[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 187 (Thursday, September 26, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 59226-59228]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23516]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 117

[Docket No. FAA-2013-0655]


Clarification of Implementation of Regulations and Exemption 
Policy With Regard to Early Implementation and Transition

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Clarification and Exemption Policy.

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SUMMARY: The FAA has issued a final flight, duty, and rest rule that 
will go into effect on January 4, 2014. This document provides an 
interpretation clarifying that the new flight, duty, and rest rule will 
apply to a flight duty period that begins on or after January 4, 2014. 
This document also clarifies FAA policy with regard to: exemption 
petitions asking for an early implementation date for the requirements 
of part 117; and exemption petitions asking for an early transition to 
the requirements of part 117.

DATES: Send exemption requests to the docket on or before October 15, 
2013.

ADDRESSES: Send exemption requests identified by docket number FAA-
2013-0655 using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for making your 
submission electronically.
     Mail: Send the exemption petition to Docket Operations, M-
30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-
0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Take the exemption petition 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 the exemption petition to Docket Operations at 
202-493-2251.
    Docket: Documents received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov at any time. 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 technical questions, contact Dale 
E. Roberts, Air Transportation Division, Flight Standards Service, 
Federal Aviation Administration; email dale.e.roberts@faa.gov. For 
legal questions, contact Alex Zektser, Office of the Chief Counsel, 
Regulations Division, Federal Aviation Administration; email 
alex.zektser@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On January 4, 2012, the FAA published a final rule entitled, 
``Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements.'' \1\ In that rule, the 
FAA created a new part, part 117, which generally contains new flight, 
duty, and rest regulations for part 121 passenger operations and 
certain part 91 operations. Part 117 will go into effect on January 4, 
2014.\2\
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    \1\ Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements Final Rule, 77 
FR 330 (Jan. 4, 2012).
    \2\ Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements; Technical 
Correction, 78 FR 11090 (Feb. 15, 2013).
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    Recently, the FAA received questions about the exact time at which 
part 117 will apply to a certificate holder's operations on or after 
January 4, 2014. The FAA also received a petition, submitted by 
Airlines for America (A4A) and the Regional Airline Association (RAA), 
asking for an industry-wide exemption to permit certificate-holder 
implementation of part 117 prior to January 4. In addition, 
representatives from American Airlines and A4A have met with FAA 
officials and requested that FAA consider allowing airlines to switch 
to part 117 in a phased approach over a multi-day period.
    This document responds to the concerns raised in the implementation 
questions, the A4A/RAA exemption petition, and the American Airlines/
A4A meeting. First, this document provides an interpretation clarifying 
at which point on or after January 4, 2014, a certificate holder must 
apply part 117 to its operations. Second, this document makes several 
findings with regard to exemption petitions from individual certificate 
holders asking for permission to implement part 117 prior to January 4. 
Third, this document clarifies FAA policy with regard to exemption 
petitions from individual certificate holders asking for a phased 
transition to the requirements of part 117. Fourth, this document 
provides some guidelines to individual certificate holders for 
submitting exemption petitions for early implementation and/or early 
transition to part 117.

Discussion

A. Applicability of Part 117 on January 4, 2014

    As stated above, part 117 will become effective on January 4, 
2014.\3\ The regulatory text of part 117 does not contain a grandfather 
clause that would exempt operations that commence prior to January 4. 
Thus, part 117 could be interpreted as immediately applying to all part 
121 passenger operations taking place at midnight on January 4.
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    \3\ Id.
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    However, such an interpretation would take a narrow view regarding 
how part 121 passenger operations are to transition to the new part 117 
requirements. This is because Sec.  117.25 requires that a flightcrew 
member be provided with a 10-hour rest period that includes an 8-hour 
sleep opportunity immediately prior to beginning a flight duty period 
(FDP) under part 117. If part 117 was to become immediately applicable 
on midnight January 4, flightcrew members conducting part 121 passenger 
operations at that time would be confronted with the requirements of 
Sec.  117.25 in the middle of their duty day.
    To avoid this scenario, the FAA clarifies the implementation of 
part 117 as follows. A flightcrew member who begins a duty day under 
part 121 prior to January 4, 2014 is allowed to complete that duty day 
on January 4 under the flight, duty, and rest rules in effect at the 
time that the duty day commenced. However, once the duty day ends and 
the flightcrew member is released to begin a rest period, that 
flightcrew member is then subject to the provisions of part 117.
    We note that there are some provisions in the flight, duty, and 
rest regulations of part 121 that, in certain situations, require an 
extended rest period after a duty day ends.\4\ Accordingly, we 
emphasize that the rest period received by a flightcrew member 
switching from part 121 flight, duty, and rest rules to part 117 must 
comply with both Sec.  117.25 and the pertinent flight, duty, and rest 
rules of part 121.\5\
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    \4\ See, e.g., 14 CFR 121.503(b) (requiring a 16-hour rest 
period if a pilot has flown for more than eight hours in a 24-
consecutive-hour period).
    \5\ We note, however, that the regulations do not require that 
the rest period provided under Sec.  117.25 be kept separate from 
the rest period provided under Subparts Q, R, and S of part 121. A 
single rest period would be sufficient if it satisfies all of the 
pertinent flight, duty, and rest requirements. For example, a 16-
hour rest period with an 8-hour sleep opportunity would satisfy both 
Sec.  117.25(e) and Sec.  121.503(b).

