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GAO Again Misunderstands Foreign Repair Station Oversight

On July 28, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report reviewing the FAA’s oversight of foreign repair stations at the request of House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and House Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.).

Unfortunately, Aviation Safety: FAA’s Risk-Based Oversight for Repair Stations Could Benefit from Additional Airline Data and Performance Metrics (GAO-16-679), is yet another attempt to scrutinize part 145 certificate holders located outside the United States to support false safety arguments (often leading to hostile legislation and ultimately unnecessary regulations).  Similar to past reports, the GAO once again alleged deficiencies in the FAA’s foreign repair station oversight, but didn’t find any specific violations or safety issues with contract maintenance providers.

Specifically, the GAO found that FAA inspectors were often unable to conduct unannounced inspections at foreign repair stations. ARSA has continually reminded lawmakers that international sovereignty prevents U.S. government officials from conducting “surprise” inspections (similar to “foreign” officials entering the United States without notice to the government). Furthermore, repair stations worldwide are safe and effective because good safety is good business, and no amount of “notice” will allow a maintenance provider to suddenly become compliant to satisfy an inspector. Non-compliance with safety regulations will be evident regardless of advance notice of a government inspection.

The GAO also specified that more data collection is required on the volume of work being done at these facilities in order to determine risk. It failed to connect the dots between global aviation safety, aircraft maintenance and the effort to build a truly “risk based” system. For contract maintenance providers and their customers, the reality is simple: Risk is not about volume of work, it’s about the type of work. Collecting more data may be useful, but only if the system is comprehensive enough to focus on the actual maintenance performed.

The report demonstrates that government auditors still fail to grasp the realities of the global aviation maintenance industry. While that is frustrating for business, to ARSA it is another opportunity to illustrate for the GAO, the Department of Transportation, the White House and even some stubborn members of Congress that they cannot fly safely without us.

For a GAO provided “highlight” document visit:  www.gao.gov/assets/680/678736.pdf

Previously from ARSA...

7/28/16 - GAO Releases Report on Foreign Repair Station Oversight

July 28, 2016

On July 28, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report requested by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and House Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) reviewing the FAA’s oversight of foreign repair stations.

Specifically, in Aviation Safety: FAA’s Risk-Based Oversight for Repair Stations Could Benefit from Additional Airline Data and Performance Metrics (GAO-16-679), the GAO assessed:

(1) Trends and factors influencing airline maintenance contracting from 2010 through 2014.
(2) How FAA’s oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations differs and associated challenges.
(3) Efforts taken by FAA to improve its risk-based oversight.

Members of ARSA’s regulatory team were interviewed by the GAO during its research process. The association will remain engaged now that the 60-page report has been released.

For a GAO provided “highlight” document visit:  www.gao.gov/assets/680/678736.pdf.

 



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