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FAA Proposes Removing Repair Station “Current” Data Requirement

On Jan. 31, the Federal Register published a notice of proposed rulemaking from the FAA that would amend § 145.109(d) to remove the requirement for repair stations to keep an extensive list of documents “current and accessible” even when those methods, techniques, and practices were not used.

The NPRM would remove the struck-through language below from the paragraph:

§ 145.109 Equipment, materials, and data requirements.

* * *

(d) A certificated repair station must maintain, in a format acceptable to the FAA, the documents and data required for the performance of maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations under its repair station certificate and operations specifications in accordance with part 43. The following documents and data must be current and accessible when the relevant work is being done:

(1) Airworthiness directives,

(2) Instructions for continued airworthiness,

(3) Maintenance manuals,

(4) Overhaul manuals,

(5) Standard practice manuals,

(6) Service bulletins, and

(7) Other applicable data acceptable to or approved by the FAA.

A 2019 ARSA petition for rulemaking requested the FAA perform the exact same action. In that petition, the association noted that the requirement to maintain “current” maintenance data was unique to repair stations (an unnecessary cost burden on many small to medium sized businesses), inconsistent with the performance rules of § 43.13, and incompatible with multiple sections in part 145 subpart E.

The NPRM specifically requests feedback from the public to “address any concerns” associated with the proposal. ARSA will reinforce the points made in its 2019 petition, most of which are already included in the NRPM. The regulations for all maintenance activities are the same, even for air carriers and their maintenance providers that must meet the “highest standards of safety” in performing work; none needs the “current” versions of data when other methods, techniques, or practices must also return the article to at least its original or properly altered condition.

Contract Maintenance Approval Clarification

The NPRM, which includes numerous updates related to various maintenance and inspection program requirements in parts 91, 125, 135, and 137 in addition to 145, also proposes to amend §§ 145.201 and 145. 217 to clarify when a repair station must obtain FAA approval to contract work.

If the proposed amendments are made, the affected parts of each section would be (links go to the current version of the CFR; normal text is original and will remain, struck-through text will be removed, bolded text is new to be added):

§ 145.201 Privileges and limitations of certificate.

(a) A certificated repair station may—

* * *

(2) Arrange for another person to perform the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations of any article for which the certificated repair station is rated. If that person is not certificated under part 145, the certificated repair station must ensure that the noncertificated person follows a quality control system equivalent to the system followed by the certificated repair station. The certificated repair station may approve an article for return to service following the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations performed on the article by the other person if—

(i) The certificated repair station is rated to perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on the article; and

(ii) The requirements for contract maintenance in § 145.217 have been met.

§ 145.217 Contract maintenance.

(a) A certificated repair station may contract a maintenance function pertaining to an article to an outside source provided may approve an article for return to service following the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations performed on an article by an outside source under contract or other arrangement, in accordance with § 145.201(a)(2), provided all the following conditions are met:

(1) The FAA approves the maintenance function to be contracted to the outside source; and.

(2) The repair station maintains and makes available to its responsible Flight Standards office, in a format acceptable to the FAA, the following information:

(i) The maintenance functions contracted to each outside facility; and

(ii) The name of each outside facility to whom the repair station contracts maintenance functions and the type of certificate and ratings, if any, held by each facility.

(3) The certificated repair station verifies, by test and/or inspection, that the work has been performed satisfactorily by the other person and that the article is airworthy before approving it for return to service.

(b) A certificated repair station may contract a maintenance function pertaining to an article to a noncertificated person provided—

(1) The noncertificated person follows a quality control system equivalent to the system followed by the certificated repair station; and

(2) The certificated repair station remains directly in charge of the work performed by the noncertificated person.

(3) The certificated repair station verifies, by test and/or inspection, that the work has been performed satisfactorily by the noncertificated person and that the article is airworthy before approving it for return to service.

(c) A certificated repair station may not provide only approval for return to service of a complete type-certificated product following contract maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations.

According to the rulemaking preamble, the edits to §§ 145.201 and 145.217 are to address confusion in the existing rule. The FAA reports that repair stations have misunderstood whether approval was needed to contract work to another 145 certificate holder when the contractor will issue the approval for return to service related to the contracted work.

