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The Daily Tar Heel

Flying Club Not Bound By New Recommendations

The Wings of Carolina Flying Club, formerly the Chapel Hill Flying Club, is one organization that does not have to abide by FAA regulations.

Club representatives have not yet decided whether they will implement the new FAA regulations.

Christopher White, director of public relations for the FAA's Southern Regional Headquarters, said an advisory issued Jan. 9 recommends an increase in supervision of student pilots by flight instructors.

The advisory was issued after a Jan. 5 incident in Tampa, Fla., in which a 15-year-old student pilot stole an airplane from a nearby flight school and intentionally crashed it into the 28th floor of a Tampa skyscraper.

Among the suggestions made in the document are having separate keys for aircraft ignitions and locks, limiting student access to such keys and establishing identification before every flight lesson.

Club President Stanley Munsat said the flying club has consistently followed safety standards that meet or exceed standards set forth by the FAA.

But Munsat said the club has no immediate plans to implement the FAA's new recommendations.

"We will look seriously at any FAA proposals to increase security," Munsat said.

The club, which is marked by the FAA as an independent organization, has about 50 student pilots trained by part- and full-time, FAA-certified professional flight instructors.

White said the FAA, which only has the power to regulate flight schools, chose to issue recommendations rather than new guidelines because the process of changing long-held policies would be lengthy and time-consuming.

Dick Knapinski, director of media and public relations for the National Association of Flight Instructors, said the association supports the FAA recommendations.

"We encourage flight schools to take (the suggestions) and adopt them for their own use," he said.

Knapinski added that the association is wary of putting its full support behind certain recommendations that he cited as not economically feasible for many flight schools.

Knapinski said he applauded the FAA for its actions over the past few months.

"Since September 11, the FAA has been at the forefront, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they've been doing," said Knapinski.

But Knapinski said the bottom line concerning flight schools is to continue to ensure the safe and secure operation of airplanes.

"We must make sure safety is maintained, security is maintained and safe, competent pilots can continue to be trained."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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