So you have your A&P certificate and can start turning wrenches, right? Well, not so in the great state of Washington. Certificated airmen who live there must register with the Washington State Department of Transportation and pay an annual registration fee.
I first found out about this registration requirement in February while talking to Bret Story, a reader who works in Spokane, WA. Mr. Story informed me that there is a law in Washington that forces all airmen including mechanics to register with the state. State law (R.C.W. 47.68.234) requires all airmen to register for $15.00 a year, renewed on the applicant's birthday. Looking at the law, it states that $7.00 of the registration fee is to "be deposited into the aeronautics account, to be used solely for airport maintenance." The other money is to be used for "search and rescue of lost and downed aircraft and airmen or airwomen under the direction and supervision of the secretary; and safety and education."
So, with all the money that these fees generate, the mechanics in Washington state must have some really nice IA training seminars each year, right? Well, there are two seminars each year, but there is one catch. The seminars are not free. Participants must pay $100.00 to attend each seminar.
So why isn't a portion of the monies generated by the registration fees used to offset the costs of the seminars? After all, if $8.00 out of each registration fee goes in part toward "safety and education" wouldn't IA seminars qualify?
In terms of safety, does charging $100.00 for an IA seminar promote safety? In IA seminars I have attended throughout the country, none are that expensive. Some are free, some charge up to $50.00 to attend. Some apparently charge $100.00. Not that I have anything about paying for an IA seminar, but I find it ironic that the ONLY state that requires mechanics and other airmen to pay an annual registration fee is also the state that charges the most for its seminars. It appears that whatever money is being generated by this revenue is not being re-invested in the maintenance community.
Another reason that the IA seminars there aren't less expensive could be a loophole in the registration requirement itself. Each year, many mechanics end up getting exemptions from the registration requirement. Mechanics that work for Boeing, companies that manufacture products for Boeing, and other manufacturers and repair stations are exempt from having to register. If you think about it, that leaves a small percentage of mechanics that are registering in the state and helping pay for these aviation projects. This seems unfair! Either require everyone to pay up or take the law off the books.
Fabienne Theberge, customer service specialist of Aviation Services of the Washington DOT, told me that if any mechanic in Washington has a question about the registration process or would like to see if they are eligible for an exemption, to contact her at (360) 651-6302.
If you are a mechanic working in the state of Washington and feel that this law is unfair, I would encourage you to contact your legislators and tell them to strike this law from the books! The state of Washington shouldn't be determining who can work on airplanes in their state. That is the FAA's job. An A&P certificate gives you that right ? not a Washington state registration slip!
Some practical observations on the Pilots Bill of Rights
Early on in my aviation career, as a young mechanic with hair, I kept hearing about and just as quickly forgot about, the code.
Notice Number: NOTC4498. Design will honor Charles Taylor.
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