Part 139 NPRM has significant implications for uncertified and uncontrolled aerodromes

Certification Proposals

Three new levels of mandatory certification of aerodromes will replace the existing Part 139 aerodrome certificate, which at present requires any aerodrome faciliating air passenger operations for more than 30 passenger seat aircraft to be certificated.

Under the new structure, Level 1 certification will apply to aerodromes faciliating international passenger operations.  Level 2 certification will apply to all aerodromes which facilititate scheduled air passenger operations for aircraft carrying more than 9 passengers. This will mean some presently uncertificated aerodromes that  faciliate regular air passenger operations for aircraft carrying between 10 to 30 passengers seats will need to become Level 2 certified.  Those that are voluntarily certified under the present rules, will also need to certify under Level 2, and affected aerodromes should be checking the proposed new rules to identify any material changes that might result from Level 2 certification requirements under the new regime.

Level 3 certification will apply to aerodromes with aircraft movements exceeding 40,000 per annum or 7,500 IFR movements per annum for three consecutive years. This at present would only apply to one aerodrome (Ardmore). 

ATS proposals

Perhaps of most significance in this proposal, many uncontrolled aerodromes (whether presently certificated or not) may be required to introduce an air traffic service, depending on the level of air traffic and/or IFR traffic movements within the preceding three years.  The lowest movement thresholds at which ATS will be triggered is the same as for Level 3 certification (refer above), which requires an Aerodrome Flight Information Service to be implemented.  Aerodromes with more than 100,000 aircraft movements per annum over three years could be required to implement a full air traffic control service.

The proposed rules also provide sweeping powers to the Director to require any aerodrome to undertake an aeronautical study, based on a wide range of criteria.

The combined effect of these changes could see some airports not only required to become Part 139 certificated, but to also introduce aerodrome flight information services, or even air traffic control services.  This will significantly increase the costs of operating these aerodromes, much of which is likely to be passed on to users of aerodromes.  This is likely to be very unpopular and in many cases, to generate strong debate and criticism as to the purported safety gains of these measures.  Airline operators will be prohibited from operating at an aerodrome that is required to have an ATS of some kind and does not comply.  It is possible that some aerodrome operators may be forced to close their aerodrome if they are unlikely to recover the increased compliance and operating costs these changes will bring.

The NPRM (draft rule) is open for submissions until 18 May 2012.

Click on the link below to read the April edition of The Legal Lounge, which provides more detail about the proposed changes and issues you may wish to consider making submissions on.

Visit the CAA website under "Rules Development" to view the full NPRM Part 139.

Proposed_Part_139_Rule_Update__aerodromes__-_how_it_may_affect_you.pdf (Size: 365.36 KB)

Posted: Wed 04 Apr 2012

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