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Part 135 Legal Interpretations Pilots MUST Read


Part 135 Legal Interpretations Pilots Must Read

As a professional pilot, you should know the FARs like the back of your hand. But is that enough? Probably not. Legal interpretations can offer a much deeper understanding of the nuances of regulations – it’s not so easy to write one regulation that covers every situation, so FAA legal interpretations might help you fill in the gaps.

On Call = On Duty.

One, of many, legal interpretations addressing Rolling Rest (the practice of requiring crew members to be on standby 24 hours a day) is this 2013 Masterson letter.

It states, “The practice of part 135 operators requiring pilots to be on-call or on standby status, while awaiting a possible assignment of flight duty 24 hours of the day, is not permitted to the extent that the on-call duty is not rest for purposes of 14 C.F.R.” 

One Phone Call Policy.

Now, we know through the Masterson interpretation that being on-call 24 hours a day is duty, but what about answering a phone call during your rest period?

Read this 2012 Kidd letter that states: “the FAA has a “one phone call” policy that “generally allows a certificate holder to initiate one phone call during [a] crewmember’s rest period. If the crewmember voluntarily chooses to answer this phone call, then the FAA does not view the call as disruptive and breaking the rest period.’ However, we emphasize that in order for the “one phone call” policy to apply, the crewmember cannot be required to answer the certificate holder’s phone call, but must instead answer the phone on his own volition.” 

14 Hour Duty Exceedances

The 2012 Kidd letter goes on to address unexpected flight delays and says:  

“if the original planning is upset for reasons beyond the control of the [certificate holder], the flight may nevertheless be conducted, even though crew duty time may extend beyond 14 hours” in a 24-hour period… The FAA has previously stated that “delays due to air traffic control, mechanical problems, or adverse weather could constitute circumstances that are beyond the control of the certificate holder”. In addition, the FAA has stated that “delays due to late-arriving passengers or cargo could also constitute circumstances that are beyond the control of the certificate holder. Accordingly, the delays specified in your question (late-arriving passengers or cargo, low visibility, mechanical failure, and delayed takeoff clearance) could constitute circumstances that are beyond the control of the certificate holder that would permit the flightcrew to finish its duty day after the originally-planned […] completion time.” 

Travel local in nature.

Is driving to your hotel rest or duty? Is airline travel always considered duty? It depends! This 2011 Legal Interpretation sheds some light on this:

Converse 2011. “on average one hour…may be considered reasonably brief…For transportation to be considered local in nature, as in this case, the transportation must be reasonably brief to ensure that the crewmembers get sufficient sleep before they commence with their flightcrew member duties.”

Tail-End Part 91 Flights Home

You dropped off your last passenger and your duty day is getting close to 14 hours, can you fly home?

This Slater 2015 letter states: “For flights operated under part 135, the required rest times as provided in 135.263 through 135.271 would apply to any part 91 flights that occur before or between any flight segments, but not to part 91 flights that take place after flight segments. However, the part 91 flights would not be considered rest, so the applicable rest requirements would need to be met prior to assigning a flightcrew member to additional part 135 duty and flight time.”

Looking for more? The FAA offers a search tool to search through these any many, many more interpretations. When in doubt, find an expert in aviation law to help you out.


Wishing you tailwinds,

Jessie Naor

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