Hotline Highlight – Senators Introduce Foreign Repair Station Bill
The hotline – ARSA’s premier member newsletter – contains news, editorial content, analysis and resources for the aviation maintenance community. All members should ensure they receive their edition the first week of each month. Not getting yours? Click here for direct access. For more information about the association’s periodicals, click here.
This “hotline highlight” is presented along with the content related to ARSA’s ongoing work to educate lawmakers about the perils of anti-repair station policy. To review other “highlights,” visit arsa.org/hotline-highlight or search arsa.org.
From the “ARSA on the Hill” section…
Senators Introduce Foreign Repair Station Bill
Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced legislation that would impose new rules on foreign repair stations performing heavy maintenance on U.S. air carrier aircraft.
The Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act (S. 1256) is a slightly modified version of anti-foreign repair station legislation that passed the House in 2022. While the legislation was significantly improved (and renamed from “the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act”) during House T&I Committee negotiations last spring, it would still impose new and unnecessary burdens on U.S. air carriers, foreign repair stations, and their employees, and potentially expose U.S. facilities to foreign retaliation.
The legislation requires:
- Inspections of foreign repair stations without notice to the facility.
- Annual reporting by airlines to the FAA about where heavy maintenance is performed outside the United States and any defects discovered within 30 days of an aircraft’s return to service.
- Direct certification by the FAA of supervisory personnel and those authorized to approve an article for return to service at foreign repair stations performing heavy maintenance unless the FAA determines that those individuals are already certificated under an equivalent regime.
- FAA publication of a final drug and alcohol testing rule within two years of the bill’s enactment. If the agency fails to finish the assignment on time, the FAA administrator would be required to personally approve all international travel by FAA employees.
- Security threat assessments for foreign repair station employees.
Parallel legislation (H.R. 1716) was introduced in the House by Rep. Marcus Molinaro (R-N.Y.) on March 22. It includes additional restrictions, such as a prohibition on U.S. air carriers contracting for maintenance or the FAA issuing new certificates in countries that have Category 2 status based on the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment. H.R. 1716 has 33 cosponsors.
ARSA opposes the legislation for several reasons, including the absence of any safety issue, a lack of FAA resources to accomplish all the bill requires, additional costs and burdens for foreign repair stations and their airline customers, and the risk of tit-for-tat retaliation against U.S. facilities by foreign authorities. While unions representing airline mechanics have promoted anti-contract maintenance language for decades, this is the first time a Senate bill has been introduced, let alone one with Republican support.
U.S. ARSA members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to express opposition to the bill; foreign members should contact their embassies in Washington, D.C. or their home authorities to express concerns.
Previous updates on H.R. 5119...
December 31, 2023
END OF YEAR UPDATE: The drama surrounding H.R. 7321 continued throughout 2022. At the suggestion of ARSA and its allies, significant improvements were made to the bill when it was considered by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in June and the bill was renamed the Global Aircraft Safety Improvement Act. The bill passed the House on Sept. 29 in its amended form, is still unnecessary and a solution in search of a problem. Supporters of the bill have attempted to add it to “must pass” year-end legislation, but those efforts have to-date been unsuccessful. ARSA expects foreign repair station oversight to be among the topics considered during the 2023 FAA reauthorization.
In a letter sent May 27, ARSA and nine other leading aviation trade associations told the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee to “just say no” to the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (SAMSA; H.R. 7321).
The SAMSA bill, which was introduced by T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on March 31, would impose new rules and restrictions on FAA-certificated repair stations located outside the United States, make it more difficult for U.S. air carriers to use them, violate bilateral aviation safety agreement obligations and invite retaliation against American industry. The letter said the legislation would also “add to the Federal Aviation Administration’s workload without providing additional resources, thereby distracting the agency from more pressing safety matters.”
“This bill is a brazen attempt by unions representing airline mechanics to undermine contract maintenance and force more maintenance work ‘in house’,” ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein said. “Given the maintenance industry’s outstanding safety record, the unprecedent workforce challenges we’re facing, and decades long efforts to make global aviation regulatory compliance more efficient, it simply makes no sense.”
