The Annual Repair Symposium began on Wednesday, March 20, when ARSA members had the opportunity to spend time on Capitol Hill, and hear from Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) speak about the importance of political engagement and his personal efforts to educate the administration and lawmakers about the role general aviation plays across the country.
Sarah MacLeod, executive director and one of the founders of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, welcomed everyone the next day to a full agenda of speakers from the ARSA, FAA, CASA, EASA, as well as from industry. Numerous updates were provided regarding recent activities on the legislative and regulatory fronts, rulemaking updates, and international perspectives from EASA and CASA representatives.
John Hickey, Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety with the FAA, addressed the ARSA membership making several interesting comments worth repeating. Hickey commented we are in some very difficult times and went on to describe how sequestration will recast regulators, regulations, FAA oversight, and FAA services provided to industry. He commented the FAA will be pooling resources to address what he described as the new norm and went on to say sequestration cannot be viewed as a one-time event and the changes made to government agencies will continually be seen in the months, perhaps years ahead.
The following day FAA Administrator Michael Huerta began his address to the group by mentioning how America has a high standard for the aviation industry, an impressive safety record, and that personal responsibility and pride cannot be regulated. To all of us working in the aviation industry this is nothing new. However, a gentle reminder is often times good. Of course you can argue perhaps the challenges faced in maintaining this high standard as the industry faces over $600 million U.S. dollars in FAA budget cuts in the coming months. FAA services will be impacted and indications are one of the new norms Hickey mentioned will be a greater emphasis placed on self-oversight.
The Administrator also commented on the benefits to both FAA and industry when ideas are shared and the lines of communication are open on topics of rulemaking. One example was rulemaking committees and Huerta specifically commented on the role of ARSA with the ARC on Consistency in Regulatory Interpretation; the ARC on airworthiness directives and the Safety Management Systems ARC.
My take-away from the symposium was a reinforcement of the importance of involvement with industry organizations. Regardless of your role in aviation, technician to CEO, industry organizations exist for our benefit and involvement by individuals and companies is critical and highly encouraged.