Industry update - Tickets, alerts and repairs

Feb. 1, 1999

Industry Update

Tickets, Alerts, and Repairs

By Stan Mackiewicz

February 1999

Stan Mackiewicz is the president of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA).

In a December meeting with the members of the General Aviation Action Plan Coalition, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and AVR-1 Tom McSweeney announced that the original design of the program affectionately dubbed The Ticket Program was dead, but that a sibling had been conceived. FAA Inspectors will begin Streamlined Administrative Process training in January, with full implementation targeted for June 1999. Although no tickets will be issued, don't be surprised to find a letter in your mailbox from your local FAA Inspector. The recipient will have seven days to respond to the letter, otherwise, the info simply gets entered into the database. Details of the process became available in January.

Gene Fowler, manager of the General Aviation and Commercial Branch in the Continuous Airworthiness Division is moving to Nashville to be the office manager of the FSDO. Changes of leadership within the FAA are usual, but Gene has been in the position long enough to see the birth of the Airworthiness Safety Program, the wholesale implementation of maintenance orders and bulletins on the Internet, and the pulling together of a savvy team of maintenance professionals to support the field.

The period for comments to the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking for a new rule on the certification of aviation maintenance personnel closed on January 8, 1999. Almost 1,000 comments were submitted for and against the rule. Only 70 comments were submitted the first time the proposed rule was issued. Concerted efforts by PAMA, Aircraft Maintenance Technology magazine, and others got the word out about the rule and its impact. Those that did not submit comments owe a debt of gratitude to those that did. It remains to be seen to what degree the FAA will listen to the many comments and make needed changes.

Without warning, and with only 30 days notice, the FAA announced it was ceasing the publishing of the Alerts Bulletin (AC43-16A) in hard copy due to budget cuts. The FAA added the publication to the Internet last year. This publication is the only widely read, meaningful maintenance document printed by the government. Over 29,000 technicians and pilots read Alerts and get meaningful, real-life safety information. Most of the articles come from reports voluntarily submitted by maintenance personnel who share their knowledge to benefit others. Canceling the published version will destroy the publication in the long run. Let the FAA and Congress know how you feel about this.

The Airworthiness Safety Program is being beefed up. National Resource Specialist Bill O'Brien has been appointed to lead the program. O'Brien, a popular contributor to AMT magazine and outspoken advocate for aviation safety and the individual aviation maintenance technician, will take about a year to fully implement new strategies. Most AMTs with Inspection Authorizations are familiar with O'Brien from his almost 50 IA renewal seminars he conducts annually.

Two Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committees are wrestling with the definitions in FAR Part 1 for Major Repair and Major Alteration. Agreement appears to be near by the two groups to move the definition of Major Repair, change it by eliminating the words "if improperly done," and put it into Part 43 Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alteration. Moving the definition will alleviate problems the air carriers have with the definition and still permit the general aviation community to operate as they have in the past.

PAMA and others think that there should be a specific definition for an aviation "REPAIR" in the rule to remove ambiguity about what it really means. For instance, removing and replacing parts is considered part of maintenance, where the dictionary definition of repair is "to restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken: fix." This dictionary definition does not work if replacement of parts is considered in the definition for Major Repair. Ask the question of yourself, "replacing how many parts makes it major?" One, ten, a wing? You get the picture.

The Part 43 GA and Air Carrier Maintenance ARAC is suggesting the following definition for Repair. "Return an airframe, powerplant, propeller or appliance to a good and usable condition using methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the administrator." Offer your own definition, or tell us what you think about this definition. E-mail to [email protected]. We will pass your comments on to the ARAC.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey names L. Nick Lacey as director of the agency's Flight Standards Service. As director of FAA's Flight Standards Service, Lacey will advise and assist the Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification, Thomas E. McSweeny. Leading an organization of more than 4,500 safety inspectors and other aviation professionals, Lacey's main focus will be on setting safety standards for the aviation industry and overseeing regulatory compliance. Lacey is a military pilot, Air Force general and former VP of Operations of Tower Air. He has served in posts in the DOD and was most recently a consultant. He does not hold an A&P Certificate.