The Senate’s version of the FAA Reauthorization Act is a game-changer. Here are the reasons for this reversal of bad statutory authority, what specifically it did and what still must be done.
The globe is getting smaller. Air Transportation has shrunken the distances between countries. Trade globalization is gradually linking the economies of sovereign nations. The Internet has reduced the cycles of production and order fulfillment. The aerospace industry is among the leaders of diversifying its suppliers—in part to create “presences” in the countries where they sell and partially to find lower cost options. That network of production and of sales depends upon and even benefits from the relationships between the FAA and other CAAs in all of these locations.
The below two articles demonstrate how governments are following this trend of extending their influence by creating links with their foreign counterparts. This global cooperation is extended by bilateral airworthiness agreements, harmonization of standards, air traffic control collaboration, technical assistance contracts, etc.
The EU has established a Pan European goal of extending their sphere of influence, as announced in major promotional aviation initiative called an “Aviation Strategy for Europe” on December 7, 2015. This marketing campaign’s goal is “to bolster the continent’s €110 billion aviation sector” by negotiating new international relationships with other countries. The target of this sales effort is new “air transport agreements, revising safety regulations and investing in new technology.” Olivier Jankovec, director General of ACI Europe, commented that this package is a set of actions aimed at opening up access to key external markets and addressing capacity problems in the air and at airports, all while maintaining the highest levels of safety and security. He said that “the Commission has gotten it right – taking stock of the increasing strategic relevance of air connectivity for our economy.”
In furtherance of its Aviation Strategy, the European Commission has opened negotiations with China and Japan in view of concluding Bilateral Air Safety Agreements (BASA). Such agreements enhance air safety worldwide and contribute to the global competitiveness of the European aviation industry by cutting red-tape and facilitating exports. If that is not clear enough, the author of this aggressive posturing gave the following statement:
“In January I told the Aviation Summit that 2016 is the time for delivery of the Aviation Strategy. I am delighted that it is starting to pay off so early. The new Bilateral Air Safety Agreements we are pursuing will offer European companies new business opportunities in China and Japan, two key aeronautical nations. More trade means more growth and jobs in Europe, a priority of President Juncker.”
Europe is returning to its colonial roots.
Within the Asia/Pacific region, the news is that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Civil Aviation Bureau of Japan (JCAB) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to jointly promote air traffic management (ATM) transformation in the Asia Pacific. The MoC focuses on sharing of information, knowledge and expertise between the two organizations, leading to joint efforts in Air Traffic Management. Given the leading edge nature of NextGen, the FAA should be offering this sort of support.
The FAA’s budgetary limitations have forced it to close its overseas offices and that does not help the cause. Congress in 1996 Public Law 104-264, § 401 at page 42, struck the word “promote” from the FAA’s statutory mission statement. It did so based on the mistaken belief that the agency staff was out selling US products overseas. In fact the “promote” verb was directed at “civil aeronautics and safety” as objects of that directed activity.
FINALLY, the legislative branch appears to have some to its sense. In the Senate draft of the FAA Reauthorization Act, S.2658, draft §§2251-2254, which reverse the prior ostrich-like position; the language includes—
‘‘(d) PROMOTION OF UNITED STATES AEROSPACE STANDARDS, PRODUCTS, AND SERVICES ABROAD—The Secretary shall take appropriate actions—
(1) to promote United States aerospace-related safety standards abroad;
(2) to facilitate and vigorously defend approvals of United States aerospace products and services abroad;
(3) with respect to bilateral partners, to use bilateral safety agreements and other mechanisms to improve validation of United States type certificated aeronautical products and services and enhance mutual acceptance in order to eliminate redundancies and unnecessary costs; and
(4) with respect to the aeronautical safety authorities of a foreign country, to streamline that country’s validation of United States aerospace standards, products, and services.’’
SEC. 2253. FAA LEADERSHIP ABROAD
(a) IN GENERAL—To promote United States aerospace safety standards, reduce redundant regulatory activity, and facilitate acceptance of FAA design and production approvals abroad, the Administrator shall—
(1) attain greater expertise in issues related to dispute resolution, intellectual property, and export control laws to better support FAA certification and other aerospace regulatory activities abroad;
(2) work with United States companies to more accurately track the amount of time it takes foreign authorities, including bilateral partners, to validate United States type certificated aeronautical products;
(3) provide assistance to United States companies who have experienced significantly long foreign validation wait times;
(4) work with foreign authorities, including bilateral partners, to collect and analyze data to determine the timeliness of the acceptance and validation of FAA design and production approvals by foreign authorities and the acceptance and validation of foreign-certified products by the FAA;
(5) establish appropriate benchmarks and metrics to measure the success of bilateral aviation safety agreements and to reduce the validation time for United States type certificated aeronautical products abroad; and
(6) work with foreign authorities, including bilateral partners, to improve the timeliness of the acceptance and validation of FAA design and production approvals by foreign authorities and the acceptance and validation of foreign-certified products by the FAA.
(b) REPORT—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that—
(1) describes the Administrator’s strategic plan for international engagement;
That’s a 3600 change of direction; hopefully the language will be enacted quickly. With that newly restored authority, the FAA may take an active role around the world. PLUS the Senate and the House do more than add rhetoric; the appropriators MUST fund these critical initiatives! Hopefully this reauthorization of the power to promote will be in time to meet the challenges around the globe.