In a lawsuit initiated in March last year, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) challenged the FAA mandate that anti-drug and alcohol testing programs apply to aviation maintenance contractors “at any tier.”
In a two-to-one decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with ARSA that the FAA violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) by not properly considering the effect of its rule on small businesses. While the Court upheld the agency’s new testing requirements, it remanded the rule, directing the FAA to conduct the proper RFA analysis.
The FAA had determined that repair stations and their subcontractors were
not directly affected by the rule and, therefore, the Administration did not need to complete the RFA analysis. The Court disagreed and, ruling that contractors are directly regulated and entitled to the protections of the RFA, instructed the FAA
to conduct the required analysis. In the meantime, the Court allowed the FAA to enforce the final rule even against small businesses. “We plan to keep the agency’s feet to the fire on the Court-mandated economic-impact analysis to protect
small businesses from undue burdens,” promised Sarah MacLeod, the association’s executive director.