A N A C T
RELATING TO AERONAUTICS -- UNIFORM AERONAUTICAL REGULATORY ACT
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 1-1-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 1-1 entitled "Airports Division -- Aeronautics Advisory Board" is hereby repealed in its entirety.
1-1-1. Assistant director for airports. -- Within the department of transportation there shall be an assistant director for airports who is qualified in aeronautics. The assistant director and shall be appointed by the director, with the approval of the governor, and in accord with the requirements of the state merit system act, chapter 4 of title 36. The assistant director for airports shall exercise the powers and duties of the department and director relating to aeronautics. The assistant director shall devote his or her entire time to the duties of his or her office as required and prescribed by this title and shall not be actively engaged or employed in any other profession or business while holding the office of assistant director.
SECTION 2. Sections 1-2-1, 1-2-2, 1-2-11, 1-2-15 and 1-2-16 of the General Laws in Chapter 1-2 entitled "Airports and Landing Fields" are hereby amended to read as follows:
Powers of director of transportation. -- Powers of the director of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. -- (a) The director of transportation has supervision over the state airport at Warwick and any other airports constructed or operated by the state. The director shall enforce the provisions of this chapter. Furthermore, the director is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations for the safe and efficient operation of airports, airport facilities, and grounds.
(b) As used in this chapter:
(1) "Airport corporation" means the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
(2) "Director" means the executive director of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
1-2-2. Conferring with persons versed in aviation -- Co-operation with federal agencies -- Employment of assistants. -- The director
of transportation is authorized to confer with persons versed in aviation, to cooperate with the various United States government agencies interested in aviation, and to employ and discharge at his or her pleasure engineers, architects, and other assistants as he or she may deem advisable and fix their compensation within the amounts appropriated for their compensation, subject however to the approval of the director of administration.
Interest of department employees prohibited. --Interest of airport corporation employees prohibited. -- No member employee of the department of transportation airport corporation shall have any financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any of the land or any estate or interest in land acquired by the state pursuant to section1-2-3, or in any contract or undertaking relating to the construction or equipment of a state airport, or in the laying out of its grounds.
1-2-15. Leasing for purposes of national defense. -- The
department of transportation airport corporation may lease to the United States government or agencies of the United States government, when the lease concerns matters of national defense or aviation safety or convenience, any portion of any airport or landing field or any of the buildings or structures on the airport or landing field for a period or periods not to exceed fifty (50) years; the lease to be executed by the director containing any reasonable conditions, rules, restrictions and regulations as the assistant director for airports deems suitable or necessary and be approved as to substance by the director of administration and as to form by the attorney general.
1-2-16. Noise and emissions directives. -- The director
of the department of transportation is directed to issue operating procedures and directives requiring that aircraft utilizing Theodore Francis Green state airport, to the greatest extent possible, commensurate with passenger safety and federal law and regulation, minimize the use of reverse engine thrust employed to slow an aircraft as it lands.
SECTION 3. Sections 1-4-2, 1-4-3, 1-4-6, 1-4-8, 1-4-9, 1-4-13, 1-4-14 and 1-4-15 of the General Laws in Chapter 1-4 entitled "Uniform Aeronautical Regulatory Act" are hereby amended to read as follows:
1-4-2. Definitions. -- When used in this chapter:
(1) "Aeronautics" means transportation by aircraft, air instruction, the operation, repair, or maintenance of aircraft, and the design, operation, repair, or maintenance of airports, landing fields, or other air navigation facilities.
(2) "Aircraft" means any contrivance now known or invented, used, or designed for navigation of, or flight in, the air, except a parachute or other contrivance designed for air navigation but used primarily as safety equipment.
(3) "Air instruction" means the imparting of aeronautical information by any aviation instructor or in any air school or flying club.
(4) "Airport" means any area of land, water, or both, which is used or is made available for the landing and take off of aircraft, and which provides facilities for the shelter, supply, and repair of aircraft and which, as to size, design, surface, marking, equipment, and management meets the minimum requirements established from time to time by the director.
(5) "Air school" means any person engaged in giving, offering to give, or advertising, representing, or holding himself or herself out as giving, with or without compensation or other award, instruction in aeronautics -- in flying, in ground subjects, or in both.
(6) "Assistant director" means the assistant director for airports established by section 1-1-1.
