PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators can be difficult to come by. While the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) provides official PRIA guidance to Part 135 carriers in their PRIA advisory circular (AC-120-68), that “guidance” oftentimes requires an understanding of other regulatory cannons, industry practice, and the FAA’s legal interpretation of PRIA. So, while the advisory circular does provide some PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators, it doesn’t necessarily put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the Part 135 start-up company (or existing Part 135 company that is auditing their PRIA processes). Don’t be mistaken, the FAA’s advisory circular is the foundational PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators – it just doesn’t provide a practical system for PRIA processes for Part 135 operators.
What are some important considerations for Part 135 operators that are either creating or recreating their PRIA processing system? First, Part 135 operators should keep in mind that they should always have a rigid “system” in place for responding to PRIA requests from outside air carriers and for requesting PRIA documents from outside air carriers. This means that every request should have the same process – from start to finish. For example, a startup Part 135 carrier can’t afford to miss the 30-day response period for providing records to an outside carrier and ultimately get hit with a civil penalty from the FAA. Having an individual or department that is consistent in its PRIA process can help alleviate oversight and potentially those civil penalties. Second, Part 135 operators should develop a “review” element to their PRIA processing in order to prevent “personnel records” from carelessly floating into an airman’s PRIA records. Including personnel records in an airman’s PRIA records and worse yet, sending personnel records to an outside carrier, can potentially produce scorn/liability from both the airman and the FAA. A definitive process, developed by a clear understanding of PRIA and industry practice can help prevent these types of errors.
All Part 135 carriers should make an attempt to streamline their PRIA response and request processes to ensure accuracy and regularity. In doing so, the Part 135 carrier will make great strides in preventing liability. If you are a Part 135 company and require assistance with developing a PRIA process, call The Pilot Lawyer at The Ison Law Firm; your PRIA attorney is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.