On Sept. 22, a coalition of aviation trade associations asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fix a seven-letter mistake in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that would create serious headaches for the aviation maintenance industry.
The group, which includes the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, Airlines for America, the Cargo Airline Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Air Carrier Association, petitioned the FAA to correct the new repair station rule issued on Aug. 12. The amendment to 14 CFR part 145 will become effective Nov. 10, but includes the improper removal of the word “serious” from a paragraph requiring repair stations to report a failure, malfunction or defect of an article to the agency within 96 hours.
Complying with the section was already difficult. By removing the word “serious,” aviation repair stations are effectively required to report everything that comes through the door – if an article did not have a failure, malfunction or defect, it would not need work – an expectation that is unrealistic and inefficient. The change would impose incalculable cost on both the agency and industry and was made without warning; it was not considered in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to which industry members submitted comments in 2012.
The FAA incorrectly claims that “serious” was removed to rectify the word’s “inadvertent” insertion during a previous rulemaking. In fact, the term was deliberately and correctly reinserted as a direct consequence of public comments in 2003, when the agency agreed with industry and acknowledged “it was not FAA’s intent to require [aviation] repair stations to report all failures, malfunctions, and defects.”
“This is why we scrutinize the rules,” says Sarah MacLeod, ARSA’s executive director. “One misplaced or misused word can cause a whole lot of trouble for repair stations, their customers and – in the end – the flying public. It takes work to dissect, apply and chronicle regulations published by the government, but it is one of ARSA’s jobs for the repair station community. The effort paid off and now the agency has the opportunity to quickly make things right.”
In the petition, the coalition urges the FAA to honor its previous rulemaking activity by replacing “serious.” Since it is in the public interest to implement a correction that was fully vetted during a prior comment period, the agency can use its authority under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to implement a direct final rule without delays required for public notice and comment.