NATA sponsors survey of FAA inconsistencies

 - August 25, 2009, 10:12 AM

With the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewing the lack of standardization in how FAA field inspectors interpret and apply requirements on regulated entities, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has begun surveying its membership on their experiences with the various agency offices.

NATA asked some members of Congress to request that the GAO study address “the mounting dilemma member companies face in dealing with the inconsistencies with interpretations among local FAA offices.”

Currently, nine FAA regions, 10 aircraft certification offices (ACO) and more than 80 flight standards district offices (FSDO) each issue approvals on a wide range of maintenance and operational requests. According to NATA, the regulated entities continue to be challenged by regulatory interpretations that often vary from one inspector within an FSDO or ACO to another.

These varying interpretations of how to achieve or demonstrate compliance with federal aviation regulations are estimated to cost general aviation businesses hundreds of millions of dollars annually when previously approved actions are subject to “reinterpretation.”

“We are asking interested aviation businesses that are certified by the FAA to complete a brief anonymous survey [accessible via a link on NATA’s homepage] that will allow the association to present summary data related to this important issue,” said NATA vice president Eric Byer. Regulated entities include Part 135 on-demand air charter operators, Part 145 repair stations and Part 141 and 61 flight training facilities. The survey will be accessible through September 14.

NATA will compile the survey data received and provide a summary of the results to the GAO. The association hopes the final GAO report will prove the significance of the issue, highlight a need for change within the FAA and propose solutions that can address the problem.