During the last week of June, committees in both the House and Senate marked up and passed their versions of FAA reauthorization legislation.
For the MRO industry, the news from the Hill is generally positive: nothing hostile in the original bills and no damaging amendments. ARSA and its members have spent months delivering a foundational message about the impact of the maintenance industry and its importance in international commerce. With those messages taking hold, we could focus on positive policy initiatives to address the technician shortage and improve the regulatory environment for repair stations.
What are they?
Getting MRO a Seat at the Table
The House and Senate bills now include maintenance among the aviation stakeholders with spots on the forthcoming Certification and Oversight Advisory Committee. The body also will have representatives from manufacturers and air carriers and is a key part of the larger certification-reform initiative.
Tackling the Skilled-Worker Shortage
The House bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study technical MRO workers to explore workforce challenges facing repair stations (House amendment).
The Senate bill tasks the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee to consider whether and how repairman certificates issued by the FAA should be made portable. Portability could reduce the administrative burden and improve labor mobility (Senate amendment).
The details are still being worked out on an amendment to pilot an FAA grant program for schools, governmental entities and businesses to work together to improve technical education, apprenticeship programs, talent recruitment or military transition opportunities.
Restoring Voluntary Surrender
The Senate bill directs drafting of an FAA rulemaking to restore the right of repair stations to voluntarily surrender their certificates, a right enjoyed by all other certificate holders.
Seeing It Through
The bills’ futures are still uncertain. Debates over air traffic control reform and pilot training could ground the process before the Sept. 30 deadline. While ARSA has urged swift action on a long-term bill, it will fight for these promaintenance initiatives. c
Christian A. Klein is the executive vice president of ARSA.