Rulemaking Aplenty Slated For 2013
If the FAA follows the timetable established by its last major repair station rule rewrite, industry will not see a final version of the new Part 145 rule in 2013. The last time the agency went from notice of proposed rulemaking to final rule on Part 145, Y2K was all the rage. The draft rule hit in June 1999, and the extended comment period stretched into December 1999. It took the FAA until August 2001—or 20 months—to sift through nearly 500 public comments, hammer out a final rule and push it out the door.
Judging by the number of comments, the FAA has a less daunting task this time around. The new Part 145 rewrite's comment period closed in November 2012, and a late groundswell of input pushed the total number of comments filed to around 250.
Some commenters were satisfied with pointing out a few hot-button issues, while others are considerably more sweeping. The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), among others, believes the draft rule is a non-starter. Among AEA's many complaints: FAA's proposal to combine current radio, instrument and accessory classes into a proposed component category.
“At a time when the use of integrated avionics is expanding in modern aircraft, the agency's proposal to remove the ease of accountability provided by the radio and instrument ratings is not supported by any safety measure and would likely result in a decrease of safety oversight, AEA argues in its comments. “This proposal has no correlation to the business models of today's repair station industry,” writes AEA.
If FAA heeds the Aeronautical Repair Station Association's (ARSA) advice, near-term activity on the rulemaking could come via public meetings. ARSA called on FAA to meet with industry, issue a supplemental draft rule based on the comments received, or do both as part of the final rule-creation process. The association also provided FAA with 43 pages of comments as a starting point.
Even without a final repair station rule, 2013 has plenty in store for aviation regulatory compliance folks.
One new regulation that could see the light of day this year is the long-awaited—and long-mandated—TSA repair station security rule. Originally required to issue a final rule by August 2004, TSA didn't push out a draft version until November 2009. Industry associations, concerned about a ban on FAA's issuance of new foreign repair station certificates, enacted by Congress to speed up TSA's glacial pace, asked in late 2011 for an update on the rulemaking. TSA assured them a final rule would be out in the fourth quarter of 2012. At a December 2012 aviation security conference in Washington, a TSA official said that a final rule was “hopefully” on track for an early-2013 release.