“We believe the confusion surrounding the approval requirement is part of a broader misunderstanding of contract maintenance regulations,” the preamble said. “Section 145.217 applies when a certificated repair station contracts a maintenance function to an outside source with the intent of then assuming regulatory responsibility for the maintenance work performed by the outside source, regardless of whether that outside source is certificated under part 145.”

Stay tuned for updates as ARSA continues to review the proposal and prepare its response. Send questions or analysis to the association via the “Ask ARSA” portal.

To view the NPRM, click here.

More on the 'Current' Data Effort...

12/27/19 - ARSA Gifts FAA a Petition to Remove 'Current' Maintenance Data Requirement

December 27, 2019

On Dec. 23, while the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) prepared to track Santa Claus’ Christmas Eve trek around the world, ARSA delivered a holiday present to another branch of the American government: a petition to eliminate language from 14 CFR § 145.109(d) requiring certain documents and data be “current and accessible when the relevant work is being done.”

In 2018, the association stimulated submission of a number of industry requests for exemption from § 145.109(d)’s “current” maintenance data requirements. By submitting those petitions, FAA-certificated repair stations set the stage for ARSA’s rulemaking request by applying pressure on the agency to uniformly apply both design and maintenance requirements in addition to aligning parts 145 and 43. As those maintenance providers are aware, the FAA does not require design approval holders (i.e., manufacturers) to make maintenance data available as they are required to by § 21.50(b). However, the agency aggressively enforces the requirement for repair stations to possess the most current version of those documents.

“The last sentence of section 145.109(d), applies only to repair stations, the vast majority of which are small-to-medium-sized enterprises,” ARSA’s petition said. “The requirement to maintain current and accessible documents and data irrelevant to the work performed provides no safety benefit. The costs cannot be justified and the unnecessary sentence causes substantial confusion and expense for the agency. The requested amendment of section 145.109(d) will eliminate needless and discriminatory burdens.”

To read the full petition, click here.

11/19/18 - Exemption Toolkit for 'Current' Maintenance Data Requirement

November 19, 2018

On Nov. 19, ARSA released a members-only toolkit providing a draft petition for exemption – and instructions for its submission – from the requirement under 14 CFR § 145.109(d) that repair stations have “current” manufacturer’s data available even when it is not needed and will not be used.

As many maintenance providers are aware, the FAA does not require design approval holders (i.e., manufacturers) to make maintenance data available as they are required to by 14 CFR § 21.50(b). However, the agency aggressively enforces the requirement for repair stations to possess the most current version of those documents. By submitting petitions, FAA-certificated repair stations will pressure the agency to uniformly apply both design and maintenance requirements in addition to aligning parts 145 and 43.

The association encourages its members to utilize the toolkit to submit a petition; the included draft requires minimal editing/update and is ready to be placed on company letterhead and delivered to the agency. Not only will the effort directly benefit each repair station by helping alleviate an unnecessary regulatory burden, it will also help ARSA develop a broader public policy case for removing the requirement from § 145.109(d).

To access the toolkit:

(1) Log in to the association’s secure online portal (arsa.member365.com). If you have not done so previously or have lost your credentials, enter the email address associated with your membership and follow the instructions for “Forgot Password?”
(2) From your member dashboard, select “Workspaces” from the top menu.
(3) From the workspaces page, select “Publications: Tools for ARSA Members” under the “ARSA Members” category.
(4) On the left side of the workspace screen, select “File Library.”
(5) On the file library page, select “Petition from Exemption from 14 CFR 145.109(d)” from the category drop-down.
(6) Click the filename “ARSA-145-109ExemptionToolkit-20181110.docx” to download the toolkit, which is in a Word Document format.

Keep the association informed by including arsa@arsa.org on any correspondence regarding exemption requests and use the inquiry system to submit any questions.

Related

While ARSA leads the effort to eliminate the requirement, share your experiences regarding “current” maintenance data requirements through the following “quick question”:

Quick Question – Current Maintenance Data



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