The FAA’s deputy associate administrator of aviation safety spoke at the Aircraft Repair Station Association (ARSA) symposium in Washington recently and identified safety as a moving target for the industry. “A little over a year ago I became the deputy associate administrator of aviation safety. Having worked in aviation my entire career, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what aviation safety meant, but this job opened my eyes. Aviation safety is complex; it’s hard work. We all believe that what we do or what we deliver is to the highest standards of quality and safety, but the truth is those standards are always changing.
“We’re always looking for ways to continuously improve safety because we’re never going to reach a certain level or metric and be able to sit back knowing our job is done. Safety is like golf; you can never master the sport, so your goal has to be to keep getting better, to keep improving. I know ARSA and the FAA may not always see eye to eye–there are times we might even completely disagree–but we’re in this together. We share a common commitment to safety and the best interest of our industry.”
Hickey cited the foreign repair station issue as a hot topic and said the FAA continues to monitor reauthorization as it “winds its way through the legislative process.”
The House has passed its version of the FAA reauthorization bill and the Senate recently passed its own version. The two bills will now have to go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences. One of the most significant differences between the two versions is the foreign repair station inspection requirement.
“As far as foreign repair stations go, the House bill requires a minimum of two FAA inspections per year for every foreign repair station, and the Senate bill provides for the same but with an exception when we have a bilateral safety agreement in effect. The House bill conflicts with the intent of our pending safety agreement with Europe, while the Senate version would appear to provide for the agreement. Obviously this would be a challenge for you and for us, but we have to see how it plays out. I can tell you though that we were recently in a meeting with Congressman Oberstar, and he clearly and forcefully reiterated his support for FAA inspections at foreign repair stations.”