VII. DISCUSSION OF COMMENTS RELATED TO COSTS AND BENEFITS
This section of the preamble discusses those costs and benefits
related comments submitted to the docket for the NPRM. The comments
are presented by topic within their respective areas of concern.
Flight Time Limitations. A commuter operator from Alaska voiced
its concerns about the potential high cost ($502,000) of compliance
associated with the proposed requirement for flight time limitations.
According to this operator, compliance with the proposed rule would
require hiring an estimated 15 to 75 percent more pilots, depending on
the location of its operations in Alaska. Also, there would also be
additional costs incurred for training.
FAA Response: The FAA is holding in abeyance a decision
concerning flight time limitations because of a new proposal that, if
adopted, would overhaul all of the flight and duty rules.
Dispatchers. There were a number of comments submitted on the
establishment of a dispatcher system. However, none of the comments
were directly related to costs. Among those comments related to
costs, the primary concern pertained to the idea that there would be
significant costs incurred by operators in remote areas (i.e., most of
Alaska) or those operators with a small number of airplanes (fewer
FAA Response: There are four points to make in reference to the
comments. First, the commenters failed to provide any specific cost
information to substantiate their claims of incurring significantly
high compliance costs for establishing a dispatch system. Second, it
is the FAA's position that nearly all part 135 commuters already have
the basic communication equipment needed for a dispatch system because
they already have flight locators and flight followers conducting some
degree of operational control. Third, even in remote areas carriers
have access to contracted communications systems. Fourth, in regard
to the personnel costs associated with the dispatch system, these
operators are expected to upgrade most of their existing flight
locators and flight followers to be dispatchers, at an hourly wage
increase of $1.60 (or $4,193 annually). Some dispatchers will be
hired outside of the company at an annual wage of $24,000. This
position is based on information obtained from the Aircraft
Dispatchers Federation (ADF) and a survey of several part 135
operators with dual operations specifications (parts 121 and 135).
The FAA estimates a cost of $13,000 as the average minimum annual
operating cost of establishing a dispatch system (assuming nothing is
in place by a particular operator). This includes costs for telephone
service, office space, office furniture, access to a current weather
service, and access to air-ground communications.
Pilot Qualifications. Several commenters are opposed to the
proposed requirements for pilot qualifications on the basis of an
anticipated high cost of compliance.
FAA Response: The final rule does not contain requirements for
crewmember training and pilot qualifications. These requirements are
contained in a separate rulemaking action that pertains to operators
under parts 121 and 135.
Cockpit Protective Breathing Equipment (PBE). One airplane
manufacturer questions the need for fire-fighting PBE on the flight
deck of commuter airplanes with 10 to 19 passenger seats. The
commenter asserts that it would cost an additional $23,800 dollars
(rather than the FAA's cost estimate of $400 per PBE unit) to equip
each one of its 10-to-19-seat airplanes with such PBE on the flight
deck. This cost estimate does not include a one-time $52,000 for
development costs. According to the commenter, its airplanes are
already equipped with fixed smoke-and-flame protection PBE at each of
the two pilot stations. Thus, the only potential cost would be for a
fire-fighting PBE on the flight deck.
FAA Response: The FAA has decided to drop the proposed
requirement for fire-fighting PBE on the flight deck of affected
airplanes with 10 to 19 seats.
Costs of Compliance - All Items. According to one commenter, the
FAA's analysis grossly underestimated costs. The cost of the proposed
rule should be $1.6 billion instead of the FAA's estimate of $275
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with the commenter. The FAA
contacted the commenter to acquire information on the methodology and
basic assumptions or rationale used to derive the cost estimate. With
regards to the methodology, the commenter indicated that he used his
own judgment and information provided by other commenters. None of
his analysis was supported empirically by outside sources or seemed to
be more credible than that used by the FAA. As to the basic
assumptions, the commenter said there was no documentation that
detailed the methodology used to derive his cost estimate of $1.6
billion. Therefore, since the commenter was unable to substantiate
the cost estimate, the FAA will retain its cost estimate and all
2. CABIN SAFETY
First Aid and Medical Kits. Several commenters provided cost
estimates ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 per airplane for the first aid
and medical kit requirement, but these cost estimates were submitted
without any detailed documentation. An additional commenter, who was
contacted, agrees with the cost per first aid kit, but argues that the
turnover rate should be 100% a year due to pilfering.
FAA Response: The cost estimates provided by the commenters are
higher than the FAA's original estimates. The FAA based the
equipment costs on off-the-shelf prices that would be available to all
operators. The FAA contacted one commenter that estimates the cost of
$1,500 per airplane for a first aid kit. The commenter's cost
estimate includes up front costs such as the engineering designs,
administrative paperwork, cost of tooling, as well as the cost of
equipment and materials. The FAA assumes that the first aid kits, as
well as medical kits, can be secured with Velcro tape and would be
secure enough to meet the 18-G requirement. As to design and
administrative costs involved with securing first aid and medical
kits, the FAA is using the up-front costs of $1,500 submitted by the
commenter's. With regards to pilferage, none of the large airlines
complain about first aid kits being stolen, and the FAA believes that
if any kits are stolen, air carriers would take positive steps to stop
Locking Cockpit Door and Key. Several commenters are concerned
that some locking cockpit doors would have to be retrofitted to work
with a key, but cost estimates are not provided.
FAA Response: The FAA acknowledges that the commenters correctly
state that keyless locks on affected lockable cockpit doors would have
to be retrofitted to work with keys. Based on information from FAA
technical personnel, the FAA is assuming that all of the 20-to-30-seat
airplanes would have their locks or doors retrofitted, at a total cost
of $182 per retrofit ($100 equipment + $82 labor).
