The U.S. aviation industry won’t be getting a final rule on the aircraft repair station security issue until the fourth quarter of this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced. The issue dates back to a 2004 public meeting held by the TSA in response to the Vision 100 Century of Aviation Act passed by Congress in 2003.
The DHS made the announcement after 20 industry leaders sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano asking that the rule, which has been under consideration for eight years, be finalized before the end of last year.
The department issued an NPRM in November 2009 and the issue has been in limbo ever since. This lack of progress is particularly frustrating for the aviation industry given that it provided the TSA with comprehensive comments on the nature and diversity of repair station operations and how to make the rule an effective, risk-based security regulation.
“The DHS inaction is inexcusable, and I’m afraid that it is based on politics more than anything else,” NATA president James Coyne told AIN. “Labor unions have an agenda here, and the administration in an election year is conscious of their political influence. The sad thing is that the continuing delays hurt our economy, our industry, repair stations, their employees and our customers.”
The public comment period closed in February 2010, and work on a final rule has been ongoing for the past 21 months. As of August 2008, the FAA has been barred from issuing new certificates for repair stations outside the U.S.
“Since the DHS did not finish this rulemaking by the end of 2011, we are only left to assume that the department has determined that complying with clear direction from Congress along with industry’s strong desire to get this final rule published is just not important,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA’s president and CEO. “We simply cannot understand the reason behind taking six years to even initiate rulemaking and what will be close to a decade to complete this effort. Industry and DHS agencies have worked collaboratively to make this rule an effective, risk-based security regulation, which makes this delay all the more frustrating to those who have worked hard on the effort.
“We will continue to remind Congress and the American public that this inaction by the DHS puts security and competitiveness at risk. Manufacturers simply cannot wait another 12 months in the unenviable position of trying to weather the current economic downturn while DHS inaction impedes our ability to access potentially profitable emerging markets. We will continue to work with members of Congress who have expressed similar concerns to see that the DHS simply does its job.”