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FAA Unveils New Contract Maintenance Requirements

On Nov. 13, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the relationship between contract maintenance providers and air carriers that operate aircraft with 10 or more seats.

The proposal is a direct result of congressional action. Sec. 319 of the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012 (enacted on February 14, 2012) mandated the FAA to issue regulations regarding who may perform “covered work” on aircraft used to provide air transportation. ARSA aggressively lobbied Congress on the provision to ensure effective oversight of maintenance providers without undermining the efficiency of the industry.

The NPRM would require operators to develop policies, procedures, methods, and instructions for performing contract maintenance, and to include them in their maintenance manuals. This would ensure that operators are able to maintain consistent control and oversight over the maintenance of their aircraft. While the reauthorization law only referenced part 121 air carriers, the rulemaking would expand the same requirements to include part 135 operators of aircraft with 10 or more seats.

Recognizing that repair stations have faced difficulty gaining consistent access to the relevant portions of a carrier’s manual, the proposed regulation requires air carriers or commercial operators to provide the repair station performing work with the applicable portions of its maintenance manual. This remains consistent with the air carriers’ retaining primary responsibility for aircraft and supports the concept that the provider is an extension of the air carriers’ maintenance program when a repair station performs work.

The proposed rule would define “maintenance provider” to avoid the confusion between certificated and non-certificated personnel, and would define a maintenance provider as “any person who performs maintenance, preventive maintenance, or an alteration for a certificate holder other than a person who is trained by and employed directly by that certificate holder.”

Finally, the proposed rulemaking mandates that part 121 and 135 operators maintain a complete and comprehensive list of each party with which it contracts maintenance and a description of the work performed. Such a catalog is intended to help the FAA allocate oversight resources as appropriate, ensuring a risk based inspection regime that does not hinder repair station efficiency.

The Association will be closely reviewing the rule over the coming weeks to ensure that the proposal is free of any unintended consequences. These new regulations would take effect one year after the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

For a document comparing Sec. 319 of the FAA Modernization & Reform Act to the NPRM, please click here.

ARSA strongly encourages all repair stations to closely review the proposed regulations and submit comments before the February 11, 2013 deadline March 13, 2013.

 

~~ Updated 2/12/2013: New comment deadline ~~



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