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ARSA, Allies Take Voluntary Surrender Fight to Congress

On June 18, an ARSA-led coalition of aviation interests asked Congress to direct the FAA to reinstate the right of a repair station to voluntarily surrender its certificate.

In its November 2014 updates to 14 CFR part 145, the FAA took the unprecedented step of subjecting surrendered repair station certificates to “acceptance for cancellation” (see, § 145.55). ARSA led an effort calling for the removal of the requirement, since it is unique among aviation certificates, runs counter to the interest of aviation safety and increases regulatory administrative burden without any agency explanation as to how its discretion will be utilized. The initial petition was denied by the FAA and a subsequent request for reconsideration remains unaddressed.

As the FAA reauthorization process gets moving, the “fight to surrender” moves to Capitol Hill. Six aviation-centric trade associations signed a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate transportation committees and their aviation subcommittees. The signatories, all of which supported the two 2015 petitions to the agency on the same topic, explained that the requirement does not connect to the facts of aviation safety.

“[The] requirement for affirmative agency acceptance of a surrendered certificate runs counter to that purpose [of furthering the interest of safety],” the letter said, noting the agency’s rationale that voluntary surrender is a loophole through which supposed “ad actors” could escape enforcement action. “Where there are in fact ‘bad actors,’ the agency’s aim is the immediate cessation of work on civil aviation articles. By requiring the agency to accept surrender, the certificate remains effective longer and work (or operations) may continue to jeopardize safety.”

The letter proposed specific language to be included in the FAA reauthorization bill. The proposal directs the FAA to undertake rulemaking that would eliminate the words “and the FAA accepts it for cancellation” from § 145.55(a).

To read the full letter, click here.

In addition to ARSA, the letter was signed by the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association, the National Air Carrier Association and the National Air Transportation Association.

Previously from ARSA

7/14/15 - FAA on Voluntary Surrender - A Bad Rule to Pursue Bad Actors

8/31/15 - Industry Still Fighting for Right to Surrender

August 31, 2015

On Aug. 31, a coalition of aviation trade associations continued its efforts to reinstate the right of repair stations to voluntarily surrender their certificates. After first calling in January for the removal of the requirement for the FAA to “[accept] for cancellation” surrendered certificates, the groups have returned to the effort in response to the agency’s July 13 denial of that original petition.

“Bad policy cannot justify bad rulemaking,” the petition extolled, noting the agency’s misinterpretation of its legal authority to issue, modify, amend and revoke certificates. In zealous pursuit of “bad actors” and misplaced fear that a surrendered certificate could equate to an escape clause for persons under investigation, the agency has promulgated a bad rule.

In response, the association and its allies will continue to pursue guaranteed rights for all certificate holders. In addition to ARSA, the Aug. 31 petition for reconsideration was supported by the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aviation Suppliers Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association, the National Air Carrier Association and the National Air Transportation Association.

To read the petition, click here.

July 14, 2015

On July 13, the FAA denied the industry’s rulemaking petition to reinstate a repair station’s right to voluntarily surrender its certificate.

In its new repair station rule, which became effective in November 2014, the FAA took the unprecedented step of subjecting surrendered certificates to “acceptance for cancellation” (see, § 145.55). A coalition of ten aviation industry members, led by ARSA, called for the removal of the requirement, since it is unique among aviation certificates, runs counter to the interest of aviation safety and increases regulatory administrative burden without any agency explanation as to how its discretion will be utilized.

In the petition, the industry noted the FAA’s ability to investigate individuals is unaffected by the surrender of the entity’s certificate. Therefore, denying a repair station’s right to voluntarily surrender its certificate bears no rational connection to the aim of ensuring safety through the investigation and banishment of “bad actors.”

The agency’s response ignored facts and simply re-stated the new rule’s preamble: investigators must prevent the surrender of a certificate so that enforcement action can possibly be taken. The FAA rejected the logic that its updates to § 145.51 allow the agency to refuse new applications if individuals involved materially contributed to circumstances where a repair station certificate was “revoked, or [was] in the process of bring revoked.”

Though § 145.51 empowers the FAA to protect aviation safety by denying the issuance of new certificates to “bad actors,” the agency continues to insist on its ability to deny the right of surrender to existing repair stations.

Additionally, the response completely ignored the coalition’s concern that disparate treatment – denying rights to repair station certificate holders but granting them to the rest of the aviation community – creates uncertainty for the entire industry.

On behalf of its members and the larger aviation world, ARSA cannot accept an incomplete and uncooperative response in this matter. Stay tuned as the association continues to pursue guaranteed rights for all certificate holders.

1/12/15 - Industry to FAA: Repair Stations Know When to Fold ‘Em

January 12, 2015

On Jan. 9, a coalition of aviation trade associations petitioned the FAA to restore the right to voluntarily surrender a repair station certificate.

In its new repair station rule, which became effective in November 2014, the FAA took the unprecedented step of subjecting surrendered certificates to “acceptance for cancellation.” The coalition called for the removal of this requirement, which is unique among aviation certificates, runs counter to the interest of aviation safety and increases regulatory administrative burden without any agency explanation as to how the new discretion will be utilized.

“It is critical for any aviation business to be able to voluntarily surrender its certificate,” said Laura Vlieg, ARSA’s regulatory affairs manager . “The FAA has set a dangerous precedent by treating maintenance providers differently from any other certificate holder. The aviation community quickly realized the implications and has asked the agency to put repair stations back on equal footing.”

The group points out that the FAA’s ability to investigate individuals is unaffected by the surrender of the entity’s certificate. Therefore, denying a repair station’s right to voluntarily surrender its certificate bears no rational connection to the aim of ensuring safety through the investigation and banishment of “bad actors.”

“We do not support individuals that use any certificate irresponsibly or in a manner that jeopardizes safety,” said Sarah MacLeod, ARSA’s executive director. “We do however have to deal in the real world; business demands make it too problematic for surrendered certificates to depend on the administrative whims of the FAA.”

In addition to ARSA, the group included the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aviation Suppliers Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association, the National Air Carrier Association, the National Air Transportation Association and the Regional Airline Association.

To see all the ways ARSA is working as the voice of the aviation maintenance industry, visit the ARSA Works page.



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