Congress To Address Repair Station Security Issue

 - November 11, 2009, 8:10 AM

November 18 has been set as the day the House Committee on Homeland Security will take up the issue of repair station security. It is part of a Congressional review of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) proposed repair station security rule currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. Six years ago Congress proposed the rule and mandated the TSA study the situation and develop baseline security measures for FAR Part 145 domestic and foreign repair stations. To date, little information about the proposed rule has been made public.

Originally the hearing was to be limited to witnesses representing the TSA, FAA and Department of Transportation Inspector General’s office. Christian Klein, executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), said the committee has recently announced that it will allow witnesses from industry and unions. “I’ll be testifying on behalf of ARSA and there will also be an ATA representative,” he said.

Matt Hallett, ARSA’s director of government affairs, told AIN the group is approaching the November 18 hearing “with a certain apprehension as it is driven by political purpose rather than credible threat. The House Homeland Security Committee will be raising two major themes: questioning the TSA on the delay in delivering an NPRM on repair station security and whether the FAA is capable of overseeing repair station security.”

Hallett said with regard to the question of oversight, the committee will cite the 2008 DOT Inspector General’s report on FAA oversight of “outsourced” maintenance providers and its critical analysis of FAA shortfalls.

 “While the repair station security rule from the TSA will apply to all Part 145 repair stations (in-house, contract, domestic and foreign), the focal point of discussion will likely center on foreign repair stations,” he said.

Hallett said ARSA is encouraging its members to communicate with Congress and is educating committee membership on issues involved. If your representative is a member of the committee, Hallett encourages you to make contact and emphasize the robust safety and security record at repair stations.

“Repair stations should be concerned that Congress could use anecdotal, uncorroborated ‘examples’ of repair station security flaws to mandate additional rulemakings that are unnecessary and will increase the regulatory burden and costs for all Part 145 repair stations.

“Members of Congress must understand that repair stations maintain safe, secure locations and that security measures are already in place via ICAO, customers and internal policy, despite the TSA’s inaction. Finally, Congress must again be reminded that punishing industry, such as the current freeze on initial certification of foreign repair stations, is not a viable mechanism for forcing a government agency to action.”