Article: ARSA Joins CRI ARC Letter
The regulatory documents, that define the rules which the FAA requires airlines, airports, airmen, flight attendants, repair stations, AMT and the like. fills all the shelves of a good sized library. The statute is relatively short and the quintessential Federal Aviation Regulations run approximately 1,500 pages. The words of 14 CFR are supplemented by Handbooks, Manuals, Orders, policy guidance and all manner of other official and unauthorized documents. The truly authoritative, but relatively obscure reference is the Legal Interpretations & Chief Counsel’s Opinions. All other views are interesting but not legally binding.
If analyzed objectively many of the regulations, particularly the operational strictures, are intentionally written with some degree of ambiguity. That “looseness” allows the words to grow or contract as exigencies compel.
Consider how consistently, or inconsistently, all those words will be converted into the same interpretation by an individual
· with precisely the same words/meaning
· applying the relevant rule or set of rules
· to very specific fact situations
· involving vastly differently qualified certificate holders
· in incredibly diverse operational and weather environments.
Those factors alone militate toward a wide array of interpretations by one person as each variable is involved. Now, ask a large population of professionals, who are expected to make these judgment calls on a daily basis to articulate what she/he thinks the text means.Those professionals –
· have substantially varying types and levels of education;
· are influenced by substantially differences in lengths, types and depths of experience;
· must meet the daily demands of the vastly different missions of headquarters and field offices; and
· may opine with or without the benefit of supervisory guidance.
Those added variables further multiply out the potential decisions to a practically infinite continuum.
All that said the goal of the Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation Aviation Rulemaking Committee is laudable, but the practicalities that lie before it are challenging on both an intellectual/legal basis (getting the words to match up) and interpersonal (getting the field to read and apply the agreed upon interpretation).
As noted before here, ARSA is the foremost advocate and expert as measured in regulatory interpretations. It’s ire that the FAA used a blunt object, a John Duncan memorandum “Cancellation of Non-official Guidance Documents” , to obliterate the good with the bad. Unfortunately, in order to get the field to the same base, the Duncan missive was necessary (query whether the empowered field will follow this directive).