Although the FAA has developed a risk-based assessment process for inspectors to identify areas of greatest concern at repair stations, the agency is emphasizing mandatory inspections and not high-risk areas, according to an audit conducted by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and issued on May 1.
The audit examined 27 randomly selected repair stations in the U.S., Brazil, China, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore that maintain aircraft operated by U.S. Part 121 air carriers.
According to the report, “Due to weaknesses in [the] FAA’s oversight system, inspectors are not effectively targeting surveillance to repair stations with the greatest risk. As a result of the FAA’s insufficient oversight, some repair stations may not be operating in full compliance with federal aviation regulations.”
The auditors examined 119 randomly selected work orders in key areas of deficiency, including training, maintenance processes, tools and equipment, technical data and quality control. Training had the highest number of deficiencies, followed by tools and equipment, then maintenance processes. In one example, while FAA inspectors claimed they found no tool calibration discrepancies during the previous three years at an engine repair shop, the DOT auditors found four tools overdue for calibration.
The FAA concurs with the audit’s recommendations and plans to implement the new Safety Assurance System oversight system in 2015.