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What is the FEDERAL REGISTER

and Why is it Important?

Source: www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing, By Jennifer Caron

Have you ever asked yourself, “So, why didn’t I know about that rule change? I wish they had just asked me ...” Well, the Federal Register can help. It’s your online ATIS, a broadcast of aeronautical information that keeps you informed on government actions that can affect you, your airport, or your aircraft. It’s also your on deck ADS-B, available to transmit your position on an aviation rule to help shape the policy decisions that affect GA.

The Federal Register (Register) was created as a one-stop shop for all things “rules and regs,” a communication tool to keep the government, and the public, informed and up to date. It’s widely used by industry and aviation associations alike, and is their key resource to check for proposed legislation or rule changes that could impact the industry in particular, and GA overall. Industry groups keep a close eye on the Register’s online Proposed Rules section to find out when a scheduled public hearing is available, or when a rule is open for public comments.

So How Can the Register Work for You?

The Register provides a daily publication on proposed changes to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and any new aviation rules on the horizon. Their website, www.federalregister.gov, is a resource that keeps you informed, Monday through Friday. It gives you a heads up on proposed aviation rules, Airworthiness Directives for unsafe conditions, or rule changes coming down the pike. It also gives you a great opportunity to find out when public hearings are scheduled, and how you can make statements and submit data for, or against, a new or changing rule. The FAA has rules on the Register’s website that are up for review now. Use this link to take a look: www.federal- register.gov/agencies/federal-aviation-administration.

How Can I Stay Informed with the Register?

“A great way to find out which rules are under review by the FAA, real time, is to sign up for email alerts at the Register’s website,” says Lakisha Pearson, Management and Program Analyst in the FAA’s Office of Rulemaking. “You can subscribe to the topics you’re interested in, and be a part of MyFR, where you can see significant regulations and be the first to get access to FAA documents, even before they publish in the Register.” As a companion to the Register, she also suggests www.regulations.gov, the government’s portal for collecting comments and documents associated with Federal Register Notices. You can use this site to keep up to date on the FAA’s pending and completed rules, and get a heads up on future rulemaking activities, called the Unified Agenda, for this year and next.

Do I Have a Voice on What Rules Get Finalized?

Yes. You do. Federal law mandates that you have a say in the process. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, all proposed rules must be published in the Register so the public can submit comments on proposed rules. The federal government wants and values your comments as a part of the rulemaking process.

Will My Comments Make a Difference?

Yes. “Your comments are the most effective when they are solution-based,” explains Amy Bunk, Director of Legal Affairs and Policy at the Office of the Federal Register. “If you are affected by a proposed regulation, and want the agency to make a change, it’s critical that your comments offer some alternatives, or suggest concrete plans, to help improve the agency’s proposed rule.”

As a guide, she recommends the tutorials and learn links on the Register’s website to help draft your comments. Also, check out her instructional piece, “Federal Register 101.” It gives a brief history on the Register and how it can work for you. Visit federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/fr_101.pdf.

But Does My Opinion Really Matter?

Yes, it does. Agencies review each and every public comment they receive. Your comments and alternative plans can improve a proposed rule, change it, or even cancel it entirely. Some of your comments can help improve a proposed Airworthiness Directive, or can even make it into a final, published rule.

Your experience and knowledge on all things aviation are valuable. Let the Register be the vehicle that drives your expertise and solutions straight through to the decision makers, and let it be a resource to keep you informed. You will help shape policy, and you might even make history, with a lasting legacy on a rule that will improve GA safety for years to come.

Learn More

So How Do I Get Started?

Click on www.federalregister.gov, and look for proposed rules that are open for public comment.

How do I Discover the History of a Rule?

To trace the history of most rules in the Federal Register, use the rule’s source note (usually found at the beginning of a subpart or immediately following the section) to
obtain a citation number. For example, if you wanted to know more about the history of the sport pilot certificate, you would search eCFR for title 14, part 61, subpart J. Immediately under subpart J you would see the Federal Register citation number 69 FR 44869. Then go to www.federalregister.gov, type the citation number in the search bar to pull up the final, published rule. There you’ll find all the background information on that rule, such as a link to the original notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), the purpose, the issue, the steps to address that issue, a summary of public comments, and the FAA’s response to those comments.

Jennifer Caron is an assistant editor for FAA Safety Briefing. She is a certified technical writer-editor, and is currently pursuing a Sport Pilot Certificate.