FAA Publishes Repair Station Final Rule

SUMMARY:
In a very public win, the Federal Aviation Administration published its final rule that dropped the changes to the repair station rating system and retained only the authority to deny an application for a new repair station certificate if the applicant or certain associated key individuals had materially contributed to the circumstances that caused a previous repair station certificate revocation action.

The rule also adds a new section prohibiting fraudulent or intentionally false entries or omissions of material facts in any application, record or report made under the repair station rules.

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS: 
On May 21, 2012, the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking titled "Repair Stations" (77 FR 30054). In the NPRM, the FAA proposed to amend the regulations for repair stations by revising the system of ratings, the repair station certification requirements and the regulations applicable to repair stations providing maintenance for air carriers. The proposal also addressed the National Transportation Safety Board recommendation (discussed previously) by proposing amendments that would permit the FAA to deny certain applicants new certificates based on its enforcement history.

The FAA received more than 230 public comments to the NPRM. The majority of the commenters, including the Aircraft Electronics Association, had serious concerns with the proposed changes, and many suggested withdrawing the entire proposal.

Although the majority of the commenters recognized that the system of ratings is outdated, there was general dissatisfaction with the proposed new system of ratings and the transition process. Commenters also expressed concerns on the proposals for a capability list, recurring audit, letter of compliance, permanent housing, facilities and equipment, and the FAA's proposed authority to deny a repair station application.

As a result of the substantive comments received by the FAA, it has withdrawn most of the changes proposed in the NPRM.

In addition to prohibiting fraudulent or intentionally false entries, this final rule also will make the following amendments:

  • A revision to Sec. 145.55 to add a new paragraph (c)(3) to require that a repair station outside the United States applying for certificate renewal must show the required fee has been paid.
  • A revision to Sec. 145.57 to add a requirement in paragraph (a)(1) that a certificate change is necessary if the repair station certificate holder changes the name of the repair station.
  • A revision to Sec. 145.57(b), which currently requires that if a repair station's assets are sold, the new owner must apply for a certificate. The revision clarifies that a new owner will need to apply for a new certificate only if the new owner chooses to operate as a repair station.
  • Revisions to Sec. 145.153, 145.157 and 145.213 to add the terms "appropriately" before "certificated" and "as a mechanic or repairman" before "under Part 65" in three instances. Under these amendments, supervisors and persons authorized to inspect and approve an article for return to service would, at a minimum, have to hold a certificate appropriate for the work being performed (e.g., a mechanic or a repairman certificate).
  • A revision to Sec. 145.155 to remove the word "and" at the end of paragraph (a)(2). Since no Sec. 145.155(a)(3) currently exists, it is an error for "and" to appear after paragraph (a)(2), and its removal corrects this error.
  • A revision to Sec. 145.163 to add the term "and use" after "must have" in paragraph (a). This section requires a repair station to have an approved training program, but does not provide a specific requirement that the program be used. This revision is necessary to clarify the intent of the current rule that repair stations must have and use an employee training program approved by the FAA.
  • In addition, a correction was made that was not proposed in the NPRM. Specifically, Sec. 145.221(a) is corrected to remove the erroneous insertion of the word "serious" when addressing the service difficulty reporting requirements from any failure, malfunction or defect. The word "serious" was removed through notice and comment rulemaking in the 2001 final rule entitled "Repair Stations," (66 FR 41088, Aug. 6, 2001) that significantly revised Part 145. The word "serious" was inadvertently inserted by a separate final rule entitled "Service Difficulty Reports," (65 FR 56191, Sept. 15, 2000).  

AEA COMMENTARY:
The AEA is extremely pleased that the comments submitted were taken seriously and the resultant final rule is quite reasonable.

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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