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FAA Rulemaking Committee Recommends OpSpecs Clarity

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, January 17, 2013 – Members of the Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (CRI ARC) have notified FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Margaret Gilligan of the group’s findings that changes and amendments to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Operations Specifications (OpSpecs) often serve as a proxy for rulemaking or regulation.

The CRI ARC closely studied OpSpecs language to develop an effective method for identifying, reviewing, and improving this essential regulatory and oversight tool.

“With the need for more efficiency in the administration of aviation safety compliance, we urge your attention to the methodology used to identify effective actions for improvement in this area,” the committee stated.

The CRI ARC noted that the proliferation of OpSpecs changes creates inconsistent application and confusion among operators. Due to this confusion, the committee recommends that FAA periodically review the reasons for each OpSpecs paragraph as well as:

  • Remove OpSpecs with redundant regulatory requirements, i.e., those that merely repeat regulatory language
  • Ensure that OpSepcs clearly delineate between—
    • A safety requirement that must be followed by the certificate holder (and can be appealed if disagreement surfaces); and
    • A data collection activity for FAA internal or external use, which is used as a convenient method of holding information, but is not “required to be followed” in the interest of safety.

“OpSpecs should not be used as proxies for rulemakings,” stated ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “Curtailing amendments and other changes to OpSpecs eliminates the potential for circumventing the rulemaking process and provides greater clarity. To this end, much like the CRI ARC recommendations issued late last year, we believe that less is more.”

The committee’s findings follow its November 2012 primary recommendations: the FAA should review all guidance documents and interpretations, identify and cancel outdated material, and cross-reference (electronically link) material to the applicable rule.

A link to the letter is available here.

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ARSA is an Alexandria, Virginia-based trade association that represents aviation maintenance and manufacturing companies. Founded in 1984, the association has a distinguished record of advocating for repair stations, providing regulatory compliance assistance to the industry, and representing repair stations on Capitol Hill and in the media.

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Josh Pudnos
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