Flotation Cushions and Life Vests. One commenter opposes the
requirement because of the equipment cost and weight penalty. This
commenter states that the seat cushions in the METRO airplane would
not serve as effective floatation devices. In addition, this
commenter provides a cost estimate for acquiring and retrofitting
individual floatation devices for METRO airplanes.
FAA Response: The FAA concurs that if the seat cushions in a
particular airplane model do not serve as floatation devices, then
individual floatation devices would have to be acquired. Also, the
FAA verified the commenter's cost estimate and has incorporated it
into the regulatory evaluation for the final rule.
Halon Fire Extinguishers. One commenter from Alaska provides an
aggregate cost estimate for the required halon fire extinguishers
which was substantially higher than the estimate in the NPRM. The
commenter does not provide additional commentary on the requirement
beyond the costs.
FAA Response: The FAA partially disagrees with this commenter.
A one-time cost estimate to account for up-front administrative and
engineering costs to comply with Type Data Certificates was submitted
by the commenter. The FAA verified this cost-estimate and has
incorporated it into the cost of the final rule. However, the FAA
contends that there would be no major retrofit costs because the halon
fire extinguishers would replace existing fire extinguishers with the
same size canister. The FAA's equipment costs were based on off-the-
shelf prices for halon which would be available to all operators.
Carry-on Baggage. A commenter from Alaska believes that the
FAA's cost estimate for the carry-on baggage screening program
implementation is too low. This commenter reasons that the wage rates
and paperwork burden would be higher for the Alaska air carriers. In
addition, the commenter strongly objects to applying the scanning
program at locations that do not have terminal facilities. This
commenter believes that each operator will need to develop a
measurement device to check each item of carry-on baggage which will
result in delays. All of this will cost $156,000 per year for each
Alaskan commuter air carrier; there is no detailed explanation of what
this entails. Another commenter, who was contacted, believes that for
crewmembers to enforce the carry-on baggage program will delay each
flight one minute; this flight delay will need to be costed out.
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with these commenters. The FAA
is unable to evaluate the Alaska commenter's cost estimate without a
detailed explanation of the cost breakdown. However, it is important
to note that the wage rate and the paperwork hours assumed in the NPRM
were national averages, so these numbers could be higher in some parts
of the country, like Alaska, and lower in others. In addition, no
carrier would be required to have a measuring device to carry out this
program; the baggage screening program is visual in nature, and the
requirements and costs involved only refer to preparing baggage
screening procedures for the carrier's operations manual and an
addendum to the Operations Specifications. Finally, the FAA does not
believe that there would be delays on any flights due to such a
program as crewmembers would be "eye balling" carry-on baggage as
passenger are boarding at the same speed they have always boarded.
Flight Attendants at the Gate. A commenter believes that all
operators would only use trained, authorized, substitute personnel
when coverage is needed. This commenter believes that these trained
persons would all be new hires and paid annual salaries of $12,000.
One commenter from Alaska opposes the requirement for flight
attendants at the gate. The commenter states that both crewmembers on
the 10-to-19 seat airplanes would need to assist in the loading and
unloading process, and hence neither could stay on board with
passengers. Furthermore, the commenter states that deplaning
passengers would not be a viable option because airports in Alaska do
not have the proper facilities. Therefore, the commenter states that
a trained substitute would have to stay on board the airplane with the
passengers 100% of the time. The commenter states that the FAA has
also underestimated the training costs and wage costs so that this
requirement would cost about $2.9 million each year for all of the
Alaska commuter air carriers to comply.
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with these commenters. The
authorized personnel would need to be trained, reliable, and have a
low turnover rate; an annual salary of $12,000 would not be high
enough to attract such people. These airplanes typically fly only
during the summer months so passengers can be deplaned. The FAA
contends that one of the crewmembers can stay on board the airplane
some of the time; loading and unloading responsibilities can often
times be accomplished with one crewmember. The final rule has been
changed to allow a crewmember to stay on or in close proximity to the
airplane to comply with this requirement. The FAA does not believe it
is likely that air carriers in Alaska would have trained substitute
personnel waiting at each intermediate stop. Accordingly, the FAA
believes that Alaskan air carriers would either deplane passengers or
use a crewmember.
Passenger Information. One commenter from Alaska disagrees with
the FAA's cost estimate for passenger information cards and believes
that it is too low. Alaskan air carriers would need to devise a more
comprehensive information system due to the many nationalities and
native languages in Alaska and this would entail great expense. Some
air carriers would also have to translate into Japanese, Korean, and
Russian for tourists from the Pacific Rim nations. The commenter also
thought that the FAA's assumption of a three year life expectancy for
information cards was too high. Based on experience, the commenter
states that information cards last less than a year due to wear and
theft. The commenter also estimates costs of $26,000 for Alaskan
commuter air carriers in the first year and $4,224 each year
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with this commenter and believes
that the commenter misunderstood the requirements of this proposed
section. There is no current or proposed requirement to translate any
passenger information cards into any other language. In addition, the
industry average for passenger information cards is three years, so
the FAA will use the NPRM costs.
Performance Criteria . Of seven comments received, only one
manufacturer provided cost information. This manufacturer reports
that, for their part 23 commuter category certificated airplanes,
there would be no compliance costs. However, for their SFAR 41C
certificated airplanes, developing the data needed to comply with the
part 121 requirements for obstacle clearance and for accelerate-stop
would be $3,000 per airplane for obstacle clearance and $2,500 per
airplane for accelerate stop. For their pre-SFAR 41C airplanes, it
would be $63,000 per airplane to develop performance data for obstacle
clearance and $145,000 per airplane to develop anti-skid data, to
purchase and install anti-skid systems, and to incur the 35 lb. weight
penalty for accelerate-stop.
