1. The rule set up some new definitions we have to learn such as "accountable manager," "article," "directly-in-charge," and "line maintenance."
2. It requires a new repair station manual to be developed that explains how the repair station operates and its procedures to ensure the "article" worked on is properly approved for return to service.
3. Requires a new Quality Control manual that is similar to the currently required inspection procedures manual.
4. Allows for satellite repair stations as long as the satellite repair station is in the same country as the repair station that has managerial control over the satellite.
5. Allows Limited-Rating repair stations the option to develop a Capability list which identifies articles by make and model that the repair station can approve for return to service. These articles must be listed on the repair station’s operation specifications.
6. Sets contract maintenance requirements (outside work) including work performed by a non-certificated person.
7. The rule eliminated the limited rating for manufacturers which was no surprise to anyone.
8. Rewrote the housing requirement for an airframe rating to require permanent housing that encloses the largest type and model of aircraft listed on its operations specifications.
9. New FAA foreign repair stations may be issued a certificate based on certification of the CAA of the country where the repair station is located, if there is a bilateral agreement in effect.
10. Training programs must be approved by the FAA and in place in two years.
1. The class and other ratings have not been changed.
2. Operating Specifications are the same as before.
3. The foreign repair stations still must pay a fee and must renew in 12 months after the first certification of the repair station and 24 months after that.
4. Certification of repairman has not changed.
I pride myself on my network of aviation spies I have put together over the years. My operatives work both in the industry and inside the FAA. They feed me bits and pieces of intelligence and wild rumors on such things as new regulatory issues and industry developments, which I, in turn, mull over; separating the good stuff from the bad, in an effort to see "the big picture." Some of the time, my "big picture" view of aviation has a bad horizontal hold, but there have been times when my insider information has put me on top of new developments, and, as we all know, knowledge is power. The power trip comes in when I choose whom, when, and where to share the information. I set the stage, usually when we are all taking a coffee break, and then with the quiet confidence of one who knows the fight has been fixed, I prophesy on future developments. This "Oracle of Delphi" technique of mine, in turn, invokes a sense of awe and grudging respect among my peers, which is not a bad thing for a government employee when you have nothing else going for you. But I must admit, despite my vast resources, I was caught flat-footed the other day when I heard the new Part 145 was signed and released on August 6th as a final rule.
Quick history lesson
Repair stations were first created in 1938 by the Civil Aeronautics Act and later re-codified into the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) in 1962. So, repair stations have been with us for quite some time and pre-date the FAA by some 20 years. The present drive to update Part 145 started in 1989 with four public meetings to determine what revisions to the rule should be made. As a result of the meetings, some policy changes and Advisory Circulars (AC) were written, but rulemaking was put on hold because we found ourselves in a "Harmonizing" mode in the early 1990s with the new Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) in Europe. The problems in trying to get us and over 27 other countries to agree on a common set of aviation regulations is daunting enough when you consider that in the last 1,000 years, every member country declared war on every other member country at least once. This one fact makes for some interesting conversations and long delays at arriving at a solution.
Ten years later...
So we had to wait to June 21, 1999, when the FAA published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). FAA, as a result of requests from the industry, extended the comment period from October 19, 1999 to December 3, 1999. In all, the FAA received just 530 comments on a rule that will affect approximately 5,000 repair stations. For the next 18 months, the Part 145 rule was bounced around the FAA, DOT, and the Office of Management and Budget folks trying to solve the unresolved political and regulatory issues. Because of issues and other problems attached to the rule, I thought it would remain in somebody’s in-box at least until late next year, but, to my surprise, the new rule was published on August 6, 2001.
Any time a new rule hits the pavement, the first thing you should look for is the effective date of the rule. Effective date is the date the new rules become a mandatory part of your life. The effective date for Part 145 Repair Stations is April 6, 2003, or, in 20 months from the time I wrote this article. There is one exception, Section 145.163 Training Program, the effective date for compliance is August 6, 2005, or, two years from the effective date of the rule.
A few surprises
The new Part 145 does hold a few surprises. First, the new rule has three less regulations (33 versus 36) than the old rule. Also, it has removed Appendix A (equipment requirements for a class rating.) entirely, pending industry comment. By the way, any comments, pro or con, on appendix A must be submitted to the FAA no later than October 5, 2001. The address is in the NPRM.
When you read the rule in its entirety you will find that it seems pretty straightforward, and you should be able to get through it without too many "what the hey?" comments. I especially like Section 145.3 Definition of Terms where the Accountable Manager (AM) is defined. The rule describes the AM in more legal language but for my purposes, the AM is basically the guy who holds the wet paper bag of responsibility for the whole repair station. But more importantly, the AM requirement is a good example of the JAA influence on this rule.
You can get an electronic copy using the Internet by pulling up http://dms.dot.gov/search. On the search page, type in the last four digits of the Part 145 docket number: 5836 and click "Search." When the page comes up, click on Part 145 docket number:FAA-1999-5836. or go to the Federal Register’s web site at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html. The final rule is 151 pages long so make sure you printer has plenty of paper.
Or, you can also get a copy by submitting a request to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make sure to identify the amendment number or docket number of this rulemaking.
Not necessarily "Business as usual"
I do not want you to think that this rule is business as usual. I will not sugarcoat the facts, this Part 145 Repair Stations is a very complex rule, and it will impact the organizational design of your repair station, manuals, personnel, record keeping, training management and housing. There will be a few all-nighters in your future putting together the new repair station manual, quality control manual, and employee training program to meet the effective date of this rule. One good thing is you have 20 months to pull this off and you should do it the same way you would eat an elephant — one bite at a time. So, start at the first section of the rule and work though it.
The second good thing about this final rule is that the rules requiring new repair station and quality control manuals actually lists what information each manual should contain. This takes away the frustration of trying to second guess what your Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) wants to see in a manual.
However, when I got to read Section 145.163 Training Requirements, I found it a little nebulous. The rule is quite clear when it requires initial and recurrent training for each employee who is assigned to perform maintenance and inspection functions, but it does not identify the subject areas that a good training program should cover such as:
• To what level will the subject be taught?
• Must it be all formal classroom or is OJT allowed?
• What are the minimum qualifications of the instructor?
• Will there be written, practical or oral tests?
Miles to go before we sleep
Obviously, at least dealing with Section 145.163, the folks in AFS-300 Aircraft Maintenance Division have a lot of homework to do and I suspect they will be burning the midnight oil to get all the associate policy and advisory material out to industry way before the established rule deadlines or there will be hell to pay — or so my spies tell me.