Changes and amendments to FAA Operations Specifications (OpSpecs) often serve as a proxy for agency rulemaking or regulation, thus bypassing prescribed channels, according to a government-industry rulemaking committee.
The Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation (CRI) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) found that the proliferation of OpSpecs creates inconsistent application and confusion among operators. To address this confusion, the committee recommended that the FAA periodically review the reasons for each OpSpecs paragraph.
More specifically, the CRI ARC recommended that the FAA remove OpSpecs with redundant requirements, such as merely repeating regulatory language. The group suggested that OpSpecs clearly delineate between a safety requirement that must be followed by the certificate holder (and can be appealed if disagreement surfaces) and data collection activity for FAA internal or external use, which is used as a convenient method of holding information, but is not “required to be followed” in the interest of safety.
“OpSpecs should not be used as proxies for rulemakings,” said Aeronautical Repair Station Association executive director Sarah MacLeod. “Curtailing amendments and other changes to OpSpecs eliminates the potential for circumventing the rulemaking process and provides greater clarity.”
The committee’s findings follow its November 2012 primary recommendations that the FAA should review all guidance documents and interpretations, identify and cancel outdated material and cross-reference (electronically link) material to the applicable rule.