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ARSA, Industry Allies Seek Objective Criteria for Operations Specifications

On April 13, a coalition of aviation industry organizations delivered a letter to the FAA seeking objective criteria for adding and reviewing paragraphs to any certificate holder’s operations specifications.

The letter was coordinated by ARSA and sent to Flight Standards Service Executive Director John Duncan. It described a series of issues related to the government’s failure to differentiate between air carrier and air agency certificates in applying operations specifications paragraphs. The signatories noted that the agency lacks defined standards for the working group advising on promulgation of these paragraphs under 14 CFR part 119, which includes air carriers and commercial operators, but does not seek any kind of industry input from repair stations or other air agency certificate holders.

The timing of the group’s submission takes advantage of language in this year’s omnibus appropriations bill signed into law in March. The legislation included a provision restricting the FAA from promulgating any operations specification, policy or guidance that imposes more burdensome restrictions than those defined in the rules. The letter was delivered “to assist the agency in complying with the congressional mandate.”

Specifically, the letter suggests the agency establish a committee of government and industry personnel that would review the FAA’s management of operations specifications for every type of certificate holder. The regulatory experts on the new body would establish criteria for promulgation of new paragraphs and review existing ones to ensure currency and consistency with specified regulations.

“The legislative language was a helpful reference for encouraging the agency to act,” said ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod, noting how the provision in the spending bill coincided with an already-developing effort to address the issues outlined in the letter. “The truth is that the regulators shouldn’t need Congress to tell them to apply objective standards. Regardless of what the law says, the FAA can and should coordinate with the industry to make sense of how it applies operations specifications paragraphs.”

To read the full letter, click here.

In addition to ARSA, the letter was signed by:

Aircraft Electronics Association
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Airlines for America
Aviation Suppliers Association
Aviation Technician Education Council
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Helicopter Association International
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transportation Association
Regional Airline Association
The Boeing Company
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation
MOOG Aircraft Group

Previously on OpSpecs...

1/17/13 - FAA Rulemaking Committee Recommends OpSpecs Clarity

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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