AEA Comments on CASA B-3 Licensing Proposal

Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affair for AEA, recently shared with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia comments from the Aircraft Electronics Association regarding a proposal to modernize rules for the licensing of maintenance personnel for small aircraft.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia
Regulatory Documentation Coordinator
CASA’s Regulatory Development Management Branch
Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
Attention: Mick English

Subject: Proposal to modernize rules for the licensing of maintenance personnel for small aircraft

The Aircraft Electronics Association represents more than 1,300 aviation businesses worldwide and more than 30 facilities in Australia. Our membership includes repair stations that specialize in maintenance, repair and installation of avionics and electronic systems in general aviation aircraft. AEA membership also includes instrument facilities, manufacturers of avionics equipment, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, and educational institutions.

The Association appreciated the opportunity to participate with the rulemaking process. In general, the AEA supports the proposal to modernize rules for the licensing of maintenance personnel for small aircraft and, specifically, the establishment of a B-4 license for avionics engineers on small aircraft.

However, the Association raised issues during the rulemaking process that CASA has not resolved in the final proposal. The area of concern primarily resides with the authority and lack of oversight of the independent licensed engineer as well as the avionics authority of the B-3 engineer.

Issue: The Civil Aviation Act of 1988 mandates CASA to conduct comprehensive aviation industry surveillance, including assessment of safety-related decisions taken by industry management at all levels for their impact on aviation safety. In addition, CASA must conduct regular reviews of the system of civil aviation safety in order to monitor the safety performance of the aviation industry; to identify safety-related trends and risk factors; and to promote the development and improvement of the system.

With the proposal of the B-3 license, CASA has not proposed any process for independent B-3 engineers to register their business with CASA; therefore, CASA has no mechanisms to surveil the industry.

Recommendation: CASA must require B-3 engineers who are working independent of approved maintenance organizations to register their “business” with CASA in order for CASA to have the logistical information necessary to surveil this element of aviation maintenance.

Issue: The Civil Aviation Act of 1988 mandates CASA to develop effective enforcement strategies to secure compliance with aviation safety standards. The proposal does not contain any reasonable ability for CASA to “effectively enforce” the aviation regulations, as required by law, on this new segment of the aviation maintenance industry.

Recommendation: For CASA to meet its legal mandate, it must develop an enforcement strategy before implementation of this rule.

Issue: Small aircraft are routinely used for aerial work involving flights for which the passenger is compensating the pilot for the flight, such as flight training and air tours.  The proposed concept of the B-3 engineer never was intended to include commercial flights. The independent B-3 engineers must not perform maintenance on flight-training or air-tour aircraft. An approved maintenance organization should maintain these aircraft.

Recommendation: Limit the independent B-3’s authority to non-flight-training aircraft, non-air-tour aircraft and non-passenger-compensated flights.

Issue: The AEA supports the limitation that a B-3 engineer can perform only simple maintenance on VFR-only avionics. However, the proposal is not clear as to how the avionics is designated to be only VFR. Because avionics routinely can be removed, replaced and installed in another aircraft, the proposal must clarify: (1) how VFR-only equipment is designated; and (2) the limitation for reinstallation of B-3 maintained avionics equipment in aircraft other than small VFR-only aircraft.

Recommendation: (1) The B-3’s avionics maintenance authority should be limited to equipment TSO’d for VFR use only. (2) Any avionics equipment maintained by a B-3 engineer must be labeled to clearly identify the equipment has not been maintained by an approved AMO and is not eligible for installation in a large or IFR-approved aircraft.

Issue: There are some avionics within every aircraft used by air traffic control and/or other aircraft for making safety-critical decisions. While the B-3 engineer is limited to performing basic maintenance operations on VFR-only avionics, there are some avionics within these aircraft that directly affect the safety and well-being of air transport passengers.

Recommendations: The B-3 engineer may not perform any maintenance on any avionics system that provides position and/or altitude information to the air traffic control system.

The Aircraft Electronics Association appreciates the opportunity to comment on this proposed rule. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 01-202-589-1144, or by e-mail at ricp@aea.net.

Sincerely,
Richard A. Peri
Vice President, AEA Government and Industry Affairs

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Ric Peri, vice president of government & industry affairs for AEA, by email at ricp@aea.net or by phone at 202-589-1144.

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