NATA will hold its 2012 Air Charter Summit June 11-13 at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia, bringing the air charter community together for a series of sessions on working within the Part 135 regulatory landscape and other pressing issues.
“The big picture is that this is an event that is structured specifically for the Part 135 air charter operator. There’s no other event that’s really just for the Part 135 community,” says NATA Director of Regulatory Affairs Jacqueline Rosser. “We endeavor to put on content that does two things. First, we’ll give our members an overview of what’s going on in Washington. We’ll have a panel of FAA leadership who will talk about what’s been going on in the last year and what’s coming up on their agenda that will impact the operators. Second, we’ll try to give members practical advice and help with business and regulatory issues. ”
With a plethora of new rules and regulations on the horizon, Rosser says one of the most important sessions at the Summit will be the FAA regulatory review panel.
“The regulatory review gives you the FAA’s perspective on what the rulemaking initiatives are, and there are quite a few,” Rosser says. “We expect new rules that deal with how you operate positioning, repositioning, or deadhead flights, rules changing pilot background checks and others. It’s so beneficial to hear from the FAA on these initiatives and get their estimates on timing so the operators can be prepared and involved in the crafting of those rules. We also focus on getting practical information to people. We’ll have a session called ‘Is it Legal?’ where we will have questions from operators, who want to make sure they’re on the right side of things, submitted to a panel of attorneys to help answer questions about things like selling individual seats on a chartered aircraft and the carriage of medical oxygen for passengers. Our members can get a perspective on what’s coming and get practical guidance on things that are happening today.”
Rosser says the 2012 sessions will include a number of topics related to new training offerings, business issues, and tax-related quandaries.
“One of the hot topics right now is related to how a managed aircraft is taxed,” Rosser says. “The IRS is working hard to impose commercial taxes, like the ticket tax when you buy an airline ticket, on management fees for private aircraft. When an owner has an aircraft, he or she often has a charter operator manage it. The charter operator can then also use it for commercial flight and hold it out to the public for charter. But when the owner wants to use his or her own airplane, its use is considered private. The owner pays a fee to the charter operator and management company for their services in managing the aircraft. Now the IRS says, ‘We want all that to be taxed as well.’ Just because you’re hiring outside expertise to help run and manage your aircraft, the IRS is viewing that as though it’s commercial. They want you to collect and pay taxes on those fees. It’s a huge issue for the industry right now, and we’re going to have somebody speaking about what’s going on, our efforts to combat the taxation, and how operators can defend against it.”
Another hot topic is FAA guidance for new hire pilot training. “There are some changes being made by the FAA in the guidance that must be followed in creating training programs, specifically for newly hired pilots, and those are going to affect many operators who will have to adapt their training programs to meet the new standards,” Rosser said. “We’ll be presenting what’s happening and help with solutions to address the upcoming changes. Another aspect we’ll be discussing is the common problems or pitfalls that operators get tripped up on in their training programs, and finding ways to address them proactively.”
And while regulatory issues, taxation issues, and business issues in a down economy may not be the sexiest of topics, Rosser believes there is cause for optimism and a sense of opportunity throughout the air charter community heading into the 2012 Air Charter Summit. “I spend a lot of time down in the weeds of the regulatory issues, so it’s good to pop my head up and see that there are also great opportunities for our industry,” Rosser said. “The commercial airlines continue to have escalating prices and reductions in service and our industry really fills the gap, both in service to the individual and also service in general for people who can’t get where they want to go on the airlines. We can fill in and take advantage of that opportunity for charter operators to grow. Another special thing to highlight is our partnership with the Veterans Airlift Command, a charitable organization that gives free transportation to wounded veterans and their families for medical treatment or other needs. Often the airlines just aren’t the right way for them to travel, and this transportation is completely free to the veteran and his or her family. We’re partnering with the Veterans Airlift Command to shake up our usual evening social event on Tuesday night with a fun dinner and raffle to benefit the Veterans Airlift Command (prizes include a brand new third generation iPad).”
The welcome reception on Monday, June 14, officially begins at 5 p.m., but Rosser recommends flying in early. No trip to Dulles, Virginia, would be complete without a visit to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, and tours for Summit attendees will be available on Monday from noon to 5 p.m. “A lot of people appreciate the opportunity to check out some of the unique sites in DC that are available as part of the Summit, and the Udvar-Hazy Center is always a favorite,” Rosser said. Featured aviation artifacts on the tour include the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay; and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic airplane. The tour also features an overlook view at the new Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, where restoration is now underway on a Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver and where the museum is beginning restoration on a number of NASA artifacts destined for the Udvar-Hazy Center’s James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, which currently features the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Gemini VII space capsule, the Mobile Quarantine Unit used upon the return of the Apollo 11 crew, and a Redstone rocket.
Rosser says she expects NATA members will find the sessions at the 2012 Air Charter Summit invaluable, but concedes that one of the most important aspects of the Summit is the opportunity to network with other operators in the industry. “To that end, we have a couple of social events planned to help operators make connections, share thoughts, get to know each other, or reconnect with old friends,” Rosser says.
The event starts June 11, and you can register on-site. Registration for members is $620.
Article By Colin Bane first appeared in NATA’s Q2 ABJ. Click here to read ABJ in its entirety.
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