FAA is establishing a working group to review all repair station guidance and recommend ways to better align it with the agency's rules that govern maintenance organizations.
The effort, set up under FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), gives industry the opportunity to weigh in on the myriad advisory circulars, policy statements, and other guidance that FAA leans on to enforce its Part 145 regulations. The rules apply to the 4,800 FAA-certified repair stations, including 800 located outside the U.S.
"When guidance documents do not reflect current regulatory requirements and FAA…policies, the outcome is an uneven and inconsistent application of agency guidance and standards," FAA explains. "The Part 145 Working Group will provide recommendations to the FAA to support the goal of consistent and clear guidance documents."
Among the key focus areas will be revamping guidance so it fits with the agency's emerging, systems-focused oversight philosophy.
"The agency's policies advocate performance-based oversight," FAA explains. "However, guidance documents, particularly those directed at the agency's workforce are often prescription-based."
News of the ARAC effort was welcomed by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), which represents MRO shops and is a good bet to land a seat on the working group.
“We’re thrilled to see progress getting made on what is a vital task for industry – whether the average repair station recognizes it or not," Sarah MacLeod, ARSA executive director and a past ARAC participant, tells MRO Network. "This is a chance for those of us coping with the agency’s guidance to recommend a method for aligning what the FAA repair station rule actually requires with agency expectations. There’s a long way to go, but this is a good day for maintenance compliance.”
The group will have 24 months to develop a draft report, and another year to finalize it. Working group reports flow through the ARAC and are delivered to FAA.