House Passes FAA Reauthorization
On April 1, the House of Representatives approved the FAA Reauthorization & Reform Act (HR 658), 223-196. The $59.7 billion bill sets funding levels and policy priorities for the FAA through 2014.
“On behalf of ARSA and its more than 400 members, I would like to congratulate the House on its passage the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. As passed by the House, the FAA bill will ensure more effective oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations, allow the industry to build on its outstanding safety record, and ensure the continued competitiveness of the U.S. maintenance industry,” said ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “This legislation protects the 274,000 Americans employed in the industry and ensures the continued viability of its $39 billion annual contribution to the U.S. economy.”
For repair stations, the bill is a major improvement over legislation considered by Congress last year. Among other things H.R. 658:
• Establishes a safety assessment system for foreign repair station inspections. The new plan calls for risk-based inspections and requires the FAA to consider inspection results from foreign civil aviation authorities operating under a maintenance agreement with the United States.
• Subjects all part 145 repair station employees responsible for safety sensitive maintenance functions on part 121 aircraft to be subject to drug and alcohol (D&A) testing consistent with the laws of the country where the repair station is located.
• Ensures effective oversight of noncertificated maintenance providers without having unintended consequences that would undermined the efficiency of the maintenance and manufacturing industries.
The House beat back an amendment from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that would have mandated new criminal background checks for employees at part 145 repair stations. ARSA members aggressively lobbied against DeFazio’s proposal during the association’s 2011 Annual Legislative Day, which occurred while the measure was debated on the House floor.
The House adopted an amendment from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) that would require the FAA to tailor regulations according to characteristics of different parts of industry and do a cost-benefit analysis before setting regulations.
President Obama has threatened to veto FAA reauthorization legislation that contains a measure included in the House bill that reverses a National Mediation Board decision from last year making it easier for airline workers to unionize.
While the association welcomes the House passage, the legislation faces an uncertain future. The House bill differs substantially from the Senate’s FAA Air Transportation Modernization & Safety Improvement Act (S. 223). The two chambers must now meet to negotiate the differences and produce a final bill. With the latest extension of Vision 100 expiring on May 31, the House and Senate are expected to begin discussions in the near future.
Urgent Action Needed!
During the upcoming negotiations, it is critical that repair stations reach out to lawmakers and urge the conference committee to adopt the House foreign repair station and noncertificated maintenance language when the bill goes to conference.
Visit www.ARSAAction.org to send a quick note to Capitol Hill expressing support for the House repair station language and opposing any efforts that would unfairly target repair stations.