided he or she remains within 
30 feet of the airplane's passenger entry door. This would allow a 
flight attendant to use the telephone installed on the passenger 
loading bridge and to conduct other duties, such as removing excess or 
oversized carry-on baggage from the airplane and placing it on the 
passenger loading bridge or adjacent to the bottom of the boarding 
stairs. It would also permit a flight attendant to coordinate with 
other airline personnel in cases where a telephone is not installed on 
the passenger loading bridge or a passenger loading bridge is not used 
for boarding. A flight attendant deplaning during passenger boarding 
should not be carrying passenger carry-

[[Page 3472]]

on bags to the cargo hold for stowage or re-entering the passenger 
terminal to coordinate with other employees. Also, by requiring a 
flight attendant to remain within 30 feet of the door being used for 
passenger boarding, the flight attendant is still quickly available to 
assist passengers in the event of an emergency in the cabin. The FAA 
specifically requests comments about the adequacy of the proposed 30 
foot limitation.
    Finally, a flight attendant who deplanes during boarding is limited 
to performing only safety-related duties related to the flight being 
boarded. Existing regulations already restrict a flight attendant to 
performing only safety-related duties during airplane movement on the 
surface. A flight attendant who deplanes during boarding would not be 
permitted to conduct non-safety-related duties, such as collecting 
passenger tickets or calling for catering. A flight attendant who 
deplanes during boarding also may not conduct personal business, such 
as submitting bids related to crew scheduling, making layover 
arrangements, or conducting family business. Allowing a flight 
attendant to conduct business not related to the safety of the flight 
would not be in the public interest and would not be permitted.

Substituting a Qualified Crewmember for a Required Flight Attendant 
During Passenger Boarding

    Only two types of qualified crewmembers are used in air carrier 
operations: Flightcrew members or flight attendants. This proposed rule 
would allow a flightcrew member to substitute for one required flight 
attendant during boarding. Nothing in the proposed rule, or the current 
rule, prevents an air carrier from substituting a qualified flight 
attendant for another qualified flight attendant; however, if the air 
carrier chooses to substitute another qualified crewmember, such as a 
pilot or flight engineer, the certificate holder must meet certain 
conditions.
    The proposed rule addresses two possible scenarios during boarding 
that involve a reduction, by one, of the number of flight attendants 
required for boarding by Sec.  121.391(a), on an airplane that requires 
more than one flight attendant. The first scenario, previously 
discussed and addressed in proposed Sec.  121.394(a)(1), is when one 
required flight attendant steps off the airplane during boarding to 
perform safety related duties and remains within 30 feet of the 
boarding door.
    The second scenario is when one required flight attendant is not 
within 30 feet of the boarding door and is addressed in proposed Sec.  
121.394(a)(2). In this case, a qualified flightcrew member, such as a 
pilot or flight engineer, may substitute in the cabin for one required 
flight attendant who is not on the airplane when boarding commences or 
who leaves the vicinity of the aircraft during boarding.
    Under proposed Sec.  121.394(a)(2), the flightcrew member who 
substitutes for the required flight attendant must be trained and 
qualified on that airplane as a pilot or a flight engineer for that 
certificate holder. This ensures that the flightcrew member has 
received emergency and security training that is specific to that 
airplane and that certificate holder.
    If the certificate holder chooses to substitute a flightcrew member 
for a flight attendant in accordance with proposed Sec.  121.394(a)(2), 
it must ensure the substitute crewmember is prepared to conduct his or 
her duties by having in his or her possession all items required for 
duty by the air carrier, such as a flight operations or flight 
attendant manual. The substitute crewmember must also be identifiable 
to the passengers as a working ``crewmember.''
    In addition, the certificate holder must ensure the use of a 
substitute crewmember does not impinge on the duty and rest 
requirements of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). The FAA 
has previously stated via legal interpretation that pre- and post-
flight duties are part of a duty period (see August 12, 2008, FAA 
letter to Brent Harper, Southwest Airlines). A copy of this document 
has been placed in the docket for this rulemaking. Therefore, a 
substitute crewmember is ``on duty'' while substituting for an assigned 
flight attendant.
    Additional procedures that would have to be developed by the 
certificate holder and described in its manual system under proposed 
Sec.  121.394(a)(2) include:
     The functions to be performed by the substitute crewmember 
and remaining flight attendants in an emergency or situation requiring 
emergency evacuation. Similar to the requirements found in Sec.  
121.397, the certificate holder must show that these functions are 
realistic, can be practically accomplished and will meet any reasonably 
anticipated emergency;
     A method to ensure that the substitution of a flightcrew 
member for a flight attendant during passenger boarding does not 
interfere with the safe operation of the flight (e.g. interfering with 
the completion of the flightcrew member's pre-flight duties, 
checklists, etc);
     A method to ensure that the flightcrew member is located 
in the passenger cabin during the substitution; and
     A method to ensure that other regulatory safety functions 
performed by a flight attendant, including but not limited to, 
monitoring passengers during refueling, scanning passenger carry-on 
baggage during boarding, and verifying suitability of exit seat 
passengers, are accomplished by the flightcrew member and the remaining 
flight attendants on the airplane.
     A method to ensure that the substitute flightcrew member 
is trained in all assigned flight attendant duties.

