House Panel Approves Controversial Foreign Mx Bill

 - November 21, 2019, 11:22 AM

Despite strong objections from industry, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 39-19 to mandate unscheduled inspections and additional standards at FAA-certified foreign repair stations. H.R.5119, the Safety Maintenance Standards Act, further calls for record-keeping requirements and would prevent the FAA from certifying new foreign repair stations until the agency complied with the bill’s mandates.

T&I chairman Pete DeFazio (D-Oregon) introduced the measure last week to address weaknesses in the FAA’s oversight of repair stations abroad that perform significant work on U.S. airline fleets. The bill establishes one standard, regardless of where an aircraft is maintained, he said.

However, 11 aviation organizations this week wrote the T&I leadership, urging them to scrap the bill, saying it would threaten jobs, hurt small businesses, disrupt air travel, and weaken the competitiveness of the U.S. aerospace industry.

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) called H.R.5119 “policymaking at its worst.” Noting the bill was introduced without warning late last week and passed shortly afterward without hearings or opportunity to comment, ARSA v-p Christian Klein said, “No-huddle offense may win football games, but it’s a loser when making policy, particularly in a heavily regulated sector like aviation safety.”

Klein added that it would disrupt both air carrier and general aviation operations, add to the burden of regulators and undermine global aviation regulatory cooperation. “Aviation laws and regulations must be based on facts with safety as the overarching goal. In stark contrast, H.R.5119 is a political bill that will disrupt international travel.”

Committee Republican leaders pointed to industry opposition and said the bill “unilaterally imposes U.S. law on FAA-certificated repair stations in foreign countries, regardless of their compatibility with foreign laws, and prohibits new foreign repair station certificates until new and burdensome regulations are enacted.” Aviation subcommittee ranking member Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) was unsuccessful in offering a substitute during the committee vote.