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Operational Control for Part 91 on FAA's Radar
The FAA's scrutiny of Part 135 operational control has spurred an interest in operational control of Part 91 business jets. While no specific regulation requires operational control under Federal Aviation Regulation Part 91, owners are responsible for airworthiness and safety, and this implies a need for operational control, according to Mike Nichols, vice president of operations, education and economics for the National Business Aviation Association.
The issue for Part 91 operators came to light during FAA examinations of Part 135 charter companies when the agency asked aircraft owners about who had operational control over certain flights. Some owners didn't know or assumed that the Part 135 certificate holder had operational control, even over Part 91 flights. "What the FAA is saying," Nichols noted, "is that if the owner doesn't want to take control, Part 135 would be the only option." The FAA isn't going to regulate flight departments or management companies, he said, but it may take action against an owner if a flight is conducted illegally or against a management company that should be operating under Part 135 but is not.