ARSA Engages FTC on Maintenance Manual Availability

The FAA’s inconsistent enforcement of maintenance manual threatens competition in the aviation aftermarket, ARSA told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a letter submitted April 29.

ARSA says its submission was made in conjunction with the FTC’s Nixing the Fix Initiative, the centerpiece of which is a July 16 meeting to examine ways in which manufacturers in various industries limit third-party repairs. Among other topics, the workshop will address issues that arise when a manufacturer restricts the ability of consumers or an independent repair shops to make product repairs.

ARSA told the FTC that the repair-restriction challenges faced by aviation repair stations are related to rules that require manufacturers to develop maintenance information and make it available. Specifically, the FAA fails to enforce the regulation requiring Design Approval Holders (DAHs) to develop basic maintenance information and thereafter make it available to maintenance providers (14 CFR § 21.50(b)), while aggressively enforcing the rule requiring repair stations to possess that same maintenance data (14 CFR § 145.109(d)).

ARSA says their comments were submitted in response to a call for empirical research and data about repair restrictions in advance of the July 16 meeting. ARSA’s letter provides an overview the maintenance manual regulatory framework, describes the challenges repair stations encounter when seeking maintenance data and cites various examples provided by ARSA members (redacted to remove any identifying information) in response to association surveys and to the Small Business Administration’s Small Business.