H.R. 5119 – Action Center
The information provided on this page is offered as a resource for industry members, policymakers, the media and others to provide information about the aviation maintenance industry, ARSA’s objections to the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119) and ways to support the association’s campaign to prevent the bill from becoming law.
Why is ARSA opposed to H.R. 5119?
ARSA is leading a coalition of aviation industry trade associations and companies opposed to H.R. 5119 because the bill would cause significant disruptions for the global aviation maintenance industry, U.S. air carriers, passengers and cargo shippers, general aviation operators and aerospace manufacturers.
If the bill becomes law, the more than 1,500 U.S. repair stations with foreign approvals and their employees would almost certainly be targets of retaliation by foreign authorities. Foreign repair stations would be subject to new and unnecessary requirements that do nothing to further safety. U.S. air carriers and their maintenance vendors would be subject to burdensome new recordkeeping requirements. U.S. commercial and general aviation operations outside the country would be disrupted because of a shortage – or complete lack of – FAA-certificated maintenance facilities in destination countries. U.S. manufacturers seeking to provide product support in growing foreign markets would be prevented from obtaining FAA certification at those overseas facilities.
Additionally, FAA resources – already stretched thin – would be diverted to activities with little or no safety benefit. And if the FAA fails to complete a large (and virtually impossible) laundry list of tasks within one year of the bill’s enactment, the agency would be barred for certificating new facilities outside the United States.
What organizations are opposed to H.R. 5119?
The following organizations have signed coalition letters to Congress opposing H.R. 5119:
|Aeronautical Repair Station Association
Aerospace Industries Association
Aircraft Electronics Association
Airlines for America
Aviation Suppliers Association
|General Aviation Manufacturers Association
International Air Transport Association
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
Regional Airline Association
What would H.R. 5119 do?
Among other things, H.R. 5119 includes:
- A ban on certification, recertification and use by part 121 air carriers of repair stations in countries that the FAA has designated through the International Aviation Safety Assessment programas Category 2 (Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand, Ghana, Bangladesh and Curacao).
- A requirement that the FAA conduct unannounced inspections of all foreign repair stations at least once annually.
- Requirements that part 121 air carriers broadly disclose details about their contracted maintenance.
- New FAA certification requirements for individuals working at foreign repair stations that perform maintenance for part 121 air carriers (supervisory personnel, personnel authorized to approve for return to service and persons performing inspections).
- A requirement that personnel who are directly in charge of work or who are responsible for authorizing for return to service be personally present when the work is performed or perform the work themselves.
- A ban on the issuance of new foreign repair station certificates if the FAA does not complete the implementation of these new requirements as well as the previously directed drug and alcohol testing rulemaking for foreign repair station personnelAND a new rulemaking directed in this bill to require security assessments of foreign repair station employees.
The full text of the bill is here.
What is H.R. 5119’s status?
H.R. 5119 was introduced on Nov. 15, 2019 by House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). The House T&I Committee approved the bill by a vote of 39 to 19 on Nov. 20 without holding any hearings on the issues raised in the bill or giving industry any meaningful opportunity to provide input and respond to committee members concerns. No Senate companion version has yet been introduced. For more on the status of the bill, including recent official actions and a list of cosponsors, click here.
|Committee Vote||11/20/2019 – Passed 39-19||—|
|Full Chamber Vote||—||—|
What is the outlook for H.R. 5119?
The path forward for the legislation is uncertain. The airline mechanics unions opposed to contract maintenance and who support the bill are well organized and have strong allies in Chairman DeFazio, pro-labor Democrats and Republicans. No House vote has been scheduled. There has also been no word about a potential Senate companion bill – a sign that the legislation is unlikely to move quickly. However, the T&I Committee will almost certainly consider more comprehensive aviation legislation in 2020 to address certification issues identified during the 737 MAX investigations and H.R. 5119 could potentially be rolled into the bigger bill.
How would H.R. 5119 impact the aviation industry?
