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ARSA Testifies Before House Aviation Subcommittee

Washington, D.C.- The vital role of contract maintenance in aviation safety and efficiency was the focal point for the House of Representatives’ Aviation Subcommittee on Thursday, March 29, 2007. The subcommittee hearing, “The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Oversight of Outsourced Air Carrier Maintenance,” addressed the rising profile of the international contract maintenance industry and its direct contribution to safer skies and economic strength.

Mr. Marshall S. Filler, managing director and general counsel of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, testified as a witness before the subcommittee.

Filler’s testimony focused on issues facing the over 4,000 domestic repair stations in the United States and the almost 700 FAA-certificated repair stations located abroad. The role of foreign repair stations has been of particular import to the subcommittee, given that 2007 is a reauthorization year for the FAA.

“Foreign repair stations are an essential part of aviation,” Filler stated. While some organizations have questioned the safety oversight of foreign repair stations, Filler cited, among other data, a 2005 ARSA member survey that revealed the average FAA-certificated foreign repair station is audited more than 74 times annually by government inspectors, business interests, and other third-parties.

Mr. Filler also drew attention to the robust safety record of the aviation industry, which increasingly relies on independent contract maintenance and alteration services. He further emphasized the need to not look at single tragedies as indicative of the safety record of the industry as a whole. In the past ten years, network carriers have increased their reliance on contract maintenance from 37% to 53%. It is no small coincidence that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that civil aviation safety continued its trend of improving safety numbers in 2006, with general aviation posting its best safety record in the 40 years of NTSB data tracking.

The relationship with the FAA was an important aspect of Mr. Filler’s testimony, as he stressed how the FAA can continue its successful oversight of repair stations. Mr. Filler recommended the greater incorporation of airline “approved vendor lists” into the oversight process to ensure that relevant repair station data is easily accessible to FAA inspectors.

The ARSA testimony in its entirety may be read here.



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