Change Management.jpg Nigel Howarth/AWST

Change Management

New FAA Flight Standards structure aimed to boost consistency that agency knows is lacking.

Later this month--Aug. 20, to be exact--FAA’s Flight Standards Service will officially be re-organized. 

The changes, in the works for nearly four years, will not be apparent to industry right away. But if all goes as envisioned, the ramifications will become clear to operators and certificate holders—and they will be positive.

“What’s important here is the change in mindset of how we’re doing business,” FAA Fight Standards Director John Duncan said at a recent industry conference, adding that he doesn’t “see any magic” in simply re-arranging an organizational chart.

The org chart is changing—and significantly. Gone will be the duplicative regional structure in place for years. Instead of handling business, such as managing certificates, based on regional proximity, FAA is grouping activities together by subject. The new organization places an executive director above four branch offices: Air Carrier Safety Assurance, General Aviation Safety Assurance, Safety Standards, and Foundational Business. Each will have its own director—a de facto accountable executive.

All of this is part of FAA’s Future of Flight Standards Initiative, the agency’s "service-wide effort to transform the culture of Flight Standards into an organization that facilitates critical thinking, interdependence, and consistency to better serve aviation safety,” it explains in an industry update on the program. "The reorganized Flight Standards will be a streamlined structure that will allow for faster response times, single points of accountability in each functional organization, greater agility and consistency."

The new organizational structure presents "a much more streamlined opportunity to elevate issues that you may have to the right folks and get the answers you need, and get consistent responses,” Duncan elaborated. That last part—consistency across the country—is crucial, Duncan emphasized. Right now, the regional offices work “relatively independently,” Duncan acknowledged.  "We see this as fixing that.”

Since the new organization changes some office names and eliminates others altogether, applying existing guidance and other documents will require some translating. FAA, via its Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) website [], has published a quick-reference sheet, organization codes “crosswalk,” and other documents to help industry along.

FAA pledges to keep the site "continuously updated to reflect the most current office codes, structure, and responsibilities to ensure effective communications continue.”

A positive outlook as part of what FAA pledges is positive change.

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