FAA Response: In the Notice, the FAA stated that all part 135
scheduled airplanes would be able to meet these performance criteria
and that the only cost would be a $5,000 per type certificate to
provide the data and obtain FAA approval for inclusion into the
airplane flight manual. After additional review, however, the FAA
realizes that SFAR 41 and predecessor category airplanes will be
unable to meet all of the part 121 performance criteria without having
to offload so many passengers or cargo as to become unprofitable to
operate in scheduled passenger service. If operators substitute
airplanes configured with 9 or fewer passenger seats for these
airplanes, there could be a substantial economic loss and potential
safety reduction. Thus, the FAA will allow the operators of these
airplanes to have 15 years to meet the part 121 performance
requirements. This will allow operators sufficient time to plan for
the replacement of these airplanes without incurring an enormous
economic loss. It also will allow manufacturers time to develop
better substitutes for these airplanes.
Engine-Out-En-Route-Net-Flight Data. There were three commenters
on this issue. One manufacturer commenter reports a one-time cost of
$24,774 to create the required one-engine-inoperative-en-route-net-
flight-path data which do not exist for any 10-to-19-seat airplanes.
Another commenter reports that these flight data are not included in
the FAA approved airplane flight manual.
FAA Response: The FAA concurs with these commenters and has
adopted the commenter's cost estimate.
Cargo Compartment Smoke Detector and Fire Extinguishing Systems
and Cargo Compartment Liners. Two commenters report a per-airplane
cost of $15,230 to $15,580 to install smoke detectors and fire
extinguishers in the cargo compartments of newly-manufactured 10-to-
19-seat airplanes. The commenter also reports a per-airplane-
retrofitting cost of $17,420; a one-time cost of $85,400 for
engineering, designing, testing, and paperwork for FAA approval; and
32 lbs. of added weight to each airplane. The commenter also reports
a per-airplane cost for cargo and baggage compartment liners of
$13,000 for a retrofit; $10,420 for a newly-manufactured airplane; a
$463,950 cost for a one-time engineering, designing, testing, and
paperwork to obtain FAA approval cost; and 9 lbs. of additional
weight. Another commenter reports a per airplane cost of $26,400 and
a weight of 15 lbs. This commenter also notes that the NPRM did not
propose any retrofitting.
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with the commenter. The FAA
proposal would only apply to newly-manufactured airplanes beginning
four years after the effective date. Thus, there would be no retrofit
costs. (After additional analysis, the FAA has decided that this
topic needs to be specifically addressed in a separate rulemaking.
Thus, there would be no compliance costs for this in the commuter
Landing Gear Aural Warning. Two manufacturers and one operator
report that all of their 10-to-19-seat airplanes have aural landing
gear warnings. Two of these commenters report no compliance cost.
The other commenter reports a one-time manufacturer's cost of $2,620
to obtain FAA approval of the flight-manual changes.
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with the commenter who reported a
one-time cost because the presence of the aural warning device in
existing airplanes means that this equipment was already included and
approved in the airplane flight manual. As the FAA believes that all
affected airplanes already employ an aural warning system, there are
no compliance costs.
Ditching Approval. There were five commenters who addressed this
issue. One commenter reports a $7,430 cost for its DeHavilland Twin
Otters to comply with this provision. Another commenter reports that
it would be impossible for the Twin Otter to comply with the ditching
requirement due to its fixed landing gear; also the commenter says
that other airplane operators would incur a $180 per airplane
paperwork cost to demonstrate compliance. Another commenter reports
that the costs would be extremely high. Two commenters report that
there would be a $1,500 one-time paperwork cost to demonstrate
compliance to the FAA for revision of the approved flight manual.
FAA Response: The FAA agrees with the commenters. For the final
rule, the compliance period will be extended to 15 years. Thus, the
potential cost of compliance will be minimal.
Take-Off Warning System. One manufacturer reports that the per
airplane cost to install take-off warning devices would be $24,920 on
a newly-manufactured airplane; $26,500 for a retrofit; and $150,260
for a one-time engineering, development, testing, and FAA-approval
cost. Also, these devices would weigh 5 lbs. Another commenter
reports that it would cost $12,600 per airplane to install a 2 lb.
take-off warning device on a newly manufactured airplane. One
commenter reports that it would cost $11,350 per airplane to install a
take-off warning device on a newly manufactured airplane.
FAA Response: The FAA estimates that the per airplane cost for a
newly manufactured airplane would be $16,000 for engineering,
developing, testing, and installing, plus an annual $1,600 inspection,
maintenance, and repair cost. The FAA also did not estimate any
additional weight for this device. However, after further technical
review, the FAA concludes that none of these airplane models (except
the Beech 99) would need a takeoff warning system because a takeoff
with a device in the most adverse position does not create a hazardous
condition. For the Beech 99, that problem was resolved when the FAA
issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) requiring these airplanes to
install a takeoff warning system. Thus, there are no compliance costs
associated with this requirement.
Third-Attitude Indicator. Two commenters report that there would
be no compliance cost for newly-manufactured airplanes because third
attitude indicators are standard equipment. One of these commenters
reports that there would be a $1,500 one-time manufacturer's paperwork
cost to obtain FAA approval to changes in the flight manual. The same
commenter reports that it would cost $10,865 to retrofit an airplane.
