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Shutdown Backlog Triggers Repair-station Certificate Extensions

Move affects more than 140 U.S.-based shops, and could be used in Europe as well.

FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have agreed to grant extensions to scores of dual-certified repair stations with certificate expiration dates in early 2019, ensuring that the recent U.S. government shutdown will not hold up routine renewals.

The agencies have given 60-day extensions to about 140 U.S.-based shops, an exchange of letters confirms. Extensions may also be granted to European-based shops facing FAA renewals. The letters were made public by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.

The recent partial government shutdown furloughed more than 800,000 U.S. government employees, including FAA inspectors and other personnel involved in repair station oversight and renewals. While the shutdown ended Jan. 25 after 36 days, FAA and EASA are adopting the extensions in lieu of a required EASA Form 9--FAA's recommendation that the shop be certified, part of a broader package confirming regulatory compliance--to remove the risk of a paperwork backlog holding up renewals.

"Although the shutdown is now suspended, a number of FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency certificated maintenance organizations in both the U.S. and Europe have certification approval renewals coming due that might still be affected by the shutdown period," EASA Flight Standards Director Jesper Rasumussen wrote.

The agencies cited a provision in the bilateral's Maintenance Annex Guidance that permits short-term extensions in "based on exceptional circumstances." FAA emphasized that the extensions will be accompanied by "desktop" reviews of each shop by inspectors using FAA's risk-analysis tools. The paperwork and data reviews will help "maintain an acceptable level of risk" during the extension period, FAA Flight Standards Service Executive Director Rick Domingo wrote.

FAA and EASA have granted dual certifications to about 2,000 repair stations, including 1,500 in the U.S. Each agency relies on the other's inspectors to ensure the shops comply with both sets of regulations--part of a broader regulatory harmonization effort that saves manpower and cuts down on redundant processes for companies.

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