Impact on U.S. repair stations and employees:
- Potential retaliation from foreign authorities (e.g., reciprocal certification ban, direct foreign certification of employees)
- Business operation disruptions for U.S. MRO companies with overseas operations (e.g., no FRS in CAT 2 countries, no new FRS)
- Diversion of resources to data gathering/generation to support customer reporting
Impact on U.S. air carriers and general aviation operators:
- Diversion of resources to data gathering and reporting for air carriers
- Shortage of maintenance services from inadequate capacity in United States and restricted growth of capacity overseas
- Inability to obtain maintenance in CAT 2 countries, which will require suspension of operations or sending mechanics on every flight
- Perennial uncertainty surrounding ability to obtain maintenance services outside the United States, since other countries may be downgraded to CAT 2 status
Impact on U.S. aviation manufacturers:
- Inability to open foreign FAA-certificated repair stations (FRS) to support customers in emerging markets
- Inability to operate existing FRS and open new FAA-certificated facilities in CAT 2 countries
Impact on FAA-certificated repair stations outside the United States:
- Costs of direct FAA certification of employees
- Immediate loss of U.S. heavy maintenance customers and eventual permanent loss of U.S. certificate (esp. CAT 2 countries)
- Uncertainty surrounding ability to maintain certificate and serve U.S. customers if country is at risk of becoming CAT 2
- Diversion of resources to data gathering/generation to support customer reporting
- Inability to open new FAA-certificated facilities
How can I help defeat H.R. 5119?
Personal engagement to prevent enactment of H.R. 5119 and protect the industry is critical. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Send a letter to the editor of your local paper objecting to H.R. 5119. Click here for a Word document with draft letters to the editor (including employment and economic data) for all 50 states (just cut and paste). Click here for editorial page contact information for publications in your state.
- Click here to download a template message that can be used to communicate with your congressional representatives and let them know that there are repair stations in their state that will be impacted by H.R. 5119. You can find out who your representatives are by going https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members and download a list of aviation staffers in each office by clicking here.
- If you’re a non-U.S. company, contact your embassy in Washington, D.C.and urge your diplomats to engage on this issue.
- Tell your colleagues at non-member companies to join ARSA. We are the voice for the industry. The more members we have, the more effective advocates we’ll be for you. Don’t be shy about sending us member recruitment suggestions.
- Host a member of Congress at your facility to SHOW them what your company and colleagues do. ARSA is standing by to help.
- Learn more about how ARSA PACsupports our advocacy efforts on your behalf and give us permission to ask for your support (Note: ARSA accepts PAC contributions only from owners and senior executives of U.S. member companies that have given written permission to be solicited in accordance with the Federal Election Campaign Act. This is not a solicitation.)
Finally, registration is open for ARSA’s 2020 Annual Conference. Legislative Day (March 11, 2020) has become an important part of the meeting and a vital opportunity to make the maintenance industry’s voice heard on Capitol Hill. H.R. 5119 be front and center during our Hill meetings. Support the association’s advocacy for you by registering now for the conference at arsa.org/news-media/events/arsa-conference.
Whom should I contact for more information about ARSA’s opposition to H.R. 5119?
ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A. Klein is the association’s registered lobbyist and managing ARSA’s efforts to defeat H.R. 5119. He is reachable at email@example.com or by calling 703.739.9543 Ext. 106.
What is “contract maintenance”?
Under international law, the state of registry of an aircraft controls the maintenance. U.S.-registered aircraft and related engines, propellers, appliances and component parts of such aircraft must be maintained by “persons” approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (generally, mechanics and repairmen, air carriers and repair stations).
It would be inconceivably expensive and inefficient for airlines to have all the technology and knowledge in-house to maintain every part of every aircraft. Repair stations are highly specialized, enabling a better return on investment in facilities, technology, training, etc.
Repair stations help reduce maintenance costs while meeting the high safety standards required by air carriers and the aviation safety rules. The increased use of contract maintenance over the past several decades has coincided with the safest period in the history of U.S. civil aviation.
How big is the maintenance industry?
There are more than 4,000 FAA-certificated repair stations throughout the United States, approximately 80 percent of U.S. repair stations are small and medium-sized entities. U.S. repair stations employ approximately 255,000 Americans (188,000 technicians and 67,000 non-technical personnel). By comparison, there are approximately 30,000 airline mechanics in the United States.
There are more than 900 FAA-certificated repair stations outside the United States that provide services to U.S. commercial and general aviation operators. Similarly, more than 1,500 U.S. repair stations are approved by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to work on EU-registered aviation products and articles. Many U.S. repair stations also hold approvals from other aviation authorities, allowing them to serve a global customer base.