The other commenter reports that the per-airplane-retrofit cost would
be between $40,600 for a Beech 1900C and $48,800 for a Beech 99, and
that a third-attitude indicator would weigh 15 lbs. An airplane
operator reports that it would cost $40,000 per airplane to retrofit
its Beech 1900Cs. Another airplane operator reports that it would
cost $17,000 per airplane to retrofit its DeHavilland Twin Otters.
Finally, a commenter reports that it would cost $53,170 per airplane
to retrofit airplanes. In addition to the reported costs, the
commenter states that there was insufficient time for operators to
retrofit these airplanes within the one-year period proposed by the
FAA Response: The FAA estimates that the per airplane cost would
be $16,000 for a retrofit and $8,000 for a newly-manufactured
airplane. The annual maintenance, inspection, and repair costs would
be 10 percent of the retrofitting costs. The third-attitude indicator
and wiring would weigh 5 lbs. Based on the manufacturer information,
this device has been installed on all turbo-jet and commuter category
The FAA contends that its cost estimates in the NPRM are valid.
However, the FAA accepts the comment that the additional weight would
be 15 lbs. After additional analysis, and in light of the potential
high-costs of this proposal, the FAA believes that this requirement
should be handled consistently with the principle espoused in the
performance requirements. On that basis, the final rule will have a
15-year retrofit compliance period for affected 10-19 seat airplanes.
Lavatory Fire Protection. Concerning 10-to-19 seat airplanes,
two manufacturer commenters state that very few of their airplanes had
lavatories. For those few that do, one manufacturer reports that
installing a lavatory smoke detector and a built-in automatic fire
extinguisher in each lavatory-waste receptacle would cost $59,200 per
retrofit, $8,800 for a newly manufactured airplane, and would weigh 10
lbs. The other commenter reports it would cost $8,350 for a retrofit,
$7,800 for a newly-manufactured airplane, involve a one-time
engineering cost of $49,000, and would increase each airplane's weight
by 16 lbs. Another commenter reports that a retrofit would cost $725.
Concerning 20-to-30-seat airplanes, two manufacturer commenters
report that it would cost $4,000 to retrofit their airplane
lavatories. One of these commenters also states that only one half of
the newly manufactured airplanes with lavatories have these devices.
Two airlines and one association report that it would cost $2,500 to
retrofit their airplane lavatories. One of the airlines reports that
these devices would weigh 20 lbs.
FAA Response: Section 121.308(a) requires each lavatory to have
a smoke detector system connected to either: (1) a warning light in
the flight deck; or (2) a warning light or an aural warning in the
passenger cabin that can be readily detected by a flight attendant.
Section 121.308(b) requires each lavatory to have a built-in automatic
fire extinguisher in each waste-disposal receptacle in the lavatory.
These requirements are also found in section 25.854 but only for
airplanes type certificated after 1991. There are no similar
provisions in part 135 or part 23.
In reviewing these comments for the 20-to-30-seat airplanes, the
FAA believes, although these commenters did not document the sources
for their estimates, that these estimates appear to be based on the
cost of a flight deck warning light system, which would involve some
airplane rewiring. However, the FAA's estimate is based on the
operator electing the second option allowed in the proposed rule - an
aural warning device that could be heard by the flight attendant.
That option is clearly the cost-effective option for 20-to-30-seat
airplanes that are required to have a flight attendant.
These provisions are largely unimportant for the 10-to-19-seat
airplanes because very few have a lavatory. In fact, one manufacturer
reported that none of their airplanes operating in the U.S. has one.
The FAA believes that the reported costs for these individual
airplanes are so large because any costs to engineer, design, and test
would be distributed over so few airplanes. However, for those few
10-to-19-seat airplanes that do have a lavatory, the FAA changed this
rule to allow an aural warning system that can be heard by the flight
crew. On that basis, the FAA determined that it would cost about $175
to retrofit or to install in a newly manufactured airplane a 5 lb.
aural smoke detector that requires $50 a year in maintenance and
inspection and $15 a year for replacement batteries. The FAA also
determined that it would cost $300 to retrofit a 5 lb. receptacle
automatic fire extinguisher that requires $75 a year in maintenance
and inspection and $50 a year for recharging. These costs are $50 a
year more than the costs estimated in the NPRM.
The FAA also estimates that half of the 272 existing 20-to-30-
seat airplanes certificated before 1991 did not have these devices
whereas 90 percent of the newly-manufactured airplanes have them. The
FAA accepts the commenter's statement that only half of these newly-
manufactured airplanes have these devices.
Emergency Exit Marking. One manufacturer reports that installing
an emergency exit marking light would cost $11,050 for a retrofit,
$9,100 for a newly manufactured airplane, and would involve a one-time
manufacturing cost of $87,280 to engineer, design, test, and obtain
FAA approval for this device.
FAA Response: The cost of this provision was a part of the FAA's
estimated emergency lighting cost. After additional analysis, the FAA
believes that given the passenger's close proximity to emergency exits
and the high cost of complying with the lighting requirements,
affected airplanes will not be required to comply with certain
lighting provisions in 121.310.
