Every several years, Congress is supposed to enact legislation to authorize funding and set policy priorities for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA authorization, Vision-100, became law in 2003 and expired in 2007. Since its expiration, lawmakers have failed to enact a reauthorization bill for the agency; consequently, the FAA has been operating under a series of short term extensions.
ARSA believes that passage of a long-term FAA bill is important to restore certainty to the aviation industry. However, it is critical that Congress avoid micromanagement of aviation maintenance and minimize unintended consequences. If not, our industry will suffer the consequences.
As a current net importer of aviation maintenance services, North America enjoys a $ 2.4 billion dollar positive balance of trade in this area. Additionally, with a substantial presence in every state, the maintenance repair and overhaul market contributes $39 billion annually to the American economy and employs more than 274,000 workers.
The 112th Congress has gotten off to a rapid start on FAA reauthorization. Fortunately, for those of us in the aviation maintenance industry, many of the legislative threats from years past have not appeared on the radar this year.
In fact, ARSA has endorsed the maintenance provisions in the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658), as passed by the House. This legislation is a major improvement of the FAA bill passed by the House during the last Congress that would have added new layers of bureaucratic oversight, increased costs for repair stations, and threatened the system of bilateral aviation safety agreements (BASA) that allow U.S. aviation maintenance companies to compete internationally.
H.R. 658 strikes the right balance between safety, oversight, and a repair station’s ability to remain economically competitive and viable. The legislation establishes a risk based safety assessment system for foreign repair station inspections and allows for drug and alcohol testing consistent with the laws of the country where the maintenance facility is located. It also ensures effective oversight of non-certificated maintenance without having unintended consequences that would undermine the efficiency of the maintenance and manufacturing process.
In addition to the House bill, the Senate has passed FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (S. 223). While similar to the House bill in some respects, it contains several important differences.
S.223 would mandate biannual FAA safety inspections of part 145 repair stations, regardless of where the station is located, in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements. It also undermines the efficiency of the maintenance industry by creating inconsistencies with the countless regulations that already govern non-certificated maintenance providers.
As the House and Senate continue to work on FAA reauthorization, ARSA will work with lawmakers to urge adoption of the House repair station and non certificated maintenance provisions.
The association will also continue to watch for and vigorously oppose any efforts that would inhibit international maintenance of U.S.-registered aircraft and related components, undermine international aviation agreements, or threaten the economic vitality of the aviation maintenance industry.
Be sure to take action using the links to the left to let your lawmakers know about the importance of the civil aviation maintenance industry and encourage their support for H.R. 658. For the latest information on the FAA Reauthorization debate visit, www.arsa.org.