Issuing a rule to improve the security of domestic and foreign repair stations should be one of the first duties of recently confirmed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, according to industry representatives. December marks the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush signing into law a bill requiring the issuance of such regulations.
“As [Secretary Johnson] enters office, we want to remind him that for nine percent of the history of manned flight, DHS has not been able to finalize the repair station rule, even after Congress has demanded it time and time again,” said General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) president and CEO Pete Bunce.
Christian Klein, executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (Arsa), agreed with Bunce, adding, “Aviation maintenance companies are losing millions of dollars in potential revenues because the FAA is prohibited from certifying new foreign repair stations until the security rule is finalized. The government should be nurturing small and medium-sized aviation maintenance companies, not obstructing their ability to compete internationally.”
In 2003, Congress passed the Vision 100–Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, which required the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to issue regulations to improve the security of domestic and foreign repair stations by August 2004. In 2007, Congress again called on the TSA, through the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, to finalize repair station rules by August 2008, noting that the FAA would not be able to issue new foreign repair station certifications afterward. The ban has been in effect since that time.
Sarah MacLeod, ARSA executive director, commenting on the stalemate, told AIN, “When industry is punished for an agency’s inaction, there is absolutely no motivation for compliance. The rule is never going to be a priority for the TSA since passing it will cost that agency money to implement and enforce it. With the FAA’s budgetary constraints, there is no motivation to certify more foreign repair stations. Congress created the inequity; unfortunately, it will no doubt take congressional action to correct the injustice.”