If you own a fractional aircraft or are looking into fractional ownership, you'll probably come across references to FAR 91 Subpart K. These are the federal regulations that cover fractions. Here's an overview of the regulations to bring you up to speed with the most important aspects for fractional owners.
Compliance with these new regulations was required by February 17, 2005. Subart K pertains to the minimum ownership of 1/16th of a multiengine turbojet powered or large aircraft, or 1/32nd of a helicopter. While smaller ownership shares are permitted, those fall under FAR Part 135. Part K also requires a designated program manager, multiple owners with a multi-year agreement, and a dry-lease agreement among the owners.
Subpart K defines the roles of the required program manager. The program manager is responsible for ensuring that the fractional program complies with the applicable requirements. They are also the owners' agent, and receive services of notices regarding the program that are provided by the FAA to owners. Despite the designation of the program manager, the fractional owner still has the rights to review the records of the program manager pertaining to operational safety and compliance.
Key Elements of Subpart K
Many of the elements of Subpart K specifically help protect owners and their passengers. As a fractional owner, it's good to know that these items exist for your safety.
Under Subpart K, a program-operating manual is required. The subpart specifies where the manual must be kept and who must have access, as well as what must be included. The manual needs to include compliance, reporting, and recordkeeping procedures.
Staffing and Training
To help maintain safety, staffing and training requirements are a significant component of Subpart K, which includes procedures of training, vacation time, rest time, among other things. For each flight, a pilot-in-command and a second-in-common must be designated. Once designated, the pilot-in-command must remain the pilot-in-command for the entire duration of the flight. In order to ensure the safety of passengers, pilot safety background checks are required, which include pilot certificates, medical certificates, records from previous employers, and drug testing/alcohol misuse. Subpart K also covers the amount of rest time that's required per 24 hour period, per quarter, and per year.
Testing and training procedures are also detailed. For instance, pilots must be regularly tested with written and/or oral tests on all aspects of flight including (but not limited to) navigation, meteorology, specifics on aircraft info, avoiding and recognizing bad weather, and air traffic control procedures. Program managers must have a training curriculum as described in Subpart K.
For the safety of passengers, Subpart K details the passenger awareness requirements, including procedures on smoking, required use of seat belts, harnesses, and child restrains, and seat back placement during takeoff and landing. The name of the entity in control of the flight must be named during the required safety procedures. Approach and landing minimums, aircraft proving and validation, and required equipment are also described in Subpart K.
Program managers can choose to operate under a Continued Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP). It's optional, but if the program is maintained, then 91.1413 through 91.1443 are required. Under CAMP, the program manager must be responsible for airworthiness, maintenance, and repairing defects. In addition, a Chief Inspector and Director of Maintenance must be designated, and mechanical issues must be reported.
Like FAR 135, an important designation for owners in FAR 91 Subpart K is "operational control." With fractional ownership, the fractional owner is in considered in operational control whenever the owner has chosen that a fractional ownership program aircraft is carrying specific passengers or property.