ARSA RSS Feed ARSA LinkedIn
Ask ARSA Pay ARSA

How to Refocus FAA Guidance on the Rules

On Dec. 8, 2022, the working group tasked by the FAA through the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to review and reconcile U.S. repair station regulations and guidance delivered its final report. The committee voted unanimously to accept the report and deliver it to the agency.

The working group extensively analyzed the history of the FAA’s oversight of entities performing maintenance and alteration on civil aircraft. It found duplication, segregation, and conflict in compliance information for certificate holders. The single-source Civil Aeronautics Manuals that instructed both regulators and the public prior to 1962 – when the Civil Aeronautics Regulations were recodified under the FAA – were supplanted by a sprawling and complex system that drives government personnel towards proscriptive administration of performance-based rules.

“Since recodification, guidance material has increased from four to twenty volumes while education of the industry and agency workforce on the plain language of the regulation, its history, intent, and expected results has deteriorated,” the report said.

To reverse this trend and realign the rules and guidance, the working group made five recommendations:

(1) Adopt a single “Acceptable Means of Compliance” (AMC) document for part 145.
(2) Develop regulation-based training in conjunction with industry and make it available to all applicants, certificate holders, and inspectors.
(3) Amend the Data Collection Tools to differentiate between compliance elements and risk indicators.
(4) Update the air agency certificate application process to reflect the current requirements of part 145.
(5) Review operations specifications’ paragraphs included in air agency certificates given to repair stations to remove any that are not safety limitations.

The report included an effective structure for the AMC it recommended the agency adopt. It follows fundamental legal principals of regulatory construction, interpretation, and application to state the applicant or certificate holder’s responsibility to “show” compliance and agency’s charge with “finding” it.

“The AMC creates a transparent method of imparting information to applicants, certificate holders, agency personnel, and the public. It includes the language of the regulation, its scope or intent, an acceptable means of compliance for the applicant or certificate holder, how the agency handles the data it collects or is required to review, and additional explanations or background to help aid compliance, certification, and oversight,” the report said.

The working group requested ARAC:

(1) Adopt the final report and its recommendations.
(2) Further assign the working group to:

(a) Complete the AMC.
(b) Develop training to support the AMC.

The report was presented to ARAC during its December meeting by Working Group Co-Chairs Sarah MacLeod, ARSA executive director, and Ric Peri, Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) vice president of government & industry affairs. In his letter to the FAA delivering the report, ARAC Chair David Oord said: “I am confident that, once implemented, the results will markedly improve the agency’s guidance on the certification and oversight of Part 145 repair stations.”

To read the working group’s complete final report, click here.

To view the presentation used to deliver the report, click here.

To visit the ARAC webpage, click here.

Update: On Jan. 9, the FAA acknowledged receipt of the report. Click here to review the agency’s letter of acknowledgement.

To review previous updates related to the working group, including a list of organizations represented, review the content below.

Previous updates on ARAC's 145 task...

7/12/22 - Working Group Instructs FAA on Handling Multiple Locations

July 12, 2022

Last month, the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) accepted a special report on the ability of a repair station to work from multiple locations under a single quality system. The report responded to a special request from the FAA’s Flight Standards Office seeking recommendations on the topic. It was presented by ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod in her role as co-chair of ARAC’s Part 145 Working Group.

The working group reviewed scenarios in which repair stations choose either to (1) operate multiple locations under a single certificate and quality system or (2) request satellite repair station certificates for each location. The report instructs the FAA to adjust its documentation to better associate additional locations (removing the word “fixed”) or satellites with the repair station holding managerial control.

The special report introduces the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) document under development by the working group. The AMC provides a section-by-section review of the repair station rule, divided in five segments for each section:

Scope explains the requirements associated with the plain language of the section or paragraph.

Acceptable Means of Compliance provides guidance to applicants and the FAA on what is expected to establish compliance.

Guidance Material contains information necessary for the agency to process the application or request

Related Regulations lists the sections of the 14 CFR parts 43, 65, and 145 that related directly to the section being reviewed.

Additional Information explains the expectation of international aviation authorities, quality assurance and air carrier customer requirements, and the advantages of best practices (provided for reference, but a federal agency cannot demand certificate holders go beyond the plain language of a regulation).

The working group provides AMC content for §§ 145.51(a) and 145.53(a) for reference by the FAA on adjusting current guidance to accommodate applicants and certificate holders.

To review the complete special report, click here.

12/10/20 - Part 145 Working Group Preliminary Report

December 10, 2020

On Dec. 10, the working group tasked by the FAA through the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to review and reconcile U.S. repair station regulations and guidance delivered its preliminary report.

The report was presented to ARAC during its December meeting by Working Group Co-Chairs Sarah MacLeod, ARSA executive director, and Ric Peri, Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) vice president of government & industry affairs. The submission described how the working group conducted and completed the first portion of its task: to review statutes, regulations and guidance impacting U.S. repair stations certificated under 14 CFR part 145 to determine whether there were misalignments between the legal mandates in regulations and the guidance provided by the agency to both its workforce and the public. The report explains how the group researched the numerous documents and determined root causes for “significant misalignments.”

“The FAA’s system for transforming regulations into guidance material for the public and its workforce does not consistently ensure alignment with the plain language and objectives of the myriad statutes and executive orders applicable to agency rulemaking, oversight and enforcement activities,” the report said. “Therefore, the compliance elements sought by the agency in internal and external guidance material are not based upon a reasonable interpretation of the standards established by law.”

To begin addressing its findings, the working group requested ARAC consider providing two interim recommendations to the FAA:

(1) Develop industry and agency workforce training based on the plain language of the regulations and related rulemaking materials.
(2) Change internal guidance to allow inspectors and local office managers to deviate from Order 8900.1, the Flight Standards Information Management System, when its instruction is contrary to or more restrictive than the plain language of the regulations.

