Letter to BPPSE

June 4, 2010

Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education
Attn: Joanne Wenzel, Staff Services Manager III
1625 N. Market Blvd., Suite S 202
Sacramento, California 95834

RE: Comments Concerning BPPE Regulations

Dear Members of the Bureau:

Having read the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) regulations in their entirety I am convinced the Bureau is attempting to include too many programs within a single “one size fits all” set of rules. This results in situations where the activity targeted to be regulated is simply incapable of conforming to the requirements of the Bureau.

As an example, the BPPE’s regulations may have been perfectly constructed to fit the structure needed to assess traditional collegiate academic programs with fixed term lengths and student costs, but these rules are inappropriate when applied to the unique nature of the Aviation and Flight Training process prescribed by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Eligibility for pilot licensing is based on an individual’s age, accumulated flight experience, and demonstrated skills. No academic diplomas or degrees are required to attain even the highest level of pilot certification. Simply, there is no such thing as “postsecondary” flight training. Does the BPPE plan to unilaterally redefine Federal law in order to apply its own interpretation to flight schools? Another example of the regulations’ vagueness is the conspicuous absence of a definition for the term “institution” even though this is the core entity to which its rules apply. (AB 48 does only slightly better stating in paragraph 94843 that “Institution” means any private postsecondary educational institution, including its branch campuses and satellite locations.)

Could the Bureau decide on its own that an independent FAA Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI), offering aviation training to an individual at a remote, rural airport is an “institution” and therefore subject to the full enforcement of the regulations including a $5000 fee for approval to operate? What if this same flight instructor is training two pilots at two different airports? Will the Bureau consider the instructor to now be operating a “branch” campus subject to the fees and administrative burdens applicable to this status? Such a scenario is not simply hypothetical as this type of activity occurs throughout California at thousands of airports.

Prior to moving to California in 2004 I owned and operated a small, incorporated flight training business at an airport in suburban Dallas, Texas. During a “good year” my two Flight Instructor 2 employees and I could generate almost $12,000 in gross revenue. Were I to attempt to provide the same flight training services in California under current BPPE rules, nearly half of that revenue would be diverted to simply paying BPPE-required fees and administrative costs … and that’s before the other airport, city, county, and state fees and taxes imposed by other agencies are taken into account. Add federal taxes and other fixed expenses of simply running a business and it quickly becomes apparent that there is absolutely no incentive for me to reopen my aviation training business in California.

By not running my business, the BPPE will not collect fees from me. I do not generate sales taxes nor do I have assets subject to property taxes. I do not pay employment taxes as I have no employees. By not flying any aircraft I pay no taxes on fuel purchases. Please explain how the State of California and its residents benefit from the BPPE regulating small flight schools and independent Flight Instructors out of existence?

A consequence of reduced flight instructor availability will be the adverse effect on the state’s aviation safety posture. There are thousands of California pilots that have significantly reduced the number of flights they make due to economic concerns. As with any technical skill, the ability to perform the task proficiently decreases as engagement in the activity decreases.

Traditionally pilots could seek out a local Flight Instructor to guide them back to the top of their skills. However, these individuals may have to fly long distances to seek training opportunities after their local flight schools and part-time CFIs have given up. It will be more difficult for pilots to receive both elective and mandatory recurrent proficiency training; and it definitely will be more costly where ever training is available. Tragically, historical data makes it realistic to predict an increase in aircraft accidents and fatalities. This may well be traceable both directly and indirectly to suffocating regulations reducing the availability of flight instructors to the state’s pilot population. Again, how does the State of California and its residents benefit from the BPPE applying its current regulations to the flight training industry?

I propose the BPPE take immediate action to exempt Flight Schools and Independent Certificated Flight Instructors from inclusion under its current regulations. Although the Federal Aviation Administration already has detailed laws in place regulating flight training, if the Bureau determines that some form of regulation at the state level is needed it should ensure that representatives from the aviation training industry are included to create a meaningful and effectively worded document that is tailored to meet the distinctive characteristics of the activity.

Respectfully submitted,

Corl W. Leach
FAA Certificated Flight Instructor,
FAASafetyTeam Representative
Rocklin, California
cc: The Honorable Ted Gaines
The Honorable Sam Aanestad

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