Senate Approves FAA bill
On Feb. 17, the Senate approved the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (S. 223), 87-8.
“ARSA congratulates the Senate on approving their FAA reauthorization bill,” said ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “While the Senate bill is an improvement over the House-passed bill from last Congress, this time around the House has struck the right balance between the need for oversight and allowing an industry that employs 274,000 Americans workers and contributes $39 billion annually to the U.S. economy to continue to grow.”
S. 223 is significantly different from the ARSA-endorsed FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658), recently approved by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Among other things, S. 223:
• Mandates two annual FAA safety inspections of part 145 repair stations, regardless of where the station is located, in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.
• 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. The House bill contains the same language.
• Undermines the efficiency of the maintenance industry by creating inconsistencies with the countless regulations that already govern non-certificated maintenance providers.
H.R. 658 does a substantially better job balancing more effective FAA oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations, while allowing them to build on the outstanding safety record and ensuring the continued competitiveness of the aviation maintenance industry by:
• Calling for risk-based inspections and requires the FAA to consider inspection results from foreign civil aviation authorities operating under a maintenance agreement with the U.S.
• Ensuring effective oversight of non-certificated maintenance workers without disrupting the complex regulatory scheme already in place.
The Senate will now wait for the House to approve H.R 658 before aviation leaders from the two chambers engage in conference negotiations to reconcile differences between the two bills.
A summary of S. 223 from the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee is available here.