Limitations Applicable to Passenger Deplaning

    A flight attendant may be asked to conduct other safety-related 
duties during passenger deplaning, such as maintaining custody of an 
unaccompanied minor or contacting local law enforcement to assist with 
an unruly passenger. However, the conditions present during passenger 
deplaning mitigate safety risks to passengers to allow a further 
reduction in required flight attendants. The FAA proposes to permit a 
reduction to half the number of flight attendants required by Sec.  
121.391(a), rounded down to the next lower number in the case of a 
fraction, but never fewer than one.
    At the time of deplaning, each passenger has already received all 
required safety information briefings and had an opportunity to review 
the passenger safety information card and all posted signs and 
placards. In addition, a crewmember has verified the suitability of 
exit seat passengers, and the exit seat passengers have had an 
opportunity to ask questions about their exit seat responsibilities. 
These passengers are better prepared to assist themselves in an 
emergency evacuation than those passengers just boarding an airplane. 
During deplaning, passengers are in the process of leaving the airplane 
in an orderly fashion through one or more floor-level exits with pre-
positioned passenger loading bridges or boarding stairs. These factors 
lessen the exposure time to the risk of an emergency or a possible 
evacuation. Further, exiting passengers, as well as additional airline 
personnel, are available to assist the remaining flight attendant(s) 
with an unruly or threatening passenger during deplaning.

Limitations Applicable During Boarding and Deplaning Passengers

    In addition to the specific limitations described above, the FAA 
proposes requiring a certificate holder to duplicate ground conditions 
already designed to reduce risks to passengers

[[Page 3473]]

when a reduced number of flight attendants is on board an airplane. The 
FAA required these conditions when risks were considered in reducing 
the number of required flight attendants during stops where passengers 
remain on board. The conditions are: The airplane is stationary in a 
level attitude with at least one floor-level exit open; and all engines 
are shut down, mitigating the risk of an engine torching or 
overheating. These conditions must also exist to permit a reduction in 
the number of required flight attendants during passenger boarding and 
deplaning, in order to provide the same level of risk mitigation as at 
a stop where passengers remain on board. If the certificate holder 
cannot provide these conditions, it may not reduce the flight attendant 
crew below the requirements of Sec.  121.391(a).
    Finally, the FAA proposes the flight attendants remaining on board 
the airplane be evenly distributed near the floor-level exits. This 
proposed requirement would assure that the flight attendants are 
available to deal more effectively with an emergency evacuation, should 
the need arise. If only one flight attendant remains on board the 
airplane during passenger boarding, he or she must be located in 
accordance with the air carrier's FAA-approved operating procedures. 
The air carrier should consider items such as the location of the door 
being used for passenger boarding, the configuration of the cabin, the 
location of the emergency light switch, and the air carrier's emergency 
procedures when determining the best location for the flight attendant.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. We have determined that there 
is no new information collection requirement associated with this 
proposed rule.