The working group now enters the final year of its work. According to its initial tasking, the group’s final report must be submitted within 12 months, i.e., December 2021. That report will include further recommendations to support “performance-based decision making and the agency’s evaluation of those decisions,” according to the congressional mandate that established the tasking. The final set of recommendations will see through the working group’s instruction to ensure all guidance documents:

(1) Align with the regulations as well as U.S. law and applicable executive orders.
(2) Are numbered to establish a relationship between the guidance and the applicable regulation.
(3) Consistently communicate compliance expectations to agency personnel as well as the public.
(4) Consider repair station oversight in the context of the size and work of each certificate holder.

The report was unanimously accepted and referred its contents to the relevant FAA program offices for action.

To read the full preliminary report, click here.

12/18/18 - 145 Group Gets Working

December 18, 2018

On Dec. 11-12, the working group tasked by the FAA through the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to review and reconcile FAA repair station regulations and guidance convened for its first meeting.

ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod co-chaired the session alongside Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for the Aircraft Electronics Association. The association was a staunch proponent of ARAC’s December 2017 adoption of the tasking and has spent most of 2018 awaiting the agency’s selection of working group participants. With the group, MacLeod and Peri have set a proactive timeline for producing them.

As reported to the ARAC during its full meeting on Dec. 13, the working group will comprehensively review all internal and external guidance material related to 14 CFR part 145. Based on the study, the body will recommend improvements to ensure all guidance documents:

(1) Align with the regulations as well as U.S. law and applicable executive orders.
(2) Are numbered to establish a relationship between the guidance and the applicable regulation.
(3) Consistently communicate compliance expectations to agency personnel as well as the public.
(4) Consider repair station oversight in the context of the size and work of each certificate holder.

The working group will deliver its preliminary report no later than Friday, Dec.11, 2020 – 24 months after its first meeting – and its final report no more than 12 months after that report has been accepted by the FAA. The group will have monthly conference calls/online meetings and meet face-to-face twice yearly.

In addition to ARSA and AEA, the following organizations represent the directly impacted industry segments on the working group:

Industry segment Organization
Repair stations in general AEA, ARSA & GAMA
Part 121 airline WITH a part 145 Delta TechOps
Part 121 and 135 (10 and over) airline W/O a part 145 United & Kalitta
Corporate operator using part 65 mechanics/ a limited rated repair station to perform work only on its own aircraft Air Methods
Foreign repair station from a non-bilateral country Boeing
Large, multi-dimensional independent repair station for  
(1) A “large” aircraft ATS
(2) A “business—small turbine powered” aircraft GAMA
Large, multi-dimensional captive repair station Gulfstream
Small focused repair station(s)  
–Avionics shop Green Mountain
–Completion center for rotorcraft Sikorsky & Wysong
–Component QAI
—-Independent—works on a multitude of manufacturers Triumph
—-Captive—only works on its own articles (PMA manufacturer for example) Collins Aerospace
–Engine only  
—-Turbine P&W
—-Reciprocating GAMA
–Propeller—captive and/or independent GE (Dowty)
Unions (airline mechanics) AMFA

Anyone not participating in the working group should rest assured ARSA will represent the interests of all repair stations in this endeavor. The association is determined to ensure its members and other part 145 maintenance providers understand the difference between minimum standards in aviation safety regulations and best practices so appropriate business decisions can be made.

Stay tuned as the group continues working.

1/18/18 - ARAC Officially Forming Working Group on Part 145

January 18, 2018

During its December 2017 meeting, the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), of which ARSA has been a member since its founding, accepted a task to review and reconcile the regulations and guidance respecting part 145 repair stations.

The Federal Register notice posted on Jan. 18 outlines the accepted task and requests interested parties to submit information for inclusion in the working group. If an individual is not accepted onto the working group, rest assured that ARSA will represent the interests of all repair stations in ensuring the agency’s guidance is fully aligned with the plain language of the regulation. The association is determined to ensure its members and other part 145 maintenance providers understand the difference between minimum standards in aviation safety regulations and best practices so appropriate business decisions can be made.

To review the notice, see the information below. Stay tuned to ARSA for more information…

Notice Title: Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee-New Task (Part 145 Working Group)
Published: 01/18/2018
Document #: 2018-00819
Introduction: The FAA has assigned the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) a new task to provide recommendations regarding the agency’s guidance on the certification and oversight of all part 145 repair stations. This notice informs the public of the new ARAC activity and solicits membership for the new Part 145 Working Group.

To see all the ways ARSA works on behalf of the aviation community, visit the ARSA Works page.



More from ARSA

The Dispatch – Feb. 1 Edition

The Dispatch – ARSA’s open-subscription weekly newsletter – provides a central communication for key updates to the global aviation maintenance community. All member contacts, industry allies and subscribers should receive…Read More

Quick Question Explored – SMS Proposed Rule

In January, the FAA issued its long awaited notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would update and expand the requirements for safety management systems. Despite the proposal’s (thankful) omission of…Read More

Industry Seeks Relief from Bilateral Parts Documentation Squeeze

On Jan. 31, ARSA coordinated submission of a letter to FAA and EASA executives seeking to correct misinterpretation of aircraft parts documentation requirements under the U.S./EU bilateral aviation safety agreement…Read More

Sponsor Salute

March 14-17, 2023 Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. with Livestream Options for Online Participants Sponsors | Event Information | Registration | Hotel Reservations Thank you to the 19 organizations that have…Read More

SMS NPRM Issued Without Part 145

On Jan. 11, the FAA issued a long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would update and expand the requirements for safety management systems. The proposal’s applicability does not include…Read More
Schaeffler Aerospace
ARSA