“The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (Arsa) has been quite clear…it does not see the need for security rules at contract repair stations,” Edward Wytkind, president of U.S. trade union the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department, wrote in a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The August 24 letter comes in response to an industry letter sent to Napolitano earlier in the week inquiring about the status of the repair station security rulemaking and urging Napolitano to publish the rule before year-end. The industry letter, signed on behalf of Arsa, NBAA and 10 other industry groups, cites Napolitano’s promise that the controversial repair station security rule would be completed by the end of this year.
“As you know, the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act required the TSA to issue security rules for all aviation repair stations by August 2004. When the TSA did not meet this deadline, Congress required the security regulations be completed by August 2008 in Public Law 110-53, the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act. As a result of the TSA’s failing to comply with this mandate, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been prohibited from issuing new foreign repair station certifications since 2008,” the letter said.
The controversy between the industry trade groups and the labor unions over the legislation is rooted in the perception that U.S. jobs will be lost to foreign repair stations authorized by the FAA to work on U.S.-registered aircraft. Congress has imposed a moratorium on approving new foreign repair stations until the TSA implements the mandated security regulations. The industry groups suggest that unfairly punishes industry for the TSA’s failure to act.
“… the industry lobby seeks a final rule simply to lift the statutory ban on certifying additional foreign repair stations. Putting aside the industry’s predictable claim that the moratorium on new foreign repair stations is having a detrimental impact on U.S.-based companies, we submit that the security of U.S. air travel must drive the final decision regarding both the content and timing of this rulemaking,” Wytkind wrote.
Daniel Fisher, v-p of legislative affairs for Arsa, told AIN he takes issue with Wytkind’s assertion. “The safety record of the aviation maintenance industry speaks for itself, and Arsa members operate with the belief that good security is good business. While Arsa questions the need for the security rule in the first place, the fact is Congress mandated the regulations more than 11 years ago and industry is being punished for the agency’s failure to act. The TSA has shown that it can move quickly when there is truly a safety threat and in this case, implicit in the TSA’s delay is that it doesn’t perceive repair station security to be a problem. Nonetheless, I think everyone can agree further delay by the TSA is unacceptable and the agency must be held accountable to meet its deadline to complete the rules by the end of the year.”