aeroturbine-goodyear-SB.jpg Sean Broderick/AWST

ARSA Protest Triggers FAA Data-collection Change

Unapproved data collections flagged by MRO industry advocates.

FAA has put a halt to data submissions by air carriers and repair stations for the agency's Safety Assurance System (SAS) used to collect and share audit data and determine how to prioritize surveillance. 

The move comes following a Feb. 1 Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) letter that said the SAS data-collection requirements did not comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval before the public is asked to provide data.

"We recognize that the agency has instituted the SAS to implement a risk-based approach to its safety oversight responsibilities," ARSA wrote. "However, those pressures do not relieve the agency of its obligations under other laws passed by Congress; particularly those that reduce the burdens on small businesses. While 'major' air carriers are not small enterprises, many part 135 operators and the majority of 145 certificate holders do fall into that category."

FAA in a Feb. 20 notice to inspectors said that the SAS data capture templates, or DCTs, should be filled out by agency personnel only until further notice. 

"These tools are intended for [FAA] inspector use only and should not be given to the certificate holder to complete," the agency emphasized.

ARSA's letter asked FAA to halt DCT submissions by industry representatives until OMB approval was granted, and FAA said in its notice that it is "in the process of working with" OMB to gain approval. However, given the number of small entities affected, it is not clear that OMB will grant blanket approval. 

A 2016 study by the National Air Transportation Association found that FAA was overseeing 2,150 Part 135 operators. Nearly 70%, or 1,500 operators, employed 10 or fewer people. 

A 2015 analysis done for ARSA found that, among the 4,700 FAA-approved repair stations, the average number of employees was 40, and this figure is skewed by the handful of large MRO providers with several hundred or more on staff.

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