The Old and the New: ARSA Takes A Look at FAA’s Rewrite of 145

On May 21, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would significantly revise 14 CFR part 145, the regulation governing aviation maintenance repair stations.

While ARSA is still analyzing its implications, staff has completed a side-by-side comparison and a red-lined version of the current vs. proposed rule.

Among other things, the NPRM preamble asserts that the proposed rule would—

  • Reduce the ratings system from eight to five by combining “radio”, “instrument” and “accessory” ratings into one “component” rating.
  •  Add a question to the repair station application inquiring whether the applicant held a repair station certificate that had been or is currently in the process of being revoked.
  •  Require that applicants have equipment in place and available for inspection during the certification process. (Currently, the repair station can meet the equipment requirement by having a contract ensuring the equipment is available when the relevant work is performed.)
  •  Require that the FAA “accept” a certificate for surrender (otherwise, the certificate would remain effective for administrative and enforcement purposes, even if the certificate holder ceased operations).
  •  Define capability list requirements, institute new processes for adding articles to the capability list, and require repair stations with a capability list to review it at least every two years.
  •  Revise the definition of line maintenance (according to the NPRM’s preamble, the new definition would reinforce that line maintenance is performed for air carriers, is generally performed at the ramp, parking area, or gate and typically does not exceed 24 continuous hours per aircraft).
  •  Add a section prohibiting fraudulent or intentionally false entries in repair station records or the fraudulent reproduction or alteration of records or reports.
  •  Add sections to define operations specifications, provide procedures for initiating changes to operations specifications, and clarify that repair station operations specifications are not part of the repair station certificate.
  •  Require both “suitable and permanent” housing and provide an exception to facilitate repair stations with a limitation to perform line maintenance for air carriers.
  •  Allow a repair station to use multiple fixed locations if appropriate criteria are met.
  •  Allow a satellite repair station to hold a rating not held by the certificated repair station with managerial control.
  •  Require a satellite repair station to submit the same repair station manuals as the repair station with managerial control and identify any processes or procedures unique to the satellite.
  •  Require supervisory personnel, inspection personnel, and personnel authorized to approve an article for return to service to understand, read, write, and speak English.
  •  Require that the repair station roster include the types of maintenance performed in past positions for each employee listed.
  •  Require human factors and part 145 regulatory training.

The FAA proposes retaining the current regulations (with revisions to accommodate the transition) appended with the proposed regulations for 24 months after the effective date. New applicants or those that apply for a certificate change after the effective date must comply with the new rule while repair stations already certificated would have 24 months to show compliance.

The Association’s initial analysis indicates that the agency may be complicating its rule at a time that simplification would enhance the FAA’s compliance and enforcement posture. An example is the FAA’s reasoning that since everyone is providing it a “letter of compliance”, it should be part of the regulation. The agency apparently has forgotten that it specifically removed that requirement from its rule during the last proposal/final rule but failed to remove the “requirement” for the letter of compliance from its “guidance” documents. Therefore, inspectors “required” the letter even though the regulation did not; hence, applicants “always” provided the document. The Association does not appreciate nor accept hypocritical reasoning; it will again protest the “requirement” for another piece of paper merely because “it has always been done that way.”

Additionally, the agency is proposing to remove operations specifications from the certificate, making them a separate “requirement” because there has been “confusion” over their use. The “confusion” arose only since the FAA “automated” the operations specifications. The people that created the automated system were only familiar with air carrier operations specifications that are specifically NOT part of the airline’s certificate. To add a burden to small repair stations because the agency misunderstood its own longstanding rule is not a justifiable reason to change the requirement.

On the positive side, the proposed rating system has simplified the method for issuing the original rating, but the capability list must be carefully studied to ensure it is flexible without being burdensome to either the agency or the industry.

ARSA methodically reviews proposed regulations to ensure every nuance is appropriately addressed in its comments. Having completed an initial review of the changes, the Association is now combing through the proposed rule to ensure its comments recommend a consistent and common-sense approach that would benefit both industry and aviation safety.

After completing this analysis, ARSA will file its comments with the agency. The Association encourages members to submit their own suggestions. Comments are due Nov. 19, 2012.

~~~ posted 6/8/12 ~~~

~~~updated 8/17/12 new comment deadline ~~~

~~~update 11/20/12 – ARSA files comments ~~~

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