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Regulatory “Logical Distinctions” in ARSA Amicus Brief

On Oct. 22, ARSA filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to support the “plain language of the minimum standards of the aviation safety regulations and the intent of those rules.”

The brief urged the court to reverse a National Transportation Safety Board Order revoking the repair station certificate of AeroBearings, L.L.C. The order alleged falsification of multiple maintenance releases based on incomplete information in block 12 of FAA Form 8130-3. During the original proceedings, the inspector agreed there was no false or incorrect information in this block on any of questioned forms; the entries were simply incomplete.

ARSA’s brief educates the court on the FAA’s “logical distinction between a complete maintenance record and a maintenance release (i.e., the approval for return to service [on FAA Form 8130-3]).” While information that should be included in a complete maintenance record had been omitted from the forms, its inclusion on those documents is not required by parts 43 or 145. Even more important, section 145.219(b), specifically requires repair stations to “provide a copy of the maintenance release to the owner or operator of the article on which the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration was performed.” Explaining the difference and noting the “voluminous” nature of complete maintenance records, ARSA explained that: “The agency understands and accepts that a maintenance release is not the complete record required by 14 CFR § 43.9.”

The original complaint against AeroBearings also questioned the use of specialized equipment for which the company did not possess the original engineering data. ARSA highlighted the difference between maintenance data – the “how to” instructions regarding the performance of work – and the data used in developing equipment or tooling.

“The regulations are silent as to what makes equipment ‘special’ or ‘acceptable to’ the agency; however, the equipment or tooling must operate in the same fashion and achieve the same results as that recommended by the manufacturer,” the association said. “Once the showing is made that the equipment or apparatus achieves the appropriate result, there are no regulations that require retention of the data or recording of the demonstration used to make the showing.”

Based on this plain reading of the rules, ARSA urged reversal of the NTSB’s order. The entire brief, which provides a thorough overview of the aviation regulatory structure regarding maintenance, preventive maintenance and alteration, can be accessed by clicking here.

AeroBearings was an ARSA member during the time period at issue in the Order, but the association did not participate in the legal enforcement process.

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