A BILL



To amend title 49, United States Code, to revise and clarify

the definition of "public aircraft."



  Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives

of the United States of America in Congress assembled,



     SECTION 1. AMENDMENT OF DEFINITION OF PUBLIC AIRCRAFT.



     Section 40102(a)(37) of title 49, United States Code,

is amended to read as follows:



          "(37) 'public aircraft' means an aircraft operated

     by or on behalf of the United States Government, a

     State, the District of Columbia, a territory or

     possession of the United States, or a political

     subdivision of one of these governments, but only when

     operated under the conditions specified by sections

     40125(b) or 40125(c) of this title, or as described in

     section 40125(d) of this title.".



     SEC. 2. QUALIFICATIONS FOR PUBLIC AIRCRAFT STATUS.



     (a) GENERAL- Chapter 401 is amended by adding at the

end the following:



"Sec. 40125. Qualifications for public aircraft status



     "(a) DEFINITIONS--In this section, the following

definitions apply:



          "(1) ARMED FORCES--The term 'armed forces' has the

     meaning given that term in title 10, section 101, and

     includes the reserve components of the armed forces and

     the National Guard of a state, territory, Puerto Rico,

     or the District of Columbia.

     

          "(2) COMMERCIAL PURPOSES--The term 'commercial

     purposes' means the transportation of persons or

     property for compensation or hire, but does not include

     the operation of an aircraft by a government under cost

     reimbursement required by federal law or a cost

     reimbursement agreement--

     

               "(A) to undertake an inherently governmental

          function that is so intimately related to the

          public interest as to mandate performance by the

          government and require either the exercise of

          discretion in applying government authority or the

          use of value judgment in making decisions for the

          government; or

          

               "(B) to undertake other governmental

          functions, but only when needed to respond to an

          imminent threat to life, property or natural

          resources, and no service by a private operator is

          reasonably available to meet the threat.

          

          "(3) GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION--The term 'governmental

     function' means an activity mandated by law or

     otherwise undertaken by a government requiring the use

     of an aircraft, such as national defense, intelligence

     missions, search and rescue, law enforcement (including

     transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens),

     security operations, fire fighting, natural resource

     and disaster management, transport of mission-related

     cargo, equipment development and demonstration,

     employee or contractor training, and space,

     aeronautical, atmospheric, geographic, or oceanographic

     research.

     

      "(4) QUALIFIED NON-CREWMEMBER--The term 'qualified non-

     crewmember' means an individual, other than a member of

     the crew,

     

               "(A) aboard an aircraft owned or operated by

          the armed forces or an intelligence agency of the

          United States Government; or

          

               "(B) whose presence is required for, or is

          associated with, the performance of the

          governmental function for which the aircraft is

          being operated.

          

     "(b) GENERAL.--An aircraft described in 40102(a)(37)

qualifies as a public aircraft except when it is used for

commercial purposes, used to carry an individual other than

a crewmember or a qualified non-crewmember, or not used

exclusively for the government.



     "(c) OPERATIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES.--An aircraft

described in 40102(a)(37) qualifies as a public aircraft if

it is--

     

          "(1) owned by the armed forces or operated by

     personnel of the armed forces in the performance of

     their duties; or

     

          "(2) chartered to provide transportation or other

     services to the armed forces, but only upon designation

     of the operation (made in writing to the Administrator

     of the Federal Aviation Administration) as required in

     the national interest by the Secretary of Defense or

     the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast

     Guard is operating.

     

     "(d) OPERATIONS FOR CREW TRAINING, EQUIPMENT

DEVELOPMENT, OR DEMONSTRATION.--An aircraft owned by the

United States Government and operated by any person for

purposes related to crew training, equipment development, or

demonstration qualifies as a public aircraft.".



     (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.--The analysis for chapter 401

is amended by adding at the end the following:



 "40125. Qualifications for public aircraft status.".



     SEC. 3. EXEMPTION OF GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS

           FROM STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS.



     (a) Section 40109(b) of title 49, United States Code,

is amended by--



          (1) striking "Safety regulation.--The" and

     substituting "Safety authority.--(1) The"; and

     

          (2) adding the following at the end:

     

     "(2) The Administrator may grant an exemption to a

government from a requirement of this Part, other than

subpart II, that would be applicable to aircraft operated by

or on behalf of the government if--



          "(A) granting the exemption is necessary to

     prevent an undue economic burden on the government; and

     

          "(B) the aviation safety program of the government

     ensures safe operation of the type of aircraft operated

     by the government.".

     

     (b) Section 3(b) of the "Independent Safety Board Act

Amendments of 1994" (Pub. L. 103-411; Oct. 25, 1994) is

repealed.