The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has a long history of concerns about the safety of various revenue passenger-carrying operations conducted under Title 14
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. These operations, which carry thousands of passengers for compensation or hire each year, are not held to the same maintenance, airworthiness, and operational standards as air carrier, commuter and on-demand, and air tour operations conducted under 14
CFR Parts 121, 135, and 136, respectively.
Some commercial operations that carry passengers for compensation or hire are excepted from 14
CFR Part 119, Certification: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators, which provides the requirements that an operator must meet to obtain and hold a certificate authorizing operations under Parts 121 or 135. As indicated in 14
CFR 119.1(e), these excepted operations include certain nonstop commercial air tour flights, sightseeing flights conducted in hot air balloons, and nonstop intentional parachute jump flights.
Operators providing living history flight experience sightseeing flights can be exempted from other Part 119 regulations and certain Part 91 regulations. These revenue passenger-carrying flights are conducted aboard historically significant aircraft that were formerly operated in US military service.
Glider sightseeing flights are conducted under Part 91 because they are omitted from Parts 121 and 135 and are not covered by Part 136 commercial air tour rules. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), although glider sightseeing operations are not explicitly excepted from Part 119, “such operations would not need to be conducted under the authority of a part 119 certificate.”
In addition, some Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying operators have exploited specific 14
CFR 119.1(e) exceptions by carrying revenue passengers for purposes other than the exceptions intended, allowing them to avoid more stringent regulatory requirements. For example, some operators carry passengers under the premise of student instruction or training flights, which are excepted from the requirements of 14
CFR 119.1(e). Although these operators might provide some flight training, most of their operations involve flights with another intended purpose, such as air combat/extreme aerobatic experience flights and tour flights.
Members of the public who pay to participate in Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying activities are likely unaware that these operations have less stringent requirements than other commercial aviation operations. Although the types of Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying operations are diverse, the need for greater safety requirements and more comprehensive oversight applies to all of these operations.
|Honolulu, Hawaii, 2/18/16
|Part 119-excepted activity—nonstop commercial air tour flight with a letter of authorization
|Lockhart, Texas, 7/30/16
|Part 119-excepted activity—hot air balloon sightseeing flight
|Mokuleia, Hawaii, 6/21/19
|Part 119-excepted activity—parachute jump flight
|Windsor Locks, Connecticut, 10/2/19
|Part 91- and 119-exempted activity—LHFE sightseeing flight
|Morrisville, Vermont, 8/29/18
|Part 119-omitted activity—glider sightseeing flight
| Four Corners, California, 10/21/17
|Part 119-exploited activity—air combat/extreme aerobatic experience flight operating as student instruction
|Poipu, Hawaii, 12/22/10
|Part 119-exploited activity—tour flight operating as student instruction
| New York, New York, 3/11/18
|Part 119-exploited activity—nonstop commercial air tour flight operating as an aerial photography flight
We made recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration.