In a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) said the uncertainty created by Congress’ failure to pass a new, multiyear reauthorization bill for the FAA is wreaking havoc on the aviation industry and undermining the competitiveness of American aviation maintenance providers.
“While the country desperately needs the predictability of a new FAA law, Congress must also ensure that the final legislation does not detrimentally impact the thousands of facilities in communities throughout the country that provide aviation maintenance services,” said Christian Klein, ARSA executive vice president.
The letter follows a renewed sense of urgency on Capitol Hill for completion of a new, long-term FAA reauthorization measure before the Jan. 31, 2012 expiration of the current short-term extension authorizing FAA operations.
“My understanding is the hold-up is about several issues that remain unresolved between the House and Senate, including slots at Reagan National Airport, the future of the Essential Air Service, overall FAA funding, and a provision in the House bill reversing a National Mediation Board dispute about how union petition votes are counted at airlines,” Daniel Fisher, ARSA’s vice president of legislative affairs, told AIN.
“Our goal in this process has been to suggest improvements to the legislative proposals from past years. For example, the FAA reauthorization legislation approved by the House last Congress would have required duplicative biannual inspections of foreign repairs stations and mandated drug-and-alcohol testing for employees at overseas repair stations without regard to other nation’s laws,” he said.
“The provisions would have resulted in the collapse of the U.S. bilateral agreement with the European Union, which would have increased costs for the U.S. aviation maintenance industry. The legislation that passed the House this Congress calls for risk-based inspections. Additionally, both the House and Senate FAA bills mandate drug-and-alcohol testing consistent with the laws of the country where the repair station is located. The House bill’s maintenance provisions in particular are a major improvement over legislative proposals from the last Congress.”
In the letter, ARSA stressed the important role that aviation repair stations play in ensuring aviation safety and reliability. Specifically, the repair station and noncertified maintenance provisions in final legislation must guarantee effective government oversight without unnecessarily increasing industry compliance costs.
According to Klein, failure to enact the right bill would jeopardize the vitality of the industry. “[The aviation maintenance sector] helps air carriers be more reliable, efficient and safe; has a $2.4 billion positive balance of trade; employs more than 274,000 American workers in good paying jobs in all 50 states; and contributes more $39 billion to the U.S. economy.”
“Ultimately, we would like Congress to finalize a multiyear FAA reauthorization bill to restore predictability to U.S. aviation policy, which strikes the right balance between safety, oversight and operational freedom for the aviation maintenance industry,” Fisher explained.