(7) (6) "Aviation instructor" means any individual engaged in giving, or offering to give, instruction in aeronautics -- in flying, in ground subjects, or in both -- either with or without compensation or other reward, without advertising his or her occupation, without calling his or her facilities "air school" or any equivalent term, and without employing or using other instructors.
(8) (7) "Certificated aircraft" means any aircraft for which an aircraft certificate other than a registration certificate has been issued by the government of the United States.
(8) "Chief aeronautics inspector" or "aeronautics inspector" means an employee of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, as defined in the Rhode Island Airport Corporation personnel job description manual who is charged by the director to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
(9) "Civil aircraft" means any aircraft other than a public aircraft.
(10) "Dealer in aircraft" or "aircraft dealer" means any person who engages in a business, a substantial part of which consists of the manufacture, selling, or exchanging of aircraft and who is registered as a dealer with the federal government.
(11) "Director" means the executive director of
transportation. the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. "Deputy director" means the deputy director of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
(12) "Flying club" means any person (other than an individual) who, neither for profit nor reward, owns, leases, or uses one or more aircraft for the purpose of instruction, pleasure, or both.
(13) "Landing field" means any area of land, water, or both, which is used or is made available for the landing and take off of aircraft, which may or may not provide facilities for the shelter, supply, and repair of aircraft, and which, as to size, design, surface, marking, equipment, and management meets the minimum requirements established from time to time by the director.
(14) "Military aircraft" means public aircraft operated in the service of the United States army, air force, national guard, navy, marine corps or coast guard.
(15) "Operate" means, with respect to aircraft, to use, cause to use or authorize to use an aircraft, for the purpose of engine start, movement on the ground (taxi), or air navigation including the piloting of aircraft, with or without the right of legal control (as owner, lessee, or otherwise).
(16) "Operator" means a person who operates or is in actual physical control of an aircraft.
(17) "Owner" means the legal title holder or any person, firm, copartnership, association or corporation having the lawful possession or control of an aircraft under a written sale agreement.
(15) (18) "Person" means any individual, or any corporation or other association of individuals.
(19) "Political subdivision" means any city or town or any other public corporation, authority or district, or any combination of two (2) or more, which is, or may be authorized by law to acquire, establish, construct, maintain, improve and operate airports.
(16)(20) "Public aircraft" means an aircraft used exclusively in the governmental service.
1-4-3. Liability of owner for injuries caused by aircraft. -- Whenever any aircraft is used, operated, or caused to be operated in this state and an action is begun to recover damages for injuries arising to the person or to the property or for the death of a person, arising out of an accident or collision in which that aircraft was involved, or arising out of an accident caused by the dropping or falling of any object from that aircraft, evidence that at the time of the accident or collision it was registered in the name of the defendant as owner is prima facie evidence that it was then being operated by and under the control of a person for whose conduct the defendant was wholly responsible, and absence of that responsibility is an affirmative defense to be set up in the answer and proved by the defendant.
; and for the purposes of this chapter, the term "owner" includes the legal title holder and any person, firm, copartnership, association or corporation having the lawful possession or control of an aircraft under a written sale agreement.
1-4-6. State registration of federal certificates. -- (a) All owners and operators, or owners or operators, of all aircraft, and dealers in aircraft, shall register the federal certificates of their aircraft and dealer registration as the
assistant director may by regulation prescribe. Nonresidents may operate noncommercially within this state as an owner and operator, or owner or operator, or as a dealer, without that registration for not more than ten (10) consecutive days in any calendar year. To operate commercially intrastate, nonresidents shall register.
(b) Subject to the limitations of subsections (d) and (f), every person who operates an aircraft shall register the federal aircraft certificate of that aircraft with the
assistant director chief aeronautics inspector during each period in which the aircraft is operated within this state in accordance with subsection (a). The annual fee for each registration, and for each registration renewal, is as follows: Aircraft weighing less than two thousand (2,000) pounds, thirty dollars ($30.00); two thousand and one (2,001) to three thousand (3,000) pounds, sixty dollars ($60.00); three thousand and one (3,001) to four thousand five hundred (4,500) pounds, one hundred ten dollars ($110); four thousand five hundred and one (4,501) to twelve thousand five hundred (12,500) pounds, one hundred sixty dollars ($160); over twelve thousand five hundred pounds (12,500), two hundred fifty dollars ($250). For the purpose of the annual fee, the weight considered will be the gross weight as published by the manufacturer. Every person who is a dealer in aircraft shall register his or her federal dealer's aircraft registration certificate with the assistant director chief aeronautics inspector. The annual fee for registration of each federal dealer's aircraft registration certificate is fifty dollars ($50.00) and for each aircraft in the possession operated solely for the purpose of sale or demonstration is twenty-five dollars ($25.00). Any person who engages in a business, a substantial portion of which consists of the manufacturing, selling, or exchanging of aircraft, and who does not have a federal dealer's certificate shall register all aircraft owned by the person and operated within the state with the assistant director chief aeronautics inspector and pay the annual fee for that aircraft provided for in this subsection and is not eligible to pay the limited fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for all aircraft operated solely for the purpose of sale or demonstration.
