AOPA & NCAA Successfully Resolve Part 139 Aerodrome Regulatory Dispute

Announcement From the AOPA President's Desk:

Part 139 Amendment Resolution and Other Issues

Dear Fellow Aviators,

Please allow me to first thank those of you who have worked tirelessly since 2018 to get Namibia's Part 139 aerodrome regulations satisfactorily amended, as well to everyone who has given support and assistance to achieve a positive outcome on this critical General Aviation issue.

With the successful promulgation of Government Gazette No. 8056 on 31 March 2023, AOPA Namibia believes General Aviation has collectively scored a major Part 139 victory in establishing appropriate regulations for our Namibian airports – in particular with regard to Category D aerodromes where the interests of our General Aviation members remain protected.

We acknowledge that there may still be some challenges to implementing the amended Part 139 regulations, but considering the substantial changes that have now been applied to the onerous 2018 Part 139 regulations, the Board of AOPA Namibia has decided not to pursue any further legal challenge to Part 139 promulgation.

2023 Part 139 Aerodrome Regulations

With regard to the new Part 139 Aerodrome regulatory amendments, here is AOPA Namibia's current understanding of how the new law impacts General Aviation:

  • The new amendments were gazetted on 31 March 2023, and went into full effect on 1 April 2023 — with the exception of Subpart 5 (Category D aerodromes) which includes an 18 month transition clause.
  • Aerodrome categories have been simplified to Category A (certified international/domestic) aerodromes, Category B (licensed international/domestic) aerodromes, Category C (licensed domestic) aerodromes, and Category D (unlicensed domestic) aerodromes.

New Category D Aerodrome Regulations

With regard to the new Category D (unlicensed domestic) aerodromes – covered in Subpart 5 of the new regulations – here are the main takeaways:

  • Subpart 5 is the only section of the newly promulgated Part 139 amendment that does not go into effect immediately. Instead, an 18 month transition period has been provided for operators of Category D aerodromes that receive scheduled and non-scheduled commercial traffic to register with the NCAA.
  • As per the new Subpart 1 (General Requirements) amendments, Part 121 (Air Transport Operations - Large Aeroplanes), Part 135 (Air Transport Operations - Small Aeroplanes), and ab initio flying training operations must only use registered Category D aerodromes for landing and takeoff operations (i.e. Category D aerodromes which have received an acknowledgement of registration from the NCAA). 
  • Registered Category D aerodromes that receive: 1) greater than 500 passengers during the busiest 3 month period, or 2) aircraft with a MTOW greater than 5700 kgs, or 3) scheduled commercial flights, must establish enhanced safety and security operational measures.
  • There are no regulations preventing Part 91 (General Operating and Flight Rules) and Part 149 (Aviation Recreation Organization) operators from landing at unregistered Category D aerodromes.
  • Category D aerodrome registration is now an information submission process only – not an operational permitting process – as the NCAA finally agreed with AOPA to remove the registration refusal section from Subpart 5. Thus, a Category D aerodrome will be deemed registered as soon as the NCAA issues an acknowledgement of registration to the aerodrome operator.
  • Category D aerodrome registration information must be resubmitted every 5 years.

Moving Forward

Whilst AOPA Namibia believes we have now reached a satisfactory conclusion with regard to the Part 139 issue, we know there are still several other significant challenges facing the Namibian aviation industry. Amongst these are issues of:

  • Aircrew licensing
  • Airworthiness
  • Flight medicals, and
  • Hours of operation at key airports.

In addition, there are also a number of regulatory challenges on the horizon which include a significant increase in user fees, as was recently published in the NCAA's draft Part 187 document.

It is vital that we continue to work together to face these challenges, and I urge all aviators and those involved in aviation to join AOPA Namibia to lend us your support to face these issues.

Finally, I believe that it is important we work to strengthen our relationship with key stakeholders, in particular the NCAA and NAC, while also giving our support when possible.

We can only grow the Namibian aviation sector by collaborating and building capacity at all levels – we have a key role to play in this and there is much knowledge and wisdom that can be shared by our members in that regard.

Fly safe,

Riaan Burger
AOPA Namibia

AOPA Namibia exists to protect the aviation interests, rights and privileges of ALL its members.

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