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New DCT Notice Without New DCT Policy

On Feb. 22, the FAA issued Notice 8900.503, Policy Change for Applicants/Certificate Holders Submitting Information Using the SAS External Portal and Data Collection Tools (DCTs).

The Notice was issued because Notice 8900.451 (see below) with the same title expired on Feb. 20, 2019. The new Notice, which expires on Feb. 22, 2020, is substantially the same as the original and reiterated that the use of the SAS External Portal and DCTs remain voluntary.

FAA Lifts DCT Burden from Industry

February 23, 2018

On Feb. 20, FAA Notice 8900.451 became effective, setting the policy for completing data collection tools (DCTs) associated with the agency’s Safety Assurance System (SAS). The notice states that applicants and certificate holders shall not be required to complete any component of the DCTs until the FAA Flight Standards Service obtains approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The policy update was issued in response to ARSA’s Feb. 1 letter on the subject. Citing the common practice of aviation safety inspectors requiring applicants and certificate holders to answer the DCTs’ numerous questions, the association highlighted the Paperwork Reduction Act’s (PRA) prohibition against federal agency information collection without OMB approval. Considering the substantial time and expense demanded, the association’s letter reminded the FAA of its statutory obligations.

“We recognize that the agency has instituted the SAS to implement a risk-based approach to its safety oversight responsibilities,” the letter said, noting the demand placed on the FAA by Congress as well as executive branch auditors to implement reasonable safety oversight with limited resources. “However, those pressures do not relieve the agency of its obligations under the laws passed by Congress; particularly those that reduce the burdens on small businesses.”

Notice 8900.451 acknowledges that the PRA applies to all Federal agencies and that the FAA must seek OMB approval “regardless of whether the collection is mandatory, voluntary, or required to obtain or retain a benefit”. Ironically, the document then states that “use of the external portal to collect [listed information] will be voluntary.” Finally, the policy attempts to make clear that the DCTs, “are intended for inspector use only and should not be given to the certificate holder to complete.”

“Regardless whether the agency obtains OMB approval, we expect to see some fundamental changes,” said ARSA Managing Director & General Counsel Marshall S. Filler, who signed the Feb. 1 letter. “As currently constituted we find it hard to believe the OMB would countenance a paperwork burden of the magnitude dropped on applicants and certificate holders under the current DCTs.”

To read the notice, click here. To read ARSA’s Feb. 1 letter,click here.

Any ARSA member that is told by an inspector to complete any portion of a DCT should contact the association immediately.

Editor’s Note: On Aug. 28, 2018, the agency sent ARSA a letter confirming the information provided in this update. The letter can be viewed by clicking here. For the sake of the record, the posting date of this update has not been altered despite this later addition.

Previous DCT-related content...

2/1/18 - ARSA Requests FAA Halt Unapproved Data Collection

February 1, 2018

On Feb. 1, ARSA requested the FAA immediately cease requiring air carrier and repair station applicants and certificate holders to complete the data collection tools (DCTs) associated with the agency’s Safety Assurance System (SAS).

ARSA’s letter highlights the Paperwork Reduction Act’s prohibition against federal agency information collection without approval from the Office of Management and Budget. The law restricts government entities from calling for “answers to questions posed to, or identical reporting or recordkeeping requirements imposed on, ten or more persons, other than agencies, instrumentalities, or employees of the United States.”

According to the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS), DCTs are to be used by aviation safety inspectors to assess the design and system performance of an applicant or certificate holder under parts 121, 135 and 145. DCTs are composed of numerous questions gathering information at the system, subsystem or element level organized according to the six safety attributes identified by the agency.

The letter describes how inspectors gather this information by providing the DCTs to the company and requiring the applicant or certificate holder to answer the questions. Considering the substantial time and expense demanded by this requirement, ARSA reminded the FAA of its statutory obligations.

“We recognize that the agency has instituted the SAS to implement a risk-based approach to its safety oversight responsibilities,” the letter said, noting the demand placed on the FAA by Congress as well as executive branch auditors to implement reasonable safety oversight with limited resources. “However, those pressures do not relieve the agency of its obligations under the laws passed by Congress; particularly those that reduce the burdens on small businesses.”

On behalf of the majority small-business community of FAA-certificated repair stations – in  addition to many other resource-constrained aviation stakeholders – the association requested the FAA stop requiring completion of DCTs by the public until proper OMB approval is obtained.

To read the full letter, click here.



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