Another congressionally mandated, repair station-related rule making progress concerns drug and alcohol testing of FAA foreign repair-station employees. Congress gave FAA a Feb. 14, 2013, deadline for the draft rule, and the agency is not far behind that schedule. The required review by the transportation secretary's office started in mid-November, about 10 weeks behind FAA's original timetable, the department reports.
Meanwhile, FAA reports that a human factors-centric rule titled Installed Systems and Equipment for Use by the Flightcrew, aimed at more intuitive flight deck and related systems design, is on track for a 2013 release. The rule, based largely on a rulemaking advisory committee's 2004 report, would require aircraft designers to maximize a flight crew's ability to detect and correct errors, such as by making key switches and warning indicators more prominent and accessible than less-critical ones. The draft rule was published in February 2011.
In an October 2012 letter to NTSB, acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta confirmed that the rule is slated for publication in 2013—information that trumps even the Transportation Department's most recent official report (see chart).
The final version of Safety Management Systems for Part 121 carriers, originally targeted for a 2012 release, could be out this year. FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in November 2010, and the transportation secretary's office has had FAA's version of a final rule since April 2012.
Among rules once targeted for 2013 that appear to be on hold is FAA's revamping of icing airworthiness standards in Parts 25 and 33. The draft rule came out in June 2010, and FAA took comments for three months. As of mid-December 2012, a final version of the rule hadn't been passed to Transportation for review, making FAA's target release date of March 2013 all but impossible to meet. The department says the delay is due to FAA's “awaiting development of additional data.”
—By Sean Broderick
EASA Activity In 2013
The year ahead could see a shift in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rulemaking activity from flight operations, which dominated in 2012, to engineering and maintenance matters in 2013.
Safety Management Systems (SMS) requirements in Part-M Continuing Airworthiness and Part-145 Maintenance Organizations could be two of the driving factors.