Mx Reg Log

FAA Extension 19
The long-running saga of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization has still not concluded. The U.S. House and Senate bills contain major differences, one of which faces a presidential veto threat. That item is the House bill’s reversal of a 2010 National Mediation Board decision making it easier for airline employees to unionize. In April an amendment to kill that language failed. In late May the House passed the 19th short-term extension of the FAA law, providing funding through June 30. Both Senate and House bills also mandate that Part 145 repair station employees performing safety- sensitive maintenance functions for Part 121 carriers undergo drug and alcohol (D&A) testing consistent with the laws of the host country. The House version, last session, would have imposed testing without regard to other nations’ laws.
Fuel Tank Inerting Review
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was expected to respond to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in May on which, if any, regulations DOT will review in the wake of Executive Order 13563 of Jan. 18, 2011. That order called for agencies to submit plans for periodic reviews of existing regulations to determine whether any rules should be “modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed.” In a letter to DOT dated March 3, the Air Transport Association (ATA) suggested the Federal Aviation Administration’s fuel tank inerting rule as a candidate for review. ATA argues that the rule has become redundant, based on the more than 200 airworthiness directives (ADs) that FAA has issued on the subject. ATA also estimates the cost for aircraft retrofits at $1 billion by 2017.
FAA Foreign Repair Station Certification Ban
The effective ban on the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of new foreign repair stations is the unintended consequence of the Transportation Security Administration’s failure to issue security regulations for foreign and domestic repair stations, as required by the 2003 FAA reauthorization law. In late 2009 TSA finally issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The comment period ended last year and the final rule, expected soon, could pave the way to rolling back the ban.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Impasse
A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration rule, finalized in 2006, requires non-certified repair shops doing business with certified repair stations nevertheless to be subject to drug and alcohol testing requirements. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) litigated successfully to force FAA to analyze the economic ramifications of the rule on small businesses, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, but FAA has been slow to respond. As of this writing, the agency has been ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to file regular status reports.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on March 17 announced the withdrawal of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that would have required Part 145 certificate holders, as well as air carriers and aircraft design and manufacturing organizations, to develop safety management systems (SMS). FAA cited a legislative mandate to issue a final SMS rule for Part 121 carriers by July 2012 as the reason for its action. However, the proposed Part 121 SMS rule states that the agency “developed these general requirements with the intent that in the future they could be applied to Part 135 operators, Part 145 repair stations and Part 21 aircraft design and manufacturing organizations.” The Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA) has expressed concerns that SMS requirements could be “flowed down” to parts manufacturer approval (PMA) manufacturers before FAA even gets around to it. In its comment on the NPRM, MARPA argues that FAA has underestimated the costs of the rule, that suppliers could be roped in without a formal requirement and that there may be alternative means to reach the FAA’s goal.
BASA MAG, Good News
The recently signed U.S./European Union Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) contains a Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) which allows the Federal Aviation Administration to perform European Aviation Safety Agency audits for U.S. repair stations and vice versa. So far this has been welcomed as a practical, cost-saving measure.

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