Floor Proximity Lighting. One manufacturer commenter reports
that installing emergency floor proximity lighting would cost between
$27,600 and $36,000 for a retrofit, $20,800 for a newly manufactured
airplane, and the installed lighting would weigh 12 lbs. A second
manufacturer commenter reports that it would cost $19,000 for a
retrofit; $15,000 for a newly manufactured airplane; there would be a
one-time engineering, developing, testing, and obtaining FAA approval
cost of $52,650, and the installed lighting would weigh 10 lbs. This
commenter also proposes an alternative interior lighting of the exit
and exterior emergency exit lighting as a substitute for the full-
scale floor proximity and exterior emergency exit lighting in the
NPRM. This alternative lighting system is required for their
airplanes in Great Britain. But this commenter did not report the
cost of their proposed alternative. A third manufacturer commenter
reports that it would cost $8,000 for a retrofit. One air carrier
commenter reports that it would cost about $17,700 to retrofit its
DeHavilland Twin Otters. Another air carrier commenter reports that
it would cost $26,800 to retrofit its Beech 1900Cs and $22,800 to
retrofit its Jetstream 31s and Beech 1900Ds. One association reports
that it would cost between $20,000 and $50,000 for a retrofit. A
second association reports it would cost $11,000 for a retrofit. A
third association reports it would cost $19,000 for a retrofit.
Finally, an aviation consultant group reports it would cost $8,000 for
FAA Response: The FAA estimates that the cost to comply with the
emergency lighting requirements in 121.310 would be $2,500 to retrofit
existing airplanes and $2,000 to install in newly-manufactured
airplanes. After additional analysis, the FAA agrees with these
commenters that the earlier FAA costs severely underestimated the
retrofitting and new installation costs. As a result, the FAA
determines that 10-to-19-seat airplanes would not be required to meet
these lighting requirements in 121.310.
Emergency Exit Exterior Lighting . One manufacturer commenter
reports that the per airplane cost would be $13,400 to install a 15
lb. emergency exit exterior lighting system on a newly manufactured
airplane and $17,950 for a retrofit. In addition, they report a one-
time engineering, design, testing, and paperwork for FAA approval cost
of $64,525. However, as noted in the previous section, their
suggested alternative to floor proximity lighting would also contain
an exterior emergency lighting capability. Another manufacturer
commenter reports that the per airplane cost would be $11,800 to
install a 12 lb. emergency exit exterior lighting system on a newly
manufactured airplane and $17,250 to $23,550 for a retrofit. One air
carrier reports that it would cost $9,400 per airplane to retrofit its
DeHavilland Twin Otters. Another air carrier reports that it would
cost $16,640 to retrofit its Beech 1990Cs, 1900Ds, and its Jetstream
FAA Response: The FAA provided one aggregated cost estimate for
the emergency lighting system. However, as that total cost estimate
for all lighting required by Section 121.310 was $2,500, the FAA
reevaluated its exterior-lighting-cost estimate. After additional
analysis, the FAA agrees with these commenters that the earlier FAA
costs severely underestimated the retrofitting and new installation
costs. As a result, the FAA determines that 10-to-19-seat airplanes
would not be required to meet these lighting requirements in 121.310.
Exterior Emergency Exit Marking. One manufacturer commenter
reports that it would cost between $350 and $650 for an airplane
operator to install these markings on the exterior of the emergency
exits. One association commenter reports that it would cost $74 to
install these markings. Neither commenter discusses the number of
airplanes that would need to have these markings installed.
FAA Response: The FAA estimated that about 10 percent of the 10-
to-19-seat airplanes would need to comply with this requirement at a
cost of $100 per airplane. However, the FAA notes that this section
is identical to Section 135.178(g). As a result, there are no
Pilot Shoulder Harnesses. One manufacturer commenter reports
that even though all of their airplanes are now manufactured with the
single point pilot shoulder harness, they would still incur a $22,500
one-time cost - presumably to obtain FAA approval for inclusion in the
flight manual. One association commenter reports that it would cost
$440 to retrofit a single point shoulder harness.
FAA Response: The FAA did not estimate any cost for this
provision because the proposal did not require retrofitting and the
FAA was informed by industry that the single point inertial harness
for pilots is standard equipment on all currently-manufactured
airplanes. Thus, the FAA determines that there is no compliance cost.
The FAA disagrees with the commenter who reported a one-time
manufacturer's cost because this equipment is already in airplanes
and, hence, approved in the airplane flight manual.
Interior Panel Heat and Smoke Release Standards. There were two
commenters on this issue. One manufacturer commenter reports that the
per airplane cost for requiring the more stringent fireproofing
material for cabin interiors would be $77,550 for a retrofit, $67,500
for a new installation, and there would be a one-time engineering,
designing, testing, retooling, and obtaining FAA approval cost of
$627,910. Another manufacturer commenter reports that it would cost
$90,000 per airplane to install in a newly manufactured airplane and
also notes that the Notice did not propose a retrofit. It should be
noted that the commenter's methodology averages any one-time
engineering and development costs into the expected number of future
sales of the Beech 1900D.
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with the commenters.
Manufacturers would only have to comply with the existing type-
certification standard. Therefore, there would be no compliance cost.
Passenger Seat Cushion Flammability. There were eight commenters
on this issue. One manufacturer commenter reports that the per
airplane cost would be $11,250 to retrofit one of its airplanes with
fire-blocked-seat cushions; $10,250 per airplane to install in a newly
manufactured airplane; there would be a one-time engineering, design,
testing, and FAA-approval costs of $85,415; and it would add 20 lbs.
A second manufacturer commenter reports that the per airplane cost
would be between $20,000 and $22,600 for a retrofit; $3,400 in newly
manufactured airplanes; and would weigh 38 lbs. One air carrier
reports that the per airplane cost would be $12,600 to retrofit its
Beech 1900Cs and $4,000 to retrofit its Beech 1900Ds and Jetstream
31s. Another air carrier reports that the per airplane cost would be
$35,000 to retrofit its DeHavilland Twin Otters. Another air carrier
reports that the per airplane cost would be $20,000 to retrofit its
fleet. Three associations report that the per airplane retrofitting
costs would range from $20,000, $42,950, and $50,000.
