AEA says don’t be fooled; FAA’s Part 145 NPRM is costly
Oct. 29, 2012, Lee's Summit, Mo. - The Aircraft Electronics Association is speaking out against the Federal Aviation Administration's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for Part 145 repair stations at the 65th annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Meeting & Convention, Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Orlando, Fla.
"This proposal makes wholesale changes to the avionics industry with damaging and costly repercussions," said Paula Derks, AEA president. "At a time when avionics and electronic systems are interfaced with every mechanical system on the aircraft, the FAA proposes to remove radio and instrument ratings and allow airframe-rated repair stations to work on electronics without adequate oversight.
"The rule proposes a 24-month transition period to reissue new certificates, and there is no implementation period. With the current lack of FAA workforce and sequestration initiatives, how will the agency approve and reissue certifications to 4,000 repair stations in a 24-month period? Without the FAA's ability to service an application in a timely manner, businesses will close.
"Contrary to the FAA's claim, this proposal does not reflect current repair station aircraft maintenance and business practices, or advances in aircraft technology. It simply does not recognize avionics as a profession. These changes would not modernize the regulations to keep pace with current industry standards and practices. Rather, they would roll modern aviation back to the days of round motors and tube radios from the 1930s."
In addition, Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, stated "The AEA has received second-hand information that various user groups, as well as certain FAA inspectors, have incorrectly assumed and promoted that the Part 145 NPRM proposal only applies to repair stations that cater to Part 121 air carriers. This is not true and is disturbing. This proposal applies to all repair stations regardless of its customer bases."
The AEA's major concerns with this proposed rule are as follows:
Cost to Comply: The cost to comply and transition to this new rule will impose a huge monetary investment on repair stations. This proposed rule requires revision and approval of all three repair station manuals, as well as developing and managing a list of capabilities. The FAA is not accounting for the man-hours needed for a repair station to revise its manuals and create capability lists.
Lack of Time to Transition: The rule proposes a 24-month implementation period to reissue new certificates for all repair stations. With the current lack of FAA workforce and sequestration initiatives, how will the agency provide the resources needed to approve and reissue certifications to 4,000 repair stations in a 24-month period? If a repair station certificate is not reissued within the 24-month time period, the previous certificate is no longer valid and businesses will not be able to operate as a Part 145 repair station.
Avionics Profession Loses Its Identity: Under this proposal, the system of ratings would be reduced from eight ratings to five ratings. The ratings definitions would be revised to indicate the type of work that a repair station is authorized to perform. But, it also removes radio and instrument ratings and allows airframe-rated repair stations to repair and alter radios and instruments without any specific ratings or obvious qualifications.
Costly & Time-Consuming Capabilities List: This proposal does not specifically require a capability list, but does require a listing of capabilities for all repair stations. This is a potentially marked change for repair stations with class ratings that do not currently have a capability list of the items they maintain. Also, capabilities list, or list of capabilities, will be subject to a line-item review every 24 months. This requirement will force repair stations to hire additional staff to maintain these lists.
No Mobility: Each certificated repair station must provide and maintain suitable permanent housing for the facilities, equipment, materials and personnel consistent with its ratings. It appears this provision would prohibit mobile operations. Currently, the regulations allow for a permanent "fixed location" but not permanent housing. In addition, the proposal would not allow "space available" contracts with landlords.