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ARSA Asks FAA to Clarify Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules — Again

On January 15, ARSA requested clarification from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Chief Counsel regarding applicability of the drug and alcohol testing rules to persons performing alterations. The association’s main point was that an alteration, by itself, is not maintenance or preventive maintenance and therefore is not a safety-sensitive function under the rules.

Although at first glance that concept may appear simple, the FAA got it wrong in denying a request for exemption filed by the Association in February 2009. In that denial, the FAA considered alterations a safety-sensitive function because an alteration may be related to an overall maintenance activity.

As ARSA pointed out, that rationale – that an activity is automatically a safety-sensitive function if it in any way relates to an overall repair – is not only inconsistent with a plain reading of the rules, but is also directly at odds with the reasoning of an existing Chief Counsel opinion. The earlier FAA position made it clear that the scope of the drug and alcohol testing rules is very narrow and does not encompass non-maintenance activity merely because it relates to an overall repair.



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