ARSA has set up a resource page with more information about SAMSA. U.S. maintenance industry professionals are urged to contact Congress in opposition using ARSA’s legislative action center (sponsored by Aircraft Electric Motors); foreign repair stations should contact their embassies in Washington, D.C. to object.
The following organizations joined ARSA on the May 27 letter:
Aerospace Industries Association
Aircraft Electronics Association
Airlines for America
Aviation Supplies Association
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
International Air Transport Association
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
Regional Airline Association
To read the full letter, click here.
April 3, 2022
On March 31, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) reintroduced legislation he first proposed in 2019 to undermine the efficiency of contract maintenance. The legislation is a top priority for airline mechanics unions, which feel threatened by the safety gains and cost savings associated with airlines’ use of repair stations, particularly those outside the United States.
ARSA led the effort to defeat DeFazio’s “Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act” (SAMSA) in the last Congress and will continue to push back on this (and any) legislation that would unduly burden the aviation industry and impact the flying public with no basis in safety.
In the days ahead, ARSA will be updating its legislative action center to reflect the bill’s number in the current Congress. Otherwise, the association’s concerns and objections remain the same.
As it was in 2019, SAMSA is “policymaking at its worst.”
What you can do to help prevent it from becoming law? Visit arsa.org/legislative/samsa-actioncenter – the names and numbers may change but the need for your engagement is the same.
August 7, 2020
The hotline – ARSA’s premier member newsletter – contains news, editorial content, analysis and resources for the aviation maintenance community. All members should ensure they receive their edition the first week of each month. Not getting yours? We can fix that.
This “hotline highlight” is presented along with the content related to H.R. 5119 (below) for easy reference and action. To review past “highlights,” visit arsa.org/hotline-highlight.
In this edition…
Knowledge is Power
July continued the pandemic-infused onslaught of tough-to-cope-with information. “Grim” survey response data. The re-emergence of threatening legislation from the U.S. Congress. More challenges in managing regulatory impact. ARSA’s work is focusing its knowledge into effort.
From “ARSA on the Hill”…
House T&I Committee Reports Anti-Repair Station Bill
On July 29, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee reported the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119). Dubbed “the anti-repair station bill,” the legislation would cause significant disruptions for the global aviation maintenance industry, U.S. air carriers, passengers and cargo shippers, general aviation operators and aerospace manufacturers. ARSA is leading a coalition of 10 organizations to defeat the legislation.
Given that H.R. 5119 was approved by the House T&I Committee last November, it’s unclear why the House T&I Committee leaders have chosen this moment to report it to the full House. The bill has been added to the Union Calendar, which means it is ripe for consideration on the House floor. Adding fuel to the fire, detrimental repair station language was included in the second major coronavirus relief passed by the House earlier this summer, so its clear that anti-repair station lawmakers and their union allies are determined to impose new restrictions on contract maintenance. ARSA opposes using regulatory policy and false safety arguments to achieve labor’s economic objectives. H.R. 5119 would make it even harder to recover the present economic crisis.
January 30, 2020
On Jan. 22, ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein led a delegation of aviation association executives to the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C. The group briefed foreign diplomats on risks to global aviation posed by the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119). More than two dozen transportation attachés attended the meeting with ARSA and representatives from the International Air Transport Association, the Aerospace Industries Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
During the briefing, Klein and his colleagues discussed the status and impact of the legislation, which would significantly disrupt the relationship between – and impose new burdens on – U.S. airlines and their maintenance contractors (particularly those overseas) and make it more difficult for U.S. aerospace companies to operate globally.
Klein told the group that aside from the direct impact on industry, the legislation would threaten bilateral aviation safety agreements between the United States and its partners, undue decades of progress in the area of regulatory cooperation and increase oversight and compliances costs for government and industry.
More information about the bill, ARSA’s efforts to prevent it from becoming law and what you can do to help is available in the association’s online action center at arsa.org/legislative/hr5119-actioncenter. ARSA encourages its international members to contact their foreign ministries and embassies in Washington, D.C. and encourage their diplomats to engage on this issue. Contact information for embassies is at www.embassy.org/embassies.
