[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 128 (Tuesday, July 3, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 39446-39447]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15912]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 139


Draft Parachute Landing Area Standards

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT), invites the United States Parachute Association, 
skydiving businesses, airport operators, airport consultants, industry 
representatives and all other interested parties to review and comment 
on the draft ``Parachute Landing Area Standards'' contained in Change 
19 to the Airport Design Advisory Circular (``AC''), AC 150/5300-13. 
This change establishes new standards and recommendations for parachute 
landing areas on airports. This action proposes to clarify the FAA 
policies and standards concerning access to federally obligated 
airports for parachute landing activities. It also proposes to clarify 
Grant Assurance No. 22, ``Economic Nondiscrimination,'' which is 
required of a sponsor as a condition of receiving a grant under the 
Airport Improvement Program (AIP), to incorporate these standards.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before August 17, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments must be submitted by:
     Hand Delivery/Courier: Federal Aviation Administration, 
800 Independence Avenue SW., AAS-100, Room 621, Washington, DC 20590.
     Fax: (202) 267-3688.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Khalil Elias Kodsi, P.E. PMP, Airport 
Engineering Division, (AAS-100), Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-7553.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FAA has posted Change 19 for the 
Advisory Circular on the Internet at: http://www.faa.gov/airports/resources/advisory_circulars/
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 47107(h), the Secretary of Transportation is 
required to provide notice and comment in the Federal Register and an 
opportunity for the public to comment upon proposals to modify the 
assurances or add new assurances.
    The purpose of this document is twofold: (1) To provide notice of 
the proposed modification of Grant Assurance No. 22 and to provide an 
opportunity to comment consistent with 49 U.S.C. 47107(h), and (2) to 
invite interested parties to review and comment on the draft 
``Parachute Landing Area Standards'' contained in Change 19 to the 
Airport Design Advisory Circular, AC 150/5300-13. The FAA interprets 49 
U.S.C. 47107(a)(1), and the corollary grant assurance No. 22, 
``Economic Nondiscrimination,'' to require airports obligated under AIP 
grants (which includes sponsors that are holders of Airport Operating 
Certificates issued under 14 CFR part 139) to comply with new PLA 
Standards set forth in Change 19 to AC 150/5300-13, ``Airport Design,'' 
which address hazards, PLA size and location, and recommended markings. 
The FAA proposes to use these standards; along with changes in its 
safety assessment review process, to provide a more consistent and 
objective examination of requests for parachute landing areas on 
federally obligated airports. The new standards and the updated review 
process will ensure that airport sponsors are able to implement new 
PLAs safely and efficiently. The PLA Standards will apply at the time 
airports enter into new grant agreements with the FAA subsequent to the 
effective date of Change 19 to AC No. 150/5300-13, ``Airport Design.''
    The FAA proposes to modify AIP Grant Assurance No. 22, ``Economic 
Nondiscrimination,'' to clarify that sponsor must comply with Parachute 
Landing Area (PLA) Standards set forth in Change 19 to AC 150/5300-13, 
``Airport Design,'' which address hazards, PLA size and location, and 
recommended markings. These standards are designed to provide a more 
consistent and objective examination of requests for parachute landing 
areas on federally obligated airports. The standards will ensure that 
sponsors are able to implement new PLAs safely and efficiently.
    Title 49 of the United States Code, section 47108(a), provides that 
the Secretary may impose terms on the offer of Federal funds for AIP 
funded airport development projects that the Secretary considers 
necessary. Uniform design standards for airports can be found in FAA 
advisory circulars and mandatory use is generally required on all AIP 
projects. In exchange for AIP grant funds, an airport sponsor is 
required by 49 U.S.C. 47107(a) to certify to the Secretary that it will 
comply with a number of Federal laws, policies, and grant assurances. 
Grant Assurance No. 22, ``Economic Nondiscrimination,'' requires an 
airport sponsor to ``make the airport available as an airport for 
public

