Agency Information Collection; Activity Under OMB Review; Report of Financial and Operating Statistics for Small Aircraft Operators-- Form 298-C

Agency Information Collection; Activity Under OMB Review; Report of Financial and Operating Statistics for Small Aircraft Operators-- Form 298-C

Federal Register Notice
February 11, 1997
Volume 62, Number 28

AGENCY: Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), DOT.

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) invites the general public, industry and other Federal Agencies to comment on the continuing need and usefulness of BTS collecting financial, traffic and operating statistics from small certificated and commuter air carriers. Small certificated air carriers (operate aircraft with 60 seats or less or with 18,000 pounds of payload capacity or less) must file the five quarterly schedules listed below:

A-1 Report of Flight and Traffic Statistics in Scheduled Passenger Operations,

E-1 Report of Nonscheduled Passenger Enplanements by Small Certificated Air Carriers,

F-1 Report of Financial Data,

F-2 Report of Aircraft Operating Expenses and Related Statistics, and

T-1 Report of Revenue Traffic by On-Line Origin and Destination.

Commuter air carriers must file the three quarterly schedules listed below:

A-1 Report of Flight and Traffic Statistics in Scheduled Passenger Operations,

F-1 Report of Financial Data, and

T-1 Report of Revenue Traffic by On-Line Origin and Destination.

Commenters should address whether BTS accurately estimated the reporting burden and if there are other ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collected.

DATES: Written comments should be submitted by April 14, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be directed to: Office of Airline Information, K-25, Room 4125, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

COMMENTS: Comments should identify the OMB # 2138-0009 and submit a duplicate copy to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the Department to acknowledge receipt of their comments must submit with those comments a self-addressed stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: Comments on OMB # 2138-0009. The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bernie Stankus, Office of Airline Information, K-25, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001, (202) 366-4387.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

OMB Approval No. 2138-0009.

Title: Report of Financial and Operating Statistics for Small Aircraft Operators--Form 298-C.

Form No.: 298-C.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Respondents: Small certificated and commuter air carriers.

Number of Respondents: 100

Estimated Time Per Response: 16 hours for small certificated 7 hours for commuters.

Total Annual Burden: 5,000 hours.

Needs and Uses: Program Uses of Form 298-C Data.

Mail Rates

The Department of Transportation (DOT) sets and updates the Intra- Alaska Bush mail rates based on carrier expense, traffic, and operational data. Form 298-C cost data, especially fuel costs, terminal expenses, and line haul expenses are used in arriving at rate levels. DOT revises the established rates based on the percentage of unit cost changes in the carriers' operations. These updating procedures have resulted in the carriers receiving rates of compensation that more closely parallel their costs of providing mail service and contribute to the carriers' economic well-being.

Essential Air Service

DOT also must determine a community's eligibility as an essential air service (EAS) point. If the community qualifies as an EAS point, a determination is made as to what level of service the community is entitled and how much, if any, compensation must be paid to air carriers that provide the service.

After DOT has determined that a community is eligible to receive EAS, DOT often has to select a carrier to provide the service. Some of the carrier selection criteria are historic presence in the community, reliability of carrier service, financial stability of the carrier, and carrier cost structure.

Carrier Fitness

Fitness determinations are made for both new entrants and established U.S. domestic carriers proposing a substantial change in operations. A portion of these applications consists of an operating plan for the first year (14 CFR Part 204) and an associated projection of revenues and expenses. The carrier's operating cost, included in these projections, are compared against the cost data in the Form 298-C file for a carrier or carriers with the same aircraft type and similar operating characteristics. Such a review validates the reasonableness of the carrier's operating plan.

