How Should Private Flying Be Regulated?

Further relaxation of governmental regulations to provide more freedom for the development of private flying has been urged by many organizations, spearheaded by the Personal Aircraft Council of the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce, an organization made up of airplane and aviation products manufacturers. In general, the efforts of this group are directed toward reshaping the rules and regulations governing personal aircraft to follow those now governing the automobile industry.

“The auto industry has achieved world leadership in design and production practice through industry initiative, un-hampered by Government regulation,” the Personal Aircraft Council points out in a recent statement of proposed policy on the subject.

The task of regulating airplanes and pilots is the job of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the CAA. These official government groups point out that licensing aircraft and certifying pilots is more necessary than licensing automobiles and their drivers. For public safety and the protection of property, airplanes must be airworthy and pilots must be competent.

It is illegal for anyone to fly a plane today without a certificate or a permit authorizing him to do so. In addition, it is against the law to fly any civil aircraft before the plane has proved safe in design and structure and been issued an air-worthiness certificate by the CAA.

The Personal Aircraft Council believes that the present airworthiness requirements have added to the price of personal aircraft far out of proportion with actual safety needs. The Council suggests that the trend should be to rely more on the manufacturer’s responsibility for design and production practice and less on the government.

Such a change in regulations would definitely limit the CAA as a centralized authority for careful checking on the design, structure, and testing of new aircraft to see that these planes conform with the safety and performance standards. Every CAA rule was incorporated in the regulations only, presumably, after careful study and proof that it would increase safety and improve performance. These regulations and rules are continuously being amended by the CAA and CAB in a sincere effort to be of help to those who fly.

Who says you can fly?

“It should be the right of any American to obtain a pilot’s certificate with no greater difficulty than in getting an auto driver’s license,” the Personal Aircraft Council recommended. Its report proposed that the right to pilot an aircraft should depend only on an applicant’s proof of ability to fly the plane with reasonable skill. In addition he would have to pass a written test based upon an established set of questions and answers covering the things a pilot should know.

Under the present regulations an applicant for a private pilot’s certificate must be of good character, be able to read and speak English, be free from any physical defect that would prevent the safe operation of aircraft under normal conditions, and be at least 17 years old. The applicant must make a satisfactory score on a written examination covering air traffic rules for contact flying and general rules of operation. In addition to at least 10 hours of instruction and 30 hours of logged solo time, the applicant must be able to make normal take-offs, turns, and landings, as well as successfully complete a series of prescribed maneuvers which demonstrate his ability to pilot aircraft.

For Discussion

As a means for keeping the safety record of aviation high, should physically handicapped persons be denied the right to fly? Should manufacturers of private aircraft be permitted to decide whether their planes are airworthy or not, or should CAA inspection and licensing be continued? Were the previous rules governing certification of pilots so strict that they would have slowed up the progress of private flying? Have they been relaxed too much? Should any pilot be permitted to give flying lessons without charging a fee?