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It’s Done and We Won! FAA Bill Signed into Law

Industry engagement helps ensure common sense approach

More than four years and 23 short-term extensions after the nation’s last long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization law expired, its replacement has finally been completed.

The House and Senate approved the FAA Modernization & Reform Act (H.R. 658) in early February and President Obama signed the legislation into law on Feb. 14 (Public Law No: 112-95).

The final reauthorization measure incorporated many legislative changes proposed by ARSA throughout the process and proves that hard, persistent work by ARSA and its members will reap benefits. For repair stations, the FAA Modernization & Reform Act:

  • Codifies current FAA policy by requiring that part 145 foreign repair stations be inspected annually by FAA safety inspectors in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements. It also allows the FAA to carry out additional annual inspections based on identified risk.
  • Mandates the FAA to create a safety assessment system for part 145 repair stations, an initiative the FAA and ARSA have been working on for some time.
  • Subjects all part 145 repair station employees responsible for safety sensitive maintenance functions on part 121 aircraft to drug and alcohol testing consistent with the laws of the country where the repair station is located.
  • Ensures effective oversight of non-certificated maintenance providers without undermining the efficiency of the maintenance industry.

“This is a monumental achievement,” said ARSA Vice President Gary M. Fortner, vice president of quality control at Fortner Engineering. “The Association was able to work closely with lawmakers to hold back poorly thought-out proposals that would have restricted the ability of small independent repair stations to compete in the global marketplace. The outpouring of grassroots engagement to educate lawmakers about the importance of our industry was truly something to behold.’

The legislation, which authorizes $15.9 billion annually for the agency through 2015, strikes the right balance between safety, oversight, and operational freedom. Last Congress, repair stations were faced with FAA reauthorization legislation that would have required duplicative biannual inspections of all repairs stations and mandated drug and alcohol testing for overseas maintenance facilities without regard to laws of other nations, effectively forcing repair stations in countries that prohibit random testing to surrender their certificates.

The earlier versions of the bill would have added new layers of bureaucratic oversight and increased costs for repair stations and airlines with no improvement to safety. Most significantly, they would have destroyed the system of bilateral aviation safety agreements (BASAs) that allow U.S. aviation maintenance companies to compete internationally and threatened the United States’ $2.4 billion positive balance of trade in maintenance services.

“It is amazing how far we advanced during this process,” said ARSA Government Affairs Committee Chairman David Albert, vice president of government affairs for Chromalloy. “Two years ago, pending legislation would have destroyed the BASA between the United States and the European Union, mandated an onerous schedule of unnecessary and burdensome government inspections, and stifled growth. Facing such a challenge, ARSA and its members battled for the industry’s future. Today, that fight has paid off.”

“In a final analysis, the FAA reauthorization bill will protect the more than 274,000 Americans employed in civil aviation maintenance,” said ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “While the Association is glad to finish this round of FAA reauthorization, there is still much work to be done in educating all members of Congress about the maintenance industry’s important role keeping the flying public safe.”

In October 2010, the ARSA Board of Directors approved a dues increase to ramp up the Association’s efforts on Capitol Hill. These new resources funded an intense lobbying campaign and allowed ARSA to educate lawmakers and congressional staff about the unintended consequences of their proposals. Ultimately, lawmakers adopted many ARSA suggested improvements to the bill’s repair station and non-certificated maintenance language.

~~~ posted 2/8/12 ~~~



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