By Stan Mackiewicz
July / August 1998
FAA Management Advisory Council - MAC for short, is currently being developed. Chartered and defined along with the National Civil Aviation Review Commission in a '96 Senate Commerce Committee bill, the MAC is intended to be a diverse composition of aviation community representatives who will provide management guidance to the Administrator.
The list of nominees is at the White House and its make-up is a closely guarded secret. At least one senior aviation association executive is included in the list of potential committee members. A fear is that the General Aviation community and more particularly the maintenance community will be excluded from representation much like the membership of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission.
Guy Gardner to leave FAA
Administrator Garvey recently announced that Guy Gardner, Assistant Administrator for Regulation and Certification, is turning in his rulebook and is leaving the FAA. This highly regarded astronaut will be using his talents as a speaker to motivate young people nationwide. A long delay in filling this Assistant Administrator's position will further add to the logjam of regulatory action stacked between the Regulation and Certification Branch and the Office of Chief Counsel.
Guess what? Your name is secure with the FAA. Recent determinations by the Office of Chief Counsel have determined that your name in the pilot or mechanic's directory (FAA database in Oklahoma City) cannot be released to the public. No more will someone be able to determine that you are involved with aviation. This enforcement of the Federal Privacy Act could have an adverse effect on the distribution of time sensitive information to pilots and maintenance personnel.
Advisory material explicitly prohibits individual aviation maintenance technicians from signing an 8130-3 Airworthiness Approval Tag. (See FAA order 8130-21B). Given that the tag (a replacement for the yellow tag) has become a standard in the industry, the net effect is to prevent a certificated A&P from transferring parts. Some believe this is an unintended consequence of the fervor to eliminate bogus parts from the industry. Some aviation executives are calling for a rethinking of the restriction. Only authorized air agencies can currently use the form -- this includes repair stations, air carriers, manufacturers, and some specialized individuals such as Designated Engineering Representatives.
FAA and Boeing 737 Maintenance
The flying public is giving some kudos to Jane Garvey, FAA Administrator, for her no nonsense, quick response to the potential wiring difficulties in older 737 aircraft. The inspections and repairs did not unduly affect flights.
Part 66 at DOT
A senior FAA official confirmed that Part 66 was looping again through the approval cycle that is beginning to look like a gerbil run. The FAA is required to resubmit the proposal to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation to review what are reported to be minor changes to the rule. This NPRM is becoming an embarrassment to senior officials who are trying to demonstrate that they can get things done in the agency rather than creating a repeat of the Part 145 NPRM experience.
Aviation Maintenance Medicine
PAMA News is launching a series of articles on the health and welfare of the individual aviation maintenance technician. Written by James Allen, MD, a noted Occupational Medicine Specialist, the articles will stress hazards and recommend safety procedures. PAMA News is a member benefit of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association. (To join PAMA, call 202-216-9220.)
Action Plan Coalition Focus on Pilots and ATC
Pilot and airway systems dominate the current thinking processes at the FAA. Department of Transportation Secretary Slater has prescribed a major reduction in accidents. Priorities will be determined by analysis of data acquired through an improved information-gathering system. You can expect to see the money and programs follow the highest causes of accidents: pilot operations and ATC. Maintenance is such a small part of the accident statistic that subjects affecting us are overlooked. This is good news and bad news. The good news is the maintenance community may not be hobbled by knee-jerk reactions and unintended consequences that often come from regulators under political and public pressures. The bad news is that budget money for items that need to be done is cut or remains the same.
Airworthiness Safety Program Managers
The Airworthiness (maintenance) Safety Program has gained some upstairs help in the FAA. Acknowledged as being "in its infancy," this General Aviation program will get support through integration into the overall FAA safety mission. Watch for more involvement soon including a new poster highlighting personal aviation maintenance minimums and the appointment of additional dedicated Airworthiness Safety Program Managers in the FAA regional offices and FSDOs.