FAA Response: The FAA estimated that the per-airplane-incremental
cost would be $20,000 to retrofit fire-blocked-seat cushions, $5,000
to install these seat cushions on newly-manufactured airplanes, and
$10,000 to replace these seat cushions on airplanes that have fire-
blocked-seat cushions. An additional cost would be the 38 lbs. of
weight these seats add to the airplane. The FAA acknowledges the fact
that different airplanes would have different retrofitting and new
After additional analysis, the FAA accepts the manufacturer
commenters' cost estimates for their airplanes as well as accepts the
air carrier estimates provided for the DeHavilland Twin Otter and the
Jetstream 31. For the other types of airplanes that would need to be
retrofitted, the FAA uses an average of these reported retrofitting
costs weighted by the number of each type of this airplane still in
service. The FAA also accepts the commenters weight estimates for
each of their own airplanes. After additional analysis, the FAA finds
that, for the final rule, a 15-year compliance period is appropriate
for 10-to-19-seat airplanes.
"Fasten Seat Belt" Lighted Sign . There were two commenters on
this issue. One manufacturer reports that installing a fasten seat
belt light would cost between $3,025 and $4,000 for a retrofit and
$1,600 for a newly manufactured airplane. One association reports
that it would cost $11,000 per airplane.
FAA Response: The FAA had not estimated any compliance costs for
section 121.317(b) because it was believed that commuter airplanes had
these signs. However, after additional analysis, the FAA determines
that a placard and a pre-flight briefing provide an equivalent level
of safety to a lighted sign. As these are industry practices, there
is no compliance cost.
Wing Ice Light . There were two comments on this issue. One
manufacturer reports that there would be no compliance costs for any
of their airplanes. One association reports that it would cost
$11,000 to install wing ice lights on its members' airplanes.
FAA Response: In the Notice, the FAA did not estimate any costs
for this provision because the provision states "No person may operate
an airplane in icing conditions at night unless means are provided for
illuminating or otherwise determining the formation of ice on the
parts of the wings that are critical from the standpoint of ice
accumulation." The FAA holds that all of the airplanes have either
the wing ice lights or an acceptable alternative method for
determining the icing accumulation on the wings. As a result, there
is no compliance cost.
Pitot Heat Indication . There were five commenters on this
issue. One manufacturer reports that the per-airplane cost would be
$9,250 to retrofit pitot heat indication tubes, $10,600 to install on
a newly-manufactured airplane, there would be a one-time cost to
apply, engineer, design, and test of $31,670; and it would weigh 4
lbs. Another manufacturer commenter reports that it would cost
between $3,000 and $5,700 per airplane to retrofit its models no
longer in production and it would weigh 1 lb. This commenter also
reports that all of its currently manufactured airplanes have pitot
heat indication systems. One air carrier reports it would cost $1,650
to retrofit its DeHavilland Twin Otters with pitot heat indication
tubes. One association reports that it would cost its members $11,000
per airplane for a retrofit while another association reports that it
would cost its members between $1,500 and $25,000 per airplane for a
FAA Response: Based on information contained in the Draft
Regulatory Evaluation to the FAR/JAR Harmonization, the FAA had
estimated that the per airplane costs would be $500 for a retrofit and
$250 for a newly-manufactured airplane. After review of these
comments, the FAA has revised these cost estimates to $4,000 for a
retrofit, $2,000 for installation on a newly manufactured airplane,
and an additional 5 lbs. of weight to the airplane.
Power Distribution System. One commenter reports that Section
121.313(c) requires a power supply and distribution system that meets
the requirements of six sections of Part 25. They state that this
would require a major redesign of their airplanes' electrical power
distribution system. They report a per airplane cost of $15,605 for a
retrofit, $12,660 for a newly manufactured airplane, and a one-time
engineering, design, testing, and paperwork for FAA approval of
FAA Response: The FAA disagrees with this commenter. They did
not notice that the further text in part 121.313(c) reads "... or that
is able to produce and distribute the load for the required
instruments and equipment, ..." The requirement allows the use of a
power supply and distribution system that has been shown to perform
its functions. Thus, compliance can be established by means other
than part 25. As a result, there are no compliance costs.
Out-of-Service Time to Install Airplane Equipment. Four
commenters note that the FAA failed to include the cost for the
additional out-of-service time that will be needed to install all the
equipment required to comply with the proposal. Although no exact
costs were provided, these commenters assert that this time out of
service would result in a substantial revenue loss.
FAA Response: Even though the FAA attempted to design the
proposed rule to minimize out-of-service time, the agency agrees with
these commenters that there would be some out-of-service time for some
of the affected airplanes. However, as a result of the changes from
the NPRM to the final rule, the FAA contends that all of the required
equipment by the final rule can be installed during regularly
scheduled maintenance and there will be no additional out-of-service
The Alaska Air Carriers Association (AACA), citing the uniqueness
of the Alaskan operating environment and the absolute necessity of air
travel in Alaska, notes that most Alaskan operators utilize mixed
fleets and employ maintenance personnel who work on all airplanes in
such mixed fleets. The AACA maintains that requiring the scheduling
of maintenance personnel according to part 121 standards would place
an additional administrative burden and financial compliance cost on
air carriers at locations with limited personnel and mixed fleets.
The AACA contends that the part 121 specification of maintenance
personnel duty time limitations would require the air carrier either
to develop and apply separate work schedules for part 121 and part 135
mechanics or to hire additional mechanics.
