For Immediate Release

December 27, 2005
Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: 202-267-3462

On December 14, 1995, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled the centerpiece of the most comprehensive set of rulemakings ever written by the agency. Known as “One Level Of Safety,” the Commuter Initiatives addressed FAA forecast that showed the number of commuter air passengers were expected to increase to 40 million in 10 years. Prior to these initiatives, which were fully implemented in 1997, Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) Part 135 Commuter Aircraft were defined as aircraft that operated with 30 seats or less and a 7,500-pound payload. It was perceived by many in the aviation community that due to the types of operations and configurations of the aircraft, commuter aircraft had to meet less rigorous operations and maintenance standards. Under the final Commuter Initiatives, all scheduled airline passenger operations with airplanes having 10 seats or more were required to be operated under the same safety rules that apply to larger (FARs Part 121) airplanes.

  • The Commuter Initiatives required certificated dispatchers and a dispatch system, a safety officer, a ground-deicing program, operations and flight attendant manuals, a carry-on baggage program, and virtually all other Part 121 operational requirements. When regulations between large and small aircraft could not be made uniform due to inherent operational, equipment and performance differences, a common sense approach was used to achieve an equivalent standard of safety. For example, it didn’t make sense to require floor lighting on a small airplane when every seat was found to be a few feet from an exit.
  • Under the 1995 rulemakings, all newly certificated airplanes were required to meet all of the higher standards (FARs Transport Category, Part 25 aircraft). A small number of existing, older 10 to 19 seat aircraft were provided a 15 year phase-in to meet certain performance requirements.
  • Certain items (primarily equipment) were phased in. Most items were required within the regulatory 15-month compliance period. Certain items were phased in at a two year, four year, and 15 year intervals. The date has past for the two and four year items. Four items were allowed 15 years: passenger seat cushion flammability standards, third attitude indicator, ditching approval, and performance requirements. The Beech 1900D is certified as a commuter category airplane and would meet the certification performance requirements (FARS 121, 157, 121.189(c)). It was anticipated that certain older airplanes (normal category such as Metro II, Beech 1900C, and others) would be phased out of scheduled passenger service within 15 years.
  • An important part of the 1995 Commuter Initiatives was the Air Carrier Training Rule. This required all pilots of passenger operations of airplanes with 10 seats or more to undergo increased training programs. The rule ensured that the new training programs made use of the latest advances in technology and emphasized communication and coordination among all crew members
  • The 1995 rulemakings were phased in a year and one-half period and was estimated to have cost $75 million. At the time, that cost was equivalent to about 62 cents per passenger for 10-19 seat aircraft, and 30 cents per passenger for 20-30 seat aircraft.