Do repair stations outside the United States work to different standards from domestic facilities?
Whether inside or outside the United States, FAA-certificated repair stations must meet the same certification standards, including having a repair station manual, a quality control manual, appropriate housing and facilities, a training program, appropriate equipment, personnel and technical data.
All individuals working on U.S. registered aircraft and related articles, wherever located, work to the same regulatory standards. When working for a U.S. air carrier, all persons must follow the air carrier’s maintenance program. Airlines are always responsible for airworthiness and ensuring that, no matter who does it, maintenance is performed according to the airline’s maintenance program and FAA regulations. Airlines closely scrutinize and regularly audit their contract maintenance providers to ensure compliance.
How does the FAA currently regulate repair station personnel?
FAA rules prescribe specific personnel requirements for all repair stations (wherever they are located), including having a sufficient number of employees with training or knowledge and experience to ensure all work is performed in accordance with FAA standards. Repair stations are also required to have an FAA-approved training program to assess the abilities of all employees based on training, knowledge, experience or practical tests.
While aviation maintenance professionals may hold FAA certificates allowing them to work and supervise under their own authority, most individuals working in the aviation sector in the United States are not required to be certificated. In fact, the whole point of a repair station or air carrier having authority to perform maintenance is that the company must ensure it employs knowledgeable and capable personnel, regardless of whether the individual holds an FAA-issued mechanic certificate.
While the FAA does not certificate mechanics outside the United States, the agency’s regulations prescribe parallel requirements for supervisory personnel and those authorized to approve an article for return to service at foreign repair stations. For example, the latter must be trained in or have 18 months practical experience with the methods, techniques, practices, aids, equipment, and tools used to perform the work, be thoroughly familiar with FAA regulations, be proficient in the use of the various inspection methods, techniques, practices, aids, equipment, and tools appropriate for the work and understand, read, and write English.
- Dec. 17, 2019 coalition letter to House leadership opposing H.R. 5119
- Nov. 18, 2019 coalition letter to House T&I Committee leaders opposing H.R. 5119
- ARSA white Paper: Myths and Facts about Aviation Maintenance
- ARSA briefing paper: H.R. 5119: Negative Impacts on Aviation Stakeholders
- ARSA briefing paper: H.R. 5119: Section-by-Section Analysis
- ARSA briefing paper: Facts about Contract Maintenance
- Recording of Dec. 5, 2019 ARSA webinar about H.R. 5119
- Dec. 5 ARSA webinar PowerPoint presentation about H.R. 5119
- ARSA analysis: U.S. repair stations with foreign approval (state-by-state overview)
- ARSA/Oliver Wyman analysis: Aviation maintenance industry state-by-state employment and economic footprint
- 14 CFR part 145 (FAA repair station regulations)
Selected media coverage of contract maintenance issues
- “Opinion: The Aftermarket Is Facing Congressional Scrutiny”, Christian A. Klein, Inside MRO, Dec. 4, 2019.
- “Foreign Aircraft Repair Stations Return to Hill Spotlight”, Sam Mintz, Politico Morning Transportation, Nov. 27, 2019.
- “R. 5119 is ‘Policymaking at its Worst’”, AviationPros, Nov. 22, 2019.
- “Teamsters Support Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act”, PR Newswire, Nov. 22, 2019.
- “House Panel Approves Controversial Foreign Mx Bill”, Kerry Lynch, AINonline, Nov. 21, 2019.
- “New Bill Would Overhaul FAA’s Oversight of Non-US Repair Stations”, Jon Hemmerdinger, Flight Global, Nov. 20, 2019.
- “Boeing 737 MAX Fiasco Brings New Scrutiny to ‘Insane’ Gap in Oversight of Foreign Repair Stations”, Ted Reed, Forbes, Nov. 20, 2019.
- “Aviation Organizations Oppose Foreign Maintenance Oversight Bill”, Katie O’Connor, Avweb, Nov. 20, 2019.
- “House Foreign Repair Station Bill Draws Industry Fire”, Kerry Lynch, AINonline, Nov. 19, 2019.
- “Are Offshore Aircraft-Repair Stations the New Normal?”, Steve Appleford, Capital & Main, July 30, 2019.
- “Airline Labor to Regulators: Why Do Foreign Repair Stations Have Lower Standards?”, Tom Reed, Forbes, July 2, 2019.