Peri also notes that most general aviation repair stations employ A&Ps, which are already registered with the FAA. "You have checks and balances in the system and the repair station is focused on producing the highest level safety product at the most affordable price. Safety is never compromised because of trying to put a cheaper product out, but it is part of the process that maximizes efficiency. The FAA, rather than being focused on the product that rolls out the door, is focused on developing this micro-management process that basically makes the FAA part of your management team," Peri states.
As with McNair, Peri's main frustration with the rule is its vagueness. "The whole proposal is vague and included things like the facilities were supposed to provide adequate lighting. The frustration was that there are so many standards in the industry and globally that the FAA could have adopted. They had a wonderful opportunity to modernize the rule," he states.
Another area that NATA is skeptical about is the process for accountability, Peri says. "I can't explain why the FAA wanted it. If you were to get a job at a repair station you'd have to document your life's work history by month and year. For someone who's advanced through the system, it gets tough to do," he states.
Peri indicates the need for the FAA to consider modernizing the rule. "Modernization of this rule lends itself to a creation of a second repair station rule that focuses on the extremely large aircraft they use in air transportation and letting everyone else operate under the existing 145 rules," he states. He adds that while he can appreciate that the FAA has its hands full with airline maintenance, the FAA is crippling general aviation while it tries to get its arms around the commercial carriers.
NATA's proposal on Part 145 was to create a "Part 146 which is applicable to aircraft over 100,000 lbs. and power plants over 12,000 lbs. thrust rating, leaving the rest of the industry to operate under 145," he says. "Because of the quality systems in the proposed rule, even the smallest repair station that contracts to a 146 station or an air carrier directly would have to have the quality system of 146. But, it becomes a business decision for those people who choose to cater to the larger transport industry," he says.
"We have a minimum standard, 145, which is quite adequate for the industry, and has served us well. If the FAA finds there is need to elevate the management of the airlines, then create a 146 for the airlines," he states.
NATA hosted over 33 meetings in 25 states to talk to its members regarding the Part 145 issue, which is now in the review process, Peri says. "The FAA now has to evaluate our comments and see if they were significant enough to amend the proposal and whether or not they can admit the proposal without going out on supplemental ruling," he says.
Peri says that no date has been set for a decision yet, but he hopes to receive a decision by late summer or fall of this year.
As the debate over fractional ownership flooded the industry this year, the Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee (FOARC) was hard at work. The group, representing Part 91 and 135 operators, among others, made its proposal to FAA for a new Subpart K under Part 91. "It is a regulation that was modeled after industry guidelines and practices as well as Part 135," states Andy Cebula, vice president of NATA. Subpart K requires minimum equipment for the aircraft that are similar to 135, requires management specifications similar to Part 135, outlines how fractional programs will conduct operations, safety procedures, recordkeeping, crew training, and equipment maintenance.
The rule also outlines the owner's responsibilities for operation of the aircraft. The unique thing about this rule, according to Cebula, is that there is a similar level of responsibility that is placed onto the program manager. "It's similar to a shared responsibility. There is responsibility for both the fractional owner and the operator where in a management arrangement you don't have that kind of a system," he states. Cebula notes that this makes it easier for the FAA to take action for compliance and enforcement.
One of the FAA's challenges was how to regulate new fractional programs because of the differences from traditional management. Cebula says Subpart K will remedy this situation. "That has made it a little more difficult for the FAA to ensure that there is regulatory accountability. It [Subpart K] goes out of its way to make sure that happens," he says.
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