To review the presentation given by Klein and his associates, click here.
January 3, 2020
On Jan. 3, ARSA published a new online action center providing resources and instructions for opposing the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119). The page is a resource for industry members, policymakers, the media and any other interested party. It provides background on the maintenance industry, outlines the association’s objections to H.R. 5119 and describes ways to support the campaign to prevent the bill from becoming law.
The page is arranged using a “question and answer” format and can be found at arsa.org/legislative/hr5119-actioncenter.
Check out the pages resources for yourself by jumping directly into one of the questions (the links below will take you to the relevant section on the action center page):
What do you want to know?
December 5, 2019
On Dec. 5, ARSA hosted a webinar to encourage industry action in opposition to an anti-contract maintenance bill rushed through the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee on Nov. 20.
To stream a recording of the webinar, click here.
To download a PDF copy of the presentation, click here.
The bill could be considered by the full House before the end of the year, demanding immediate attention from the repair station community as well as suppliers, customers and business partners.
Among other things, the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119) would:
- Impose burdensome new maintenance-related reporting requirements on air carriers.
- Ban the FAA from issuing or renewing repair station certificates in countries designated as Category 2 under the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program (and ban U.S. air carriers from using maintenance contractors in those countries).
- Require the FAA to directly certificate workers at foreign repair stations.
- Impose a moratorium on the issuance of new FAA repair station certificates outside the United States if the agency does not complete all the tasks directed by the bill and pending foreign repair station-related rulemakings within one year of the bill’s enactment (a laundry list so long the FAA will never meet the deadline).
House T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the bill on Nov. 15 and brought it up for a committee vote just five days later. No hearings were ever held to discuss the bill or committee concerns about repair station oversight. Given the “no huddle offense” strategy that Chairman DeFazio and his airline mechanic union allies employed to get the bill through committee, there’s a strong possibility they could try to get it to the House floor for a vote before the end of the year. Given that all T&I Committee Democrats and seven Republicans voted in favor, if it were taken up by the House today, it would likely pass.
If the bill becomes law, U.S. repair stations with foreign approvals and their employees would almost certainly be targets of the retaliation by foreign authorities. 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. And U.S. manufacturers seeking to provide product support in growing foreign markets would be prevented from obtaining FAA certification at those overseas facilities.
ARSA is leading a coalition of industry organizations and companies to oppose the bill. In addition to meeting with congressional offices to voice concerns and coordinating a letter in advance of the committee vote, ARSA has developed additional materials (see the remainder of this page’s content) to support our members’ and allies’ advocacy. With the specter of a House vote looming, time is of the essence. Your personal engagement is critical to stop H.R. 5119 from becoming law.
More information about the bill and what you can to do prevent it from becoming law is available on this page (scroll down).
November 20, 2019
ARSA Vice President Christian A. Klein issued the following statement in response to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee’s Nov. 20 passage of the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act (H.R. 5119), a bill introduced on Nov. 15 by T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio. On Nov. 16, a coalition of eleven leading aviation associations led by ARSA sent a letter to House T&I members opposing the bill. More information about the legislation and economic and regulatory issues related to contract aviation maintenance can be found on this page (review materials and updates provided below.
Chairman DeFazio’s repair station bill is policymaking at its worst. Aviation laws and regulations must be based on facts with safety as the overarching goal. In stark contrast, H.R. 5119 is a political bill that will disrupt international travel. Its surprise unveiling and rapid passage through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee tell the whole story: It was introduced late last week and passed in five days without any hearings or opportunity for industry to comment.
The legislation will disrupt U.S. air carrier and general aviation operations, undermine global aviation regulatory cooperation, add to the burden of regulators without providing new resources, subject U.S. aviation maintenance companies and their employees to foreign retaliation and make it more difficult for U.S. manufacturers and repair stations to service a global customer base.
No huddle offense may win football games, but it’s a loser when making policy, particularly in a heavily regulated sector like aviation safety.