The quarterly financial submissions by commuter air carriers are used in determining each carrier's continuing fitness to operate. Section 41738 of Title 49 of the United States Code requires DOT to find all commuters fit, willing and able to conduct passenger service as a prerequisite to providing such service to an eligible essential air service point. In making a fitness determination, DOT reviews three areas of a carrier's operation: (1) The qualifications of its management team, (2) its disposition to comply with laws and regulations, and (3) its financial posture. DOT must determine whether or not a carrier has sufficient financial resources to conduct its operations without imposing undue risk on the traveling public. Moreover, once a carrier is operating as a commuter, DOT is required to monitor its continuing fitness.

Industry Analysis

The Secretary, Deputy Secretary and other senior DOT officials must be kept fully informed and advised of all current and developing economic issues affecting the airline industry. This is accomplished through the preparation of testimony given before Congressional committees, briefing and status papers, speech preparation, and memoranda recommending decisions or listing available options.

The program methodologies under this program are as varied as the nature of the particular aviation policy issues that confront senior DOT officials. In preparing financial condition reports or status reports on a particular airline, financial and traffic data are analyzed. Briefing papers may use the same information as well as airport activity data and market data. In summary, the nature of a particular aviation issue determines the particular methodology used to prepare the analysis.

Safety Analysis

The FAA evaluates the adequacy of aviation safety regulations, standards, policies and procedures. Problem areas are identified and recommendations are developed for appropriate solutions. Enplanement data are used in evaluating the safety status of carriers. Passenger- miles are used to calculate fatality and injury rates, while aircraft- miles are used in performing risk analysis and comparative analyses with other traffic modes. Departure data are used to calculate accident/incident rates, developing rates of near misses, and assessing the significance of the incident of operational errors.

Forecasting

Traffic schedules are used to derive air carrier operations at non- tower airports. Historical aircraft departure data are used to supplement and validate other sources of Terminal Area Forecasts (TAF). The aircraft operations data in the TAF are needed by the National Plan of Integrated Airports System (NPIAS) to prepare airport master plans. In addition, aircraft operations forecast data in TAF are used in developing benefit/cost ratios for tower establishment and tower discontinuance criteria, for supporting decisions on the purchase of safety-related avionics equipment, and for the allocation of scarce resources for the construction or expansion of runways and other airport facilities.

Historical enplanement data are required to produce short, medium, and long range passenger demand forecasts for all airports with passenger service. These forecasts are presented in the TAF data base, which contains approximately 4,000 airports, including all airports in the NPIAS. TAF enplanement data are used in the preparation of various airport master plans and in response to requests for specific airport information from Congress, states, and the general public.

Historical passenger enplanement data, aircraft departure data, and freight and mail tons enplaned by airport are all used to project air carrier traffic and cargo activity levels for hub airports.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

Safety rules proposed by the FAA operating units are submitted for economic analysis. Under established costing methodologies, which use various cost and traffic data, accident data, and risk analysis, the proposed rules are evaluated on (1) a cost/benefit basis, (2) regulatory flexibility basis and, (3) an international trade impact basis.

Allocation of Airport and Airways Improvement Funds

A revenue passenger enplanement formula prescribed in the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 is used to determine the amount of funds to be allocated to each airport. Form 298-C schedules that identify revenue passengers enplaned at individual airports in the United States and Trust Territories, are used for the formula.

Since several airports in the national system are heavily involved in air freight, all-cargo data, such as revenue tons enplaned and aircraft departures, are used to plan for future needs of those airports. Scheduled aircraft departures by aircraft type by airport are used in determining the practical annual capacity (PANCAP) at airports, as prescribed in FAA Advisory Circular ``Airport Capacity Criteria Used in Preparing the National Airport Plan.'' PANCAP is a safety-related benchmark measure which indicates when airport management should be concerned about capacity problems, delays and possible needed airport expansion or runway construction.

Noise Abatement

Air carrier traffic data by airport are used in assessing the level and frequency of service at individual airports in order to determine the environmental noise impact of carrier operations. Also, aircraft operating data are used to assess carrier compliance with noise abatement agreements.

Timothy E. Carmody,
Director, Office of Airline Information, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

[FR Doc. 97-3331 Filed 2-10-97; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-FE-P