(c) All fees are in lieu of all personal property taxes on aircraft authorized by any law or ordinance. Registration certificates issued after expiration of the first six (6) months of the annual registration period, as prescribed by the
assistant director, are issued at the rate of fifty percent (50%) of the annual fee.
(d) All fees are paid to the tax administrator of this state and delivery of the person's receipt to the
assistant director chief aeronautics inspector is a prerequisite to registration under this section.
(e) Possession of the appropriate effective federal certificate, permit, rating or license relating to ownership and airworthiness of the aircraft, and the payment of the appropriate fee as set forth in this section are the only requisites for registration of an aircraft, or a dealer in aircraft.
(f) Aircraft registration fees shall be reimbursed to persons who surrender their certificates before the date of expiration in accordance with the following schedule:
(1) Before the first six (6) months of the period, fifty percent (50%) of the fee;
(2) Before the first nine (9) months of the period, twenty-five percent (25%).
(g) The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1) An aircraft owned by, and used exclusively in the service of, any government, including the government of the United States or of any state of the United States, or political subdivision thereof, which is not engaged in carrying persons or property for commercial purposes;
(2) An aircraft registered under the laws of a foreign country;
(3) An aircraft owned by a nonresident and based in another state; or
(4) An aircraft engaged principally in federally certified scheduled airline operation.
1-4-8. Duties of director. -- It shall be the duty of the director to foster aeronautics within this state in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and for that purpose the director shall:
(1) Encourage the establishment of airports and other air navigation facilities;
(2) Make recommendations to the governor and the general assembly as to necessary legislation or action;
(3) Study the possibilities for the development of air commerce and the aeronautical industry and trade within the state and collect and disseminate information relative to the development; and
(4) Advise with the
civil aeronautics authority Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies of the federal government and with state authorities in carrying forward any research and development work the tends to increase and improve aeronautics within this state.
1-4-9. Jurisdiction of director. -- (a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, the director has supervision over aeronautics within the state, including:
(1) The establishment, location, maintenance, operation, and use of airports, landing fields, air markings, air beacons, and other air navigation facilities; and
(2) The establishment, operation, management, and equipment, of all air schools, flying clubs, and other persons giving air instruction.
(b) All proposed airports, landing fields, and other air navigation facilities, shall be first approved by the director before they are used or operated. A political subdivision or person proposing to establish, alter, activate or deactivate an airport or landing field shall make application to the chief aeronautics inspector, with a copy to the director, for a certificate of approval of the site selected and the general purpose or purposes for which the airport or landing field is to be established to insure that it shall conform to minimum standards or safety and shall serve public interest. A political subdivision or officer or employee, or any person shall not operate an airport, landing field, or other air navigation facility for which a certificate of approval has not been issued by the director.
(c) The director shall establish by rule and regulations in accordance with chapter 35 of title 42, guidelines for making application for a certificate of approval; criteria for determining whether to issue a certificate of approval and fees for processing such applications and each renewal thereof.
Reports of hearings and investigations as evidence -- Testimony by director and assistant director. --Reports of hearings and investigations as evidence -- Testimony by director, deputy director and aeronautics inspectors. -- The reports of investigations or hearings, or any part of the reports, shall not be admitted in evidence or used for any purpose in any suit, action, or proceeding growing out of any matter referred to in those investigations or hearings, or in any report, except in the case of criminal or other proceedings instituted by or on behalf of the director under the provisions of this chapter; nor shall the director or the assistant director for airports nor the deputy director, nor any aeronautics inspector be required to testify to any facts ascertained in, or information gained by reason of his or her official capacity. Neither the director nor the assistant director nor the deputy director, nor any aeronautics inspector for airports shall be required to testify as an expert witness in any suit, action, or proceeding involving any aircraft or any navigation facility.