FAA Response: With few exceptions, the FAA agrees with the
commenters. Part 121 requires 24 hours off during any 7 consecutive
days; part 135 makes no such provision. In its original assessment of
maintenance and preventive maintenance personnel duty time
limitations, the FAA assumed the issue to be non-controversial; the
existence of union work rules, Department of Labor regulations and the
generally accepted notion of a "day of rest" were believed to be
sufficient to accomplish the same result. As a consequence, the FAA
did not assess any costs associated with the burden of scheduling and
providing a day of rest for part 135 mechanics as is required under
part 121 where operators must ensure adequate rest for their
The FAA maintains that mechanics, similar to pilots and flight
attendants, must receive adequate rest in order to perform their
duties properly and that the minimum standard required under part 121
would ensure that the opportunity for rest is provided. The FAA,
however, concurs with the AACA that the extending of duty time
limitations to the Alaskan operators of mixed fleets utilizing
maintenance personnel under both parts 121 and 135 would be an
additional cost burden. Therefore, based on cost information provided
by the AACA, the FAA has adjusted its original maintenance cost
estimates accordingly. The adjustment is two-fold: 1) the full cost
burden inclusive of potential added labor costs were estimated for
Alaskan 10-19 seat category air carriers; and 2) the administrative
maintenance personnel scheduling costs without the labor cost factor
were estimated for the remainder of the 10-to-19-seat non-Alaskan
commuter fleet as well as the 20-to-30-seat commuter fleet.
Maintenance Recordkeeping Requirements (Recording). The AACA
also criticizes the FAA's estimate of a one-time cost for compliance
with the commuter rule's maintenance provisions. The AACA maintains
that the one-time cost is underestimated and that there would be on-
going maintenance recordkeeping costs.
FAA Response: The FAA concurs and has adjusted its original
maintenance cost estimates accordingly. In this instance, however,
the FAA has apportioned the added required maintenance recordkeeping
costs between 10-to-19-seat and 20-to-30-seat airplanes for the total
domestic commuter industry.
Maintenance Recordkeeping Requirements (Records Transfer). One
commenter objects to the proposed change requiring engine and
propeller total time in service to be added to the list of required
recorded items. Typically, under part 121, only the total hours in
service of an airplane's airframe is transferred information on older
airplanes because operators have not been required to retain engine
and propeller time in service data. According to the commenter, this
change would necessitate operators of older 121 airplanes to undergo
an extensive search of maintenance records to determine the historical
times on the engine and propeller if such data is available at all.
FAA Response: The FAA concurs with the commenter. The adoption
of part 135 wording imposes the more comprehensive part 135
maintenance recording requirements on part 121 operators and this
might require an extensive search of maintenance records with some
additional cost to an operator of older part 121 airplanes. The FAA,
however, believes that any additional cost as a result of such a
search would be minimal and has been taken into account with the cost
adjustment provided under the maintenance recordkeeping requirements
for recording addressed in an earlier comment. The FAA believes that
the additional cost would be minimal because only seven existing part
121 operators of older propeller-driven airplanes would be affected by
the new requirement. Typically, most part 135 operators utilizing
propeller-driven airplanes already retain engine-and propeller-total-
time-in-service data and most part 121 operators utilize jet-driven
Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP). One
commenter estimates that the cost associated with the CAMP was
considerably greater ($1.6 million) relative to the FAA's estimate to
develop or revise and upgrade the CAMP ($105,000) as a result of the
FAA Response: The FAA does not concur with the commenter's
estimate. The FAA maintains that nearly all operators of airplanes
with 10-to-19- or 20-to-30-seat configurations regardless of whether
operating under part 121 or part 135, are either conducting their
scheduled maintenance under an approved CAMP or have adopted a CAMP as
the basic guideline for their scheduled maintenance. As a
consequence, the FAA based its original estimates on the cost
associated with the minimum editorial changes to operators' CAMP's
necessitated by the commuter rule.
The FAA however, has adjusted its maintenance cost estimates for
recordkeeping requirements based on the comments already discussed and
detailed above. The FAA believes the costs described by the commenter
are costs associated with the new recordkeeping requirements, not
administrative costs associated with the modifications to existing
5. PART 119
Single-Engine Airplanes. Several commenters state that the NPRM
cost estimates for not allowing a passenger to sit in the co-pilot
seat on a single-engine Otter are understated. One commenter states
that the data the FAA used was based on national averages while all of
the airplanes in question are located in Alaska. The commenters also
state that the load factors and operating costs in Alaska are much
higher than the rest of the country.
FAA Response: The FAA agrees with the commenters and will not
prohibit qualified (as prescribed by § 135.113) single-engine
airplanes, namely single-engine Otters, from carrying a revenue
passenger in the copilot seat.
Proving Tests. Several commenters suggest that for operators who
are switching from part 135 to part 121, the FAA should allow proving
tests on revenue flights. Other commenters contend that since the
airplanes they are using and the routes they are flying are not
changing, the FAA should not require a proving test. Still other
commenters state that the FAA's estimate of $437 hourly airplane
operating costs was too low. (This rate includes crew, maintenance,
and fuel costs.) The commenters' estimates range from $750 to $1,050
per hour versus the FAA's average estimate of $483 per hour for 20-to-
30-seat airplanes and $463 per hour for 10-to-19-seat airplanes.