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[[Page 59227]]

B. FAA Findings With Regard to Exemption Petitions Asking for Early 
Implementation

    The A4A and RAA exemption petition asks the FAA to provide an 
exemption to A4A and RAA members and all similarly situated air 
carriers that would allow those carriers to implement part 117 early 
(between December 9, 2013 and January 4, 2014). In lieu of granting A4A 
and RAA's exemption petition, the FAA makes the following findings with 
regard to individual certificate holder exemption petitions asking for 
an early implementation of part 117.
    In order to grant an exemption, the FAA must find that granting the 
exemption: (1) would not have an adverse effect on safety; and (2) 
would be in the public interest.\6\ As discussed below, we find that 
granting an individual certificate holder's exemption petition asking 
for early implementation of part 117 would not have an adverse effect 
on safety and would be in the public interest. We also find that these 
individual certificate holder exemption petitions do not need to be 
published in the Federal Register.
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    \6\ See 14 CFR 11.81(d) and (e).
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1. No Adverse Effect on Safety
    We note that, as A4A and RAA's petition points out, the regulatory 
standards in part 117 contain the latest fatigue-related safety 
standard promulgated by the FAA. Because granting an exemption petition 
asking for early implementation of part 117 would result in a 
certificate holder voluntarily switching sooner to this latest safety 
standard, we find that early implementation of part 117 in a 
certificate holder's operations would not adversely affect safety.
2. Public Interest
    With regard to public interest, A4A and RAA's petition points out 
that allowing carriers to implement part 117 on different days will 
reduce the system vulnerability caused by an entire industry switching 
crew planning software and algorithms on the same day. The petition 
also states that switching to part 117 prior to January 4 will allow 
carriers to make the switch prior to the heaviest holiday travel days. 
We agree with these points and accordingly find that granting an 
individual exemption for early implementation of part 117 would be in 
the public interest.
3. Public Comment on Individual Exemption Petitions
    The FAA generally publishes a summary of an exemption petition in 
the Federal Register and invites public comment on the petition.\7\ 
However, in certain circumstances, the FAA does not seek public comment 
on a petition for an exemption. One of those circumstances is present 
when delaying action on the petition would result in an adverse 
effect.\8\
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    \7\ See 14 CFR 11.85.
    \8\ Sec.  11.87(c).
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    In this case, the individual petitions for exemption would deal 
with a final rule that will go into effect on January 4, and those 
petitions will seek to implement the rule prior to January 4. Because 
this implementation is close and because there are multiple significant 
tasks that must be done in order to prepare for the implementation, we 
find that delaying action on an individual petition requesting an 
exemption to implement part 117 early would result in an adverse 
effect. Thus, individual exemption petitions asking for early 
implementation of part 117 do not need to be published for notice and 
comment in the Federal Register.

C. FAA Policy With Regard to Exemption Requests Asking for Early 
Transition

    We note that under both the clarification and early-implementation 
exemption discussed above, a certificate holder would have to 
essentially switch all of its affected operations to part 117 in about 
a 24-hour period. If an individual certificate holder chooses to obtain 
an early-implementation exemption, that certificate holder will still 
have to switch its operations in the manner discussed in Section A 
above; the date of the switch will simply be different.
    However, as American Airlines and A4A pointed out, some certificate 
holders plan their schedules in multi-day blocks, and switching their 
affected operations in 24-hour period could be burdensome. To address 
this concern, the FAA will consider individual certificate-holder 
petitions asking for an exemption to conduct a phased early transition 
to part 117.
    Part 117 early-transition exemptions will work as follows. A 
certificate holder will establish an early-transition date. During the 
time between the transition and implementation dates, the certificate 
holder will be permitted to switch individual flightcrew members to 
operate under part 117 without having to switch all of its operations 
and flightcrew members into part 117. Under this exemption, once a 
flightcrew member has been switched to part 117, that flightcrew member 
would not be permitted to switch back to the part 121 flight, duty, and 
rest rules during the transition period.
    The FAA believes that this approach may benefit some certificate 
holders, as it would permit them to conduct a phased switch of their 
operations to part 117 over the course of a longer period of time 
instead of switching all affected operations in a single day. As such, 
the FAA finds, for the reasons stated in the previous section, that 
granting individual exemption petitions asking for an early transition 
period would: (1) Not adversely affect safety; (2) be in the public 
interest; and (3) not need to be published for notice and comment in 
the Federal Register because delaying action on the petition would 
result in an adverse effect.

D. Guidelines for Submission of Exemption Petitions

    We note that the FAA is currently undergoing an internal transition 
to administering and overseeing part 117. As such, an exemption 
petition asking to implement or transition to part 117 earlier than 
December 1, 2013, will be denied, as the FAA may not have completed its 
internal transition prior to December 1.
    Exemption petitions asking for early transition and/or early 
implementation of part 117 should be submitted to Docket No. FAA-2013-
0655. The FAA will respond to all individual certificate holder 
exemption petitions asking for early implementation and/or early 
transition to part 117 prior to the date that the carrier wishes to 
begin using the exemption if the exemption request is received in 
Docket No. FAA-2013-0655 on or before October 15, 2013. The FAA will 
consider exemption petitions filed after October 15, but due to 
workload, a carrier submitting an exemption petition after October 15, 
2013, may not get an FAA response to its petition within the desired 
timeframe. In addition, we ask that an exemption petition: (1) specify 
whether the petition is seeking early implementation of part 117, an 
early transition to part 117, or both; and (2) specify the dates for 
early implementation and/or early transition to part 117.


[[Page 59228]]


    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 19, 2013.
Mark W. Bury,
Acting Assistant Chief Counsel for International Law, Legislation and 
Regulations.
John S. Duncan,
Director, Flight Standards Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-23516 Filed 9-24-13; 11:15 am]
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