International Compatibility

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to comply with 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices 
that correspond to these proposed regulations.

Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Determination, 
International Trade Impact Assessment, and Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 directs that each Federal agency 
shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination 
that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) requires 
agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small 
entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits 
agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary obstacles to 
the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing U.S. 
standards, the Trade Act requires agencies to consider international 
standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis of U.S. 
standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 
104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, 
benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a 
Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 
1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of 
the economic impacts of this proposed rule.
    The FAA has decided to review its current regulations regarding 
flight attendant requirements during passenger boarding and deplaning, 
in light of safety enhancements to airplane equipment and procedures, 
and changes in airplane security procedures and requirements. These 
changes have mitigated the risks to passengers during ground operations 
that previously required all flight attendants on board the airplane 
during passenger boarding and deplaning. This proposed rule merely 
revises and clarifies existing FAA rules and is cost relieving and does 
not impose any cost on any regulated entity.
    FAA has, therefore, determined that this proposed rule is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866, and is not ``significant'' as defined in DOT's 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions. Agencies must perform a review to determine 
whether a rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. If the agency determines that it will, the 
agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in 
the RFA. However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected 
to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the 
agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. The certification must include a statement providing the 
factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be 
clear.
    The FAA has decided to review its current regulation regarding 
flight attendant requirements during passenger boarding and deplaning, 
in light of safety enhancements to airplane equipment and procedures, 
and changes in airplane security procedures and requirements. These 
changes have mitigated the risks to passengers during ground operations 
that previously required all flight attendants to be on board the 
airplane during passenger boarding and deplaning. This proposed rule is 
cost relieving and does not impose any cost on any regulated entity.
    Therefore, the FAA certifies that this proposed rule would not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The FAA solicits comments regarding this determination.

International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing any standards or engaging in related 
activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of 
the United States. Legitimate domestic objectives, such as safety, are 
not considered unnecessary obstacles. The statute also requires 
consideration of international standards and, where appropriate, that 
they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has assessed the 
potential effect of this proposed rule

[[Page 3474]]

and has determined that it would have only a domestic impact and 
therefore no affect on international trade.

Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(adjusted annually for inflation with the base year 1995) in any one 
year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by 
the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ``significant 
regulatory action.'' The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value 
of $136.1 million in lieu of $100 million. This proposed rule does not 
contain such a mandate.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this proposed rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. We determined that this 
action would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the 
relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the 
distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government, and, therefore, would not have federalism implications.

Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has 
determined this proposed rulemaking action qualifies for the 
categorical exclusion identified in paragraph 312(f) and involves no 
extraordinary circumstances.

Additional Information

Comments Invited

    The FAA invites interested persons to participate in this 
rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views. We also 
invite comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, or 
federalism impacts that might result from adopting the proposals in 
this document. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion 
of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and 
include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain 
duplicate comments, please send only one copy of written comments, or 
if you are filing comments electronically, please submit your comments 
only one time.
    We will file in the docket all comments we receive, as well as a 
report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel 
concerning this proposed rulemaking. Before acting on this proposal, we 
will consider all comments we receive on or before the closing date for 
comments. We will consider comments filed after the comment period has 
closed if it is possible to do so without incurring expense or delay. 
We may change this proposal in light of the comments we receive.

Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    You can get an electronic copy of rulemaking documents using the 
Internet by--
    1. Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://
www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://
www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/; or
    3. Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://
www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
    You can also get a copy by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make 
sure to identify the docket number, notice number, or amendment number 
of this rulemaking.
    You may access all documents the FAA considered in developing this 
proposed rule, including economic analyses and technical reports, from 
the Internet through the Federal eRulemaking Portal referenced in 
paragraph 1.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 121

    Aviation safety, Air carriers, Air transportation, Airplanes, 
Airports, Boarding, Crewmembers, Deplaning, Flight attendants, Pilots, 
Transportation, Common carriers.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration proposes to amend Chapter I, Part 121 of Title 14, Code 
of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 121--OPERATING REQUIREMENTS: DOMESTIC, FLAG, AND SUPPLEMENTAL 
OPERATIONS

    1. The authority citation for part 121 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 40119, 41706, 44101, 44701-
44702, 44705, 44709-44711, 44713, 44716-44717, 44722, 46105.