Finally, some part 135 operators commented that they already meet many
of the part 121 requirements and should not have to have a proving
FAA Response: For most part 135 operators, the biggest affect
the NPRM would have on them would be the establishment of a dispatch
system. Thus, for some operators, the FAA could devise tests that
would entail only limited in-flight proving tests. This could be done
almost entirely from the operator's dispatch center. For the initial
upgrade to part 121, the FAA will not require compliance with the
initial airplane proving tests requirements of Section 121.163(a) for
airplanes already used by the affected commuters in Part 135
As for the hourly airplane operating cost, some of the commenters
provided hourly-charter rates. However, the cost of the rule would
not necessitate that operators give up a revenue or charter flight to
complete the proving test. Therefore, the cost of the rule would be
only the direct operating cost of the airplane based on a direct
operating cost rate and not the charter rate. The FAA's estimate was
consistent with estimates provided by several airplane manufacturers.
Management Personnel. One commenter says that a number of their
management personnel would not meet the new criteria and that they
would have to hire all new personnel or a consultant. Other
commenters argue that existing personnel should be "grandfathered in"
under the final rule. Another commenter says that the requirement for
part 121 operators that a director of maintenance have five years of
experience within the past five years excludes people who may have not
worked for an extended period during a job search.
FAA Response: The FAA contends that most currently employed
directors meet the new standards. However, for those directors who do
not, section 119.67(e) allows for operators to request deviation for
the continued employment of those directors. The FAA anticipates that
operators whose directors do not meet the new requirements would
In addition, the FAA agrees that the five years experience within
five years places an unnecessary burden on those directors who may
have extended periods of unemployment within a the five year period
prior to being hired. Thus, the FAA is changing the requirement to
three years of experience in the past six years.
Definition of Commuter Air Carrier. Several commenters disagree
with the FAA's proposal to remove the frequency of operation from the
definition of a "commuter operations". The existing requirement
defines a commuter as one conducting five or more scheduled round-
trips per week. This allows on-demand operators to conduct up to four
scheduled operations per week. The commenters provide only general
comments that the new definition would impose costs.
FAA Response: The FAA agrees with the commenters that the
frequency of operations test in part 135 should remain.
The comments received on the estimated benefits mostly pertained
to the FAA's use of a general-accident-rate approach to estimating
benefits. The commenters object to the FAA's use of a broad-based
accident rate rather than identifying specific historic accidents that
the NPRM could have prevented. Other commenters note that the FAA
deviated from its usual method of calculating benefits. This method
is to identify specific types of accidents (based on the historical
record) that would be prevented by a corresponding requirement of the
proposed rule. Also, commenters indicate that the commuter accident
rate has been declining over the past several years thereby making
much of the rule unnecessary. Finally, commenters note that most of
the accidents involved pilot error, which is not being addressed by
FAA Response: The FAA agrees that most of the historic accidents
involved pilot error. However, many of the pilot error accidents were
the result of the pilot's improper response to an emergency situation.
An example of this would be an accident where an airplane experiences
some mechanical problem or adverse weather and the pilot fails to
follow the appropriate corrective procedures to prevent the accident.
Even if the accident could not have been prevented, the pilot may
have reacted in such a way that the damage or casualties were not
mitigated to the extent that they could have been.
The FAA used a general or broad-based accident rate because the
scope of the NPRM was broad, encompassing a wide range of safety
issues from certification, operations, cabin safety, maintenance, etc.
Similarly, the types of accidents the NPRM would prevent are also
broad, based on a wide range of probable causes of historic accidents.
For most of the accidents, the FAA could not determine if any one
requirement of the NPRM alone could have prevented or mitigated the
accident. This made it very difficult to divide the various probable
causes of the accidents to the various requirements that could have
prevented them. Thus, for the NPRM, the FAA contends that a general
broad based accident rate is more appropriate.
The FAA agrees that the historic accident rate for part 135
operators has declined. However, that rate is still consistently
higher than commuter-type operations under part 121. In the NPRM, the
FAA acknowledged that in some respects the part 135 accident rate is
higher due to some inherent differences in part 135 and part 121
commuter-type operations. In other respects, the part 135 rate is
higher because those operators follow a different and less stringent
set of safety rules than part 121. The FAA contends that much of the
gap in the accident rate could be closed if all commercial passenger-
carrying operators adhered to the higher part 121 standards
7. OTHER AREAS OF INTEREST
Projected Ticket Prices. Several commenters state that the
projected ticket price increases of $1.91 and $.68, respectively for
10-to-19- and 20-to-30-seat airplanes is far off. Commenters from
Alaska presented the strongest disapproval of FAA's projected ticket-
FAA Response: The FAA's cost estimates of $1.91 and $.68 were not
far off because most of the commenters' higher costs claims did not
have merit. Except for some commenters from Alaska, the FAA did not
receive any direct-cost comments related to these two estimates.
Since these two cost estimates were based on the total cost of
compliance for the proposed rule, they would only change if there were
a change in costs for the commuter rule.
The FAA reviewed all of the cost comments submitted on the
proposed rule and rejected the vast majority of them due to the
commenters' failure to substantiate their claims of higher costs. In
terms of the comments received from Alaskan operators, the FAA agrees
that their costs would be higher than $1.91 and $.68, respectively.
It is important to note that these projected ticket price increases
represent averages over the 10-year period. They are based on the
cost of compliance for each of the 10 years, summed over the period,
and divided by the number of years. Therefore, if particular
operators were to incur disproportionate higher costs, they would be
expected to pass those costs on, to the extent possible, in the form
of higher ticket prices. Ticket price increases would be highest for
all impacted operators during the first two to three years and
decrease gradually thereafter.
After accepting some of the cost comments and making adjustments
for changes in performance and certain equipment requirements, the
commuter rule is estimated to cost $118 million (as opposed to $275
million in the NPRM). Based on this estimate, the average annual per
ticket price increase for each of the two airplane-seat categories,
over the next 15 years, will be far less than the original estimates.