[[Page 39447]]

use on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination to all types, 
kinds and classes of aeronautical activities, including commercial 
aeronautical activities offering services to the public at the 
airport.''
    Parachuting is an aeronautical activity. See AC-105.2D. For several 
years, airport sponsors, skydiving operators and airport users have 
expressed concerns to the FAA about the safety assessment process the 
FAA uses to evaluate parachute operations and the siting of Parachute 
Landing Areas on federally obligated airports. These concerns include 
the amount of time required from airport sponsors, skydiving operators, 
and the FAA to conduct safety assessments, and the resulting access 
delays that can occur for skydiving operators. The PLA standards and 
safety risk assessment procedures are an attempt to address these 
issues. With these standards, along with changes to the safety 
assessment review process, the FAA also seeks to gain greater national 
coordination and consistency in its safety assessments and to ensure 
that these standards are applied objectively and uniformly across the 
country. Some airport sponsors have cited reasons of safety and/or 
efficiency and have been generally reluctant to allow the establishment 
of on-airport parachute landing areas. Airport sponsors generally do 
not object to the takeoff and landing of aircraft that are used to 
transport skydivers, but argue that having the skydivers land on the 
airport property creates safety and/or efficiency concerns when 
combined with other aeronautical users.
    Change 19 of AC 150/5300-13, ``Airport Design,'' establishes new 
standards for on-airport PLAs, including size, location and recommended 
markings. The FAA proposes to use these standards; along with changes 
in its safety assessment review process, to provide a more consistent 
and objective examination of requests for parachute landing areas on 
federally obligated airports. This new standard, combined with the new 
request review process, will ensure that airport sponsors are able to 
implement new PLAs safely and efficiently.
    Reviewers will also have access, via the FAA listed web link above, 
to the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center Report entitled, 
``Development of Criteria for Parachute Landing Areas on Airports,'' as 
well as to a database report of accidents and incidents related to 
parachute operations from the Aviation System Information Analysis and 
Sharing (ASIAS) database.
    As required under 49 U.S.C. 47107(h), the FAA is providing notice 
that it interprets 49 U.S.C. 47107(a) (1), and the corollary grant 
assurance No. 22, ``Economic Nondiscrimination,'' to require airports 
that accept new AIP grants (which would include sponsors that are 
holders of Airport Operating Certificates issued under 14 CFR part 139) 
to comply with new PLA Standards set forth in Change 19 to AC 150/5300-
13, ``Airport Design.'' The new standards address hazards, PLA size and 
location, and recommended markings. In consideration of the above, the 
FAA proposes to modify the current version of Grant Assurance No.22, 
``Economic Nondiscrimination,'' to add new paragraph (j) to read as 
follows:
    C. Sponsor Certification. The sponsor hereby assures and certifies, 
with respect to this grant, that:

22. Economic Nondiscrimination

    j. It will comply with Parachute Landing Area (PLA) Standards 
set forth to 150-5300 series AC ``Airport Design,'' which addresses 
hazards, PLA size and location, and recommended markings.

    The PLA Standards will take effect at the time airports enter into 
new grant agreements with the FAA subsequent to the effective date of 
Change 19 to AC No. 150/5300-13, ``Airport Design.'' For an airport 
that has an existing parachute landing area, the airport will have 60 
months from the date it enters into the grant agreement to come into 
compliance with the new PLA standards. If an airport is not able to 
modify its existing parachute landing area to comply within this 
timeframe, the airport must provide the FAA with a plan prior to the 
end of the 60 months. This plan must be submitted to the local FAA 
Airports District Office or Regional Airports Office (where applicable) 
for approval, and must include a timetable describing how the airport 
will meet the PLA Standards within a timeframe acceptable to the 
Administrator. For other airports, the Standards are recommended.
    It should be noted that in Change 19, the FAA has modified 
paragraph 3, ``Application,'' to reflect that the standards in the 
Airport Design AC may be used by certificated airports as a means of 
satisfying specific requirements in subparts C and D of 14 CFR part 
139. This text was inadvertently removed from the prior version of the 
Airport Design AC. The next text reads,
    The standards and recommendations contained in this AC may be used 
by certificated airports to satisfy specific requirements of Federal 
Aviation Regulations (FAR) part 139, ``Certification of Airports,'' 
subparts C (Airport Certification Manual) and D (Operations).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 22, 2012.
Michael J. O'Donnell,
Director, Office of Airport Safety and Standards.
[FR Doc. 2012-15912 Filed 6-29-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P