Creation of the FAA RCCB satisfies a long-standing industry recommendation that will help address variance in regulatory interpretation. Christian Gidlof/wikiPedia
Creation of the FAA RCCB satisfies a long-standing industry recommendation that will help address variance in regulatory interpretation.

FAA Paves New Path For Regulatory Standardization

Checking another item off its “to do” list, the FAA recently established the Regulatory Consistency Communication Board (RCCB). The purpose of the board—made up of Flight Standards Service (AFS) and Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) leaders, policy office personnel and chief counsel representatives—is to facilitate an established methodology to consistently document, track and respond to inquiries regarding regulatory intent and application.

Creation of the RCCB is the fourth of six recommendations made by the Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (CRI ARC) in 2012. The committee was created via congressional mandate after a 2010 Government Accountability Office report highlighted variance in FAA regulatory interpretation. In its final report, the CRI ARC set forth its vision and action plan for RCCB implementation.

The primary driver for the RCCB recommendation was the need for timely resolutions. Under the new framework—provided for in FAA Order 8000.70—named stakeholders receive acknowledgment of their submission within five days, a plan for disposition within 15 days, and a resolution timeline within 45 days. Final determinations are posted on the Flight Standards Information Management System webpage (from the main page click on Publications, then Other Documents; decisions are listed under the subheading “RCCB”), which affords the recommended feedback loop.

In their comments on the draft order, CRI ARC members pointed out several shortcomings, including the absence of external stakeholder collaboration and lack of differentiation between the RCCB and other similar processes, such as the Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI). However, in its comments the group also recognized the important role the RCCB will play, especially when regulatory issues cross between AFS and AIR jurisdictions.

As MacLeod comments: “The TCDS matter is particularly suited for the RCCB to address because it requires collaboration from both flight standards and aircraft certification.” The board fills a void previously apparent when certificate holders struggled to find resolution on a matter that required coordination between AIR and AFS. RCCB procedures mandate regular meeting attendance for all internal stakeholders and require concurrence from both AIR-1 and AFS-1 before a final decision is published.

While a single-track issue does not preclude the RCCB from “accepting” it for resolution, matters best suited for the board’s consideration are those that require buy-in from AFS and AIR. The agency will retain the CSI process, which it maintains should be utilized to appeal, or request reconsideration of a decision handed down by a local inspector. The RCCB should, theoretically, provide an alternative pathway for maintenance providers when issues are precipitated across multiple flight standards district offices or cross into aircraft certification territory.

The RCCB process standardizes reports of regulatory inconsistency through an online submission form. Stakeholders can make identified or anonymous electronic submissions at  faa.gov/regulations_policies/faa_regulations/rccb/.

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