More of the Same: Government Report Criticizes Foreign Oversight
On July 16, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (DOT-IG) issued a report criticizing FAA oversight of foreign repair stations in the European Union (E.U.).
The investigation was requested by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.). It focused on the effectiveness of the FAA’s process to transfer oversight to national aviation authorities (NAA) following the E.U.-U.S. bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA). The DOT-IG also looked at the agency’s process for monitoring FAA-certificated repair stations operating under the BASA.
The reasoning presented in the report has become old and familiar. Previous analysis from both DOT-IG and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted issues with inspector training – a fact recognized by the industry-formed consistency of regulatory interpretation aviation rulemaking committee (CRI ARC). In reality, to note such shortcomings is incomplete and misleading.
The purpose of BASAs is to enhance cross-border regulatory efficiency and help moderate costs for international aviation businesses. They allow countries to accept each other’s oversight, thereby focusing attention on the points where regulatory requirements differ. The value of these agreements has been well documented, but their success depends on commitment by each government to the cooperative tenants of the arrangement. By harping on the FAA’s inability to train and monitor its own as well as foreign inspectors, the report obscures the value of international collaboration and the true effectiveness of the oversight transfer.
The Obama administration’s duplicity cannot go unnoticed as it continues to criticize foreign repair stations even as the president and his congressional allies tout their pro-free trade record. Unfortunately, the report’s insistence that the FAA isn’t adequately overseeing FAA-certificated repair stations only adds “fuel to the fire” on Capitol Hill as Congress ramps up debate on FAA reauthorization. Consequently, ARSA and the broader industry must remain vigilant against threats to international agreements and the global aviation community.