Clear as Mud – Duty Time Tracking for Managers


You know how sometimes the FAA publishes a legal interpretation meant to clarify a regulation and instead does the exact opposite – makes the issue even muddier? You know… not often… just sometimes…

In 2014, the FAA published a legal interpretation regarding Part 135 duty tracking, specifically in regards to “flight-qualified management.” The second paragraph of the interp contends that 135.63(a)(4)(vii) does not require a certificate holder to maintain a specific record of a pilot’s duty time.

Awesome! Now a flying manager can stop tracking all those pesky office hours and other non-flight related time, right?

WRONG! Without the context of the interp requester’s exact question, it’s hard to say whether this is a terribly worded paragraph in the legal interp or… Okay, it’s a terribly worded paragraph that – if taken at face value – can lead you to trouble. Technically, it’s an accurate statement – Part 135 does not specifically require a certificate holder to track duty time.

But wait – there’s more!

The next paragraph in the interp states that “each certificate holder operating under Part 135 is responsible for complying with all applicable flight, duty, and rest regulations of Part 135.” Right. So how do you prove a flying manager is legal for a flight without documenting the required rest period? And how do you document a rest period without documenting duty time?

You may recall from previous blog posts that to be a true rest period, the period must:

  1. Be continuous;
  2. Have a determined start and stop time; and
  3. Be a period in which the individual is free from responsibility to the certificate holder.

In “Managing Flying Managers“, I presented some challenges in having true rest periods for managers, particularly in small operations. Even with creative solutions, I know it can be difficult to have a flying manager truly “off.” I encourage you to consider scheduling options like trading “on-call” status of flying managers. Each Part 135 operation is different but with a little ingenuity it is possible to be safe and (reasonably) compliant.

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