Small lodges in remote regions of Alaska cater to hunters and fishermen. These lodges provide food and shelter, guide services, and air transportation to and from the lodge and on side trips, all for a flat fee. Hunting and fishing guides employed by the lodges often pilot light aircraft as part of their guiding service. Beginning in 1963, the Federal Aviation Administration, through its Alaskan Region office, consistently advised guide pilots that they were not governed by FAA regulations dealing with commercial pilots. This advice stemmed from a 1963 Civil Aeronautics Board decision in a case in which the FAA had attempted to sanction a guide pilot who had not complied with FAA regulations applicable to commercial pilots. The Civil Aeronautics Board concluded that the guide pilot's flight with a hunter was merely incidental to the guiding business, that the guide pilot was not a commercial pilot, and that the FAA's commercial pilot regulations therefore did not apply. During the 1990s, officials at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., began expressing concern about the safety of guide pilots and their passengers. In 1998, the FAA published an announcement that was aimed at guide pilots. This announcement stated that guide pilots must abide by all FAA regulations applicable to commercial pilots. In a petition for judicial review of this FAA action, the Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA) attacked the validity of the announcement and the new rule it purported to adopt. APHA contended that because the FAA sought to adopt a rule that was contrary to the long-standing interpretation of the FAA's regulations and contrary to the expectations of the guide pilots and the lodges for which they worked, the FAA at a minimum needed to follow the "notice and comment" (informal rulemaking) procedure before adopting a new rule. Simply announcing the new rule, APHA argued, was improper. Was APHA's contention correct?
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