1-4-14. Enforcement -- Co-operation of public agencies. -- (a) It is the duty of the director, deputy director, aeronautics inspectors and every state and municipal officer charged with the enforcement of state laws to enforce, and assist in the enforcement of this chapter. The director is further authorized in the name of the state to enforce the provisions of this chapter by appropriate proceedings in the superior courts of this state. Other departments and political subdivisions of this state are authorized to cooperate with the director in the development of aeronautics within this state.
assistant director, deputy director, aeronautics inspectors and selected employees of the division of airports Rhode Island Airport Corporation to whom such powers may be delegated in the discharge of the duties of their office, have, in any part of the state, the same authority to make arrests for violation of the statutes, laws, rules and regulations relating to aviation and airport security matters, and to enforce those statutes, laws, rules and regulations, as regular constituted law enforcement officers in the state.
assistant director shall issue to each selected employee credentials showing his or her authority to arrest, which credentials shall be carried upon the person of the designated employees while in the performance of their his or her duties.
1-4-15. Reasons for orders -- Closing of facilities -- Inspection powers. -- In any case where the director, pursuant to this chapter, issues any order requiring or prohibiting certain things to be done, the director shall set forth his or her reasons for the order and state the requirements to be met before approval is given or the rule, regulation, or order shall be modified or changed. In any case where the director deems the action necessary or proper, the director may order the closing of any airport or landing field, or the cessation of operations of any air school, flying club, air beacon, or other air navigation facility, until the requirements laid down by the director have been fulfilled. To carry out the provisions of this chapter, the director, deputy director, aeronautics inspectors and any officers, state or municipal, charged with the duty of enforcing this chapter, may inspect and examine, at reasonable hours, any premises, the aircraft and the buildings and other structures, where those airports, landing fields, air schools, flying clubs, air beacons, or other air navigation facilities are operated.
SECTION 4. Chapter 1-4 of the General Laws entitled "Uniform Aeronautical Regulatory Act" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
1-4-3.1. Notification and reporting of aircraft accidents. -- The operator of an aircraft involved in an accident or incident as defined in Part 830 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, hereinafter referred to as 49 CFR 830, shall immediately notify the chief aeronautics inspector. This notification shall be in addition to any duty to notify and provide a report to the National Transportation Safety Board under 49 CFR 830. Furthermore, the operator shall file with the chief aeronautics inspector a copy of any report filed with the National Transportation Safety Board, which shall be a public record.
1-4-10.1. Air Traffic Rules. -- (a) Negligent, careless or reckless operation. No person may operate an aircraft in a negligent, careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.
(b) Aerobatic flight: No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight -- (1) Over any congested or residential area of a city, town, or settlement; (2) Over an open air assembly of persons; (3) Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport, as defined in the Federal Aviation Regulations; (4) Within four (4) nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airways; (5) Below an altitude of one thousand five hundred (1,500) feet above the surface; or (6) When flight visibility is less than three (3) statute miles. For the purposes of this section, "aerobatic flight" means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight.
(c) Minimum safe altitudes: Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes: (1) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface; (2) Over a school, residential or congested area. Over any congested or residential area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of one thousand feet (1,000) feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of two thousand (2,000) feet of the aircraft; (3) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of five hundred (500) feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than five hundred (500) feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure; (4) Helicopters. Helicopters may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (2) or (3) of this section if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface. In addition, each person operating a helicopter shall comply with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
(d) If any provision of this section or the application thereof shall for any reason be judged invalid, such a judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of the section, but shall be confined in this effect to the provisions or application directly involved in the controversy giving rise to the judgment.
SECTION 5. Section 1-2-5 of the General Laws in Chapter 1-2 entitled "Airports and Landing Fields" is hereby repealed in its entirety.
1-2-5. Employment of airport personnel. -- For the state airport at Warwick, the director shall employ an airport manager and any other assistants to hold office at his or her pleasure, fix their duties and salaries within the amounts appropriated, and incur any other expenses that may be authorized by the general assembly within the amounts appropriated and in accordance with the requirements of the state merit system act, chapter 4 of title 36. With the same limitations, he or she may employ similar employees for each other airport that may be constructed or operated by the state.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon passage.