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FAA Reauthorization Easily Passes Senate, Sets Up Conference Showdown

On March 22, the Senate approved, 93-0, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (HR 1586) to reauthorize the agency until Sept. 30, 2011. The House and Senate must now meet to reconcile considerable differences between HR 1586 and the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill (HR 915).

While neither piece of legislation is “user-friendly” to the aviation maintenance industry, the Senate legislation is preferable to the House bill in several areas:

  • The Senate bill honors safety agreements between the U.S. and other governments, such as the E.U, while the House legislation requires the FAA to inspect foreign repair stations twice annually regardless of international accords.
  • At ARSA’s urging, the Senate made a last-minute change to its bill to take into account the U.S.-Canada BASA, recognizing that the certification granted by Transport Canada to an Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) is the equivalent of part 145 approval. The House bill has no such language.
  • Unlike the House legislation, the Senate bill allows an exemption for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to perform covered maintenance work without being classified as a non-certificated maintenance provider if the OEM originally produced and continues to produce the article.
  • The Senate language does not require individuals performing maintenance at foreign repair stations be subjected to the Department of Transportation (DOT) anti-drug and alcohol testing program and the Senate bill takes into account the applicable laws of the country in which a repair station is located when determining if the facility’s testing program is acceptable. The House language does not do so.

Additionally, both chambers must negotiate differences regarding a contentious labor-backed provision relating to UPS and FedEx and the revocation of antitrust immunity granted to certain airline alliances. The Senate bill does not deal with either issue.

Anticipating that conference could take some time, the House and Senate approved another FAA extension through April.

ARSA will closely monitor negotiations between the House and Senate on FAA reauthorization and will urge lawmakers to retain the Senate language where favorable to our industry.

To view an updated side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate FAA reauthorization bills, click here.

To view the full text of the Senate-passed bill (HR 1586), click here.

To view the full text of the House-passed bill (HR 915), click here.



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