On December 21, 2011, the U.S. aviation industry received notification from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the final rule for aircraft repair station security will not be approved and published until the fourth quarter of 2012. This notification was prompted after 20 industry leaders sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano asking that the rule, which has been under consideration for eight years, be finalized before the end of 2011.
TSA first held a public meeting on this rulemaking, mandated by the 2003 Vision 100 Century of Aviation Act, in 2004 and issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) five years later in November 2009. The aviation industry provided TSA with comprehensive comments on the nature and diversity of repair station operations and how to make this rule an effective, risk-based security regulation. The public comment period for this NPRM closed in February 2010 and work on a final rule has been ongoing for the past 21 months. As of August 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been barred from issuing new certificates for repair stations outside the United States.
“Repair station security is clearly not a priority for DHS, despite Congressional direction requiring the agency to act on multiple occasions,” says GAMA’s President and CEO, Pete Bunce. “The result of years of DHS inaction has unfairly punished the aviation industry by impeding exports and hampering manufacturers’ ability to capitalize on profitable emerging markets. It is astonishing that a federal department can procrastinate for more than eight years on an important security rule mandated by Congress. There are no excuses for such bureaucratic foot-dragging especially when it hurts our nation’s security and economic well-being.”
“We re incredibly disappointed with the response offered by DHS,” states NATA president James K. Coyne. “The inability of DHS to offer a final rule stifles economic growth in a climate where aviation maintenance facilities big and small need all the help they can get.”