PART 66 - A BEGINNING OR THE END?
Will it spell the demise of the general aviation technician?
By Stephen P. Prentice
Airline pilots only recently succeeded in getting rid of a so called two-tier employment system. If the new proposed Part 66 is passed it will create a two-tier mechanic certification system. Is this a good idea?
If you haven't been living in a cave these past months, you have undoubtedly heard that the rules governing aircraft technicians and their training are in for a drastic change. Comment period for the proposed changes now ends on January 6, 1999 as reported on the Web recently. Here are some highlights...
DOCKET NO. 27863, NOTICE NO. 98-5
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been released and it was published in the Federal Register on July 9 of this year. All technicians are urged to read it and more importantly, submit an opinion to the FAA on it by letter or e mail.
The most contentious parts seem to be the creation of two technician certifications, recurrent training, currency, and the seemingly endless talk of conforming to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and JAA (Joint Aviation Authority) rules — meaning European rules. A copy of the proposed rulemaking can be downloaded from the net at www.atec-amt.com/news.html, or also e-mail FAA about this to: 9-NPRM-CMTS@faa.dot.gov.
The air carrier business has been pushing for these changes for a long time. In order to conform to European JAA employment structure and proposed Canadian changes. They all have been pushing for the creation of an air carrier technician who will be trained for a longer period of time and have a speciality status unlike anything we have seen so far. Many of those in the trade question why do we have to do things like the Europeans? Their system is seen by many as confining, complex, and unproductive. We don't have to be mental giants to note that the JAA has been pushing our FAA for conformity with their system for a long time now, even though we are not members of the Joint Aviation Authority in Europe. Some see the day coming where our technicians, pilots, and perhaps others, will be controlled by big brother in Europe. Just watch!
Part 66 need not be abandoned but many feel some refinement is needed. There are some good parts proposed. Instructor status is a good idea, and to some extent, so is recurrent training. However, many of our people say that our system is fine as it stands and there is no need to change it so drastically just for the sake of change.The preamble to the proposed rule states that there is a "problem" with the present system. Well, everyone that I speak with say there will be a bigger problem with a two-tier system and it is going to create a big time shortage of technicians.
The reasoning given in the NPRM for these proposed changes are said to be based on the following:
• Numerous technical advances in the aviation industry
• Recent FAA and international regulatory activities
• Aging aircraft
• Enhancements in training methods
• Confusion among airmen regarding Part 65
I for one don't recall much confusion in the ranks of the technicians I deal with, and as for the other bases for the changes noted above, I think they are a little strained. Sure, we need some kind of upgraded basic education and perhaps recurrent training, but I just don't think we need the creation of two levels of training.
For example, take the education requirements that are proposed. The FAA would, under the new rule, set out a basic education program that will require more hours than a college graduate gets in going for a college degree. The technician, however, will not have a degree after completing the additional hours.