    2. Revise Sec.  121.391(a) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  121.391  Flight attendants.

    (a) Except as specified in Sec.  121.393 and Sec.  121.394, each 
certificate holder must provide at least the following flight 
attendants on board each passenger-carrying airplane when passengers 
are on board:
* * * * *
    3. Add Sec.  121.394 to read as follows:


Sec.  121.394  Flight attendant requirements during passenger boarding 
and deplaning.

    (a) During passenger boarding, on each airplane for which more than 
one flight attendant is required by Sec.  121.391(a), the certificate 
holder may reduce the number of required flight attendants by one, 
provided the requirements of either paragraph (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this 
section are met.
    (1) When the flight attendant leaving the airplane remains within 
30 feet of the door through which passengers are boarding:
    (i) The flight attendant may only conduct safety duties related to 
the flight being boarded;
    (ii) The airplane engines are shut down; and
    (iii) At least one floor level exit remains open to provide for the 
deplaning of passengers.
    (2) When the flight attendant leaving the airplane does not remain 
within 30 feet of the door through which passengers are boarding, a 
flightcrew member of the certificate holder, trained and qualified on 
that type airplane, may substitute for the flight attendant provided:
    (i) The certificate holder describes in its manual the necessary 
functions to be performed by the substitute crewmember and remaining 
flight attendants in an emergency or situation requiring emergency 
evacuation. The certificate holder must show those functions are 
realistic, can be practically accomplished and will meet any reasonably 
anticipated emergency.
    (ii) The certificate holder describes in its manual how other 
regulatory functions performed by a flight attendant will be 
accomplished by the substitute crewmember and the remaining flight 
attendants on the airplane.
    (iii) The certificate holder ensures the substitute flightcrew 
member is trained in all assigned flight attendant duties.
    (iv) The certificate holder ensures the substitute crewmember is in 
possession of all items required for duty.
    (v) The certificate holder ensures the substitute crewmember is 
located in the passenger cabin.
    (vi) The certificate holder identifies the substitute crewmember to 
the passengers.

[[Page 3475]]

    (vii) The certificate holder ensures the time spent conducting 
boarding duties applies towards daily duty time limits and is 
considered when determining crewmember rest requirements.
    (viii) The certificate holder does not permit the substitution of a 
flightcrew member for a flight attendant to interfere with the safe 
operation of the flight. If all flightcrew members are required to 
perform preflight duties, passenger boarding must not commence until 
the flight attendants required by Sec.  121.391(a) are on board the 
airplane.
    (ix) The airplane engines are shut down.
    (x) At least one floor-level exit remains open for the deplaning of 
passengers.
    (b) During passenger deplaning, on each airplane for which more 
than one flight attendant is required by Sec.  121.391(a), the 
certificate holder may reduce the number of flight attendants required 
by that paragraph provided:
    (1) The airplane engines are shut down;
    (2) At least one floor level exit remains open to provide for the 
deplaning of passengers;
    (3) The number of flight attendants on board is at least half the 
number required by Sec.  121.391(a), rounded down to the next lower 
number in the case of fractions, but never fewer than one.
    (c) If only one flight attendant is on the airplane during 
passenger boarding or deplaning, that flight attendant must be located 
in accordance with the certificate holder's FAA-approved operating 
procedures. If more than one flight attendant is on the airplane during 
passenger boarding or deplaning, the flight attendants must be evenly 
distributed throughout the airplane cabin, in the vicinity of the 
floor-level exits, to provide the most effective assistance in the 
event of an emergency.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 14, 2009.
John M. Allen,
Director, Flight Standards Service.
[FR Doc. E9-1140 Filed 1-16-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P