In spite of private sector support, Congress, in its infinite wisdom, deleted the word “promote” from the FAA’s statutory mission. With shrinking budget, it has closed many of its international offices. Gratefully, here are provisions (§351-354) in AIRR which would restore international outreach in convincing other civil aviation authorities of the value of the FARs and the associated technologies.
In any event, it is fair to postulate that the FAA needs a strategic plan to keep the US on a par with other CAAs’ (especially EASA’s) efforts to sell their respective regulatory programs. In such a document, the Administrator must prioritize the FAA’s focus and resources on CAAs based on their safety, economic and trade impacts.
In that context, is it a bit curious that the Administrator traveled to a relatively small island off the coast of Malaysia to sign an important agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore? The country occupies 278 sq. mi., has a population of 5,535,000 (113th in the world), but produces a GDP of $308.051M (36th).
Administrator Huerta traveled 9,664 miles to sign a “milestone” Maintenance Implementation Procedures agreement with Director-General of CAAS, Kevin Shum. This document reflects progress in the FAA’s Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement process which began in 2004 with the inking of an Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness (IPA) agreement, and reinforced by a 2007 upgrade.
The most recent iteration will deliver benefits to both countries’ industries. The execution of this agreement “will significantly reduce regulatory burdens and compliance costs for the aviation industry. It also will eliminate duplication of inspections and audits on aircraft maintenance organisations in Singapore and the U.S.” The Administrator commented:
“This landmark agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will strengthen aviation safety while reducing the cost of inspections for aircraft repairwork. The United States looks forward toward continued collaboration with ASEAN Member States.”
The highlighted words of the quote added to the sphere of influence of this event by mentioning that MIPs could be extended to other countries of the region. While in Singapore, Mr. Huerta also attended the Singapore Air Show and met with his counterparts at the meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The aeronautical numbers of Singapore are surprisingly strong. ST Engineering, headquartered there, ranks #51 among the global competitors in this sector. The Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran noted that his country is the top maintenance, repair and overhaul hub in Asia. Based on the observation that its aerospace manufacturing sector holds great potential for economic development, he committed $3.3 billion towards an initiative Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering public R&D capabilities over the next five years under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan.
Other objective data supports the conclusion that Singapore should receive FAA attention:
- Singapore is the leading Asian aerospace hub with the greatest number of aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers present.
- ST Aerospace and SIA Engineering Company Ltd offer comprehensive nose-to-tail airframe MRO services and are among the top 5 Airframe MROs in the world in 2008 based on the total airframe man-hours by the corporate entities.
- Singapore is also host to major engine overhaul centres, with all three engine OEM majors (GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce) represented.
- Employing over 19,000 people and with a compounded annual growth rate of 12% since 1990.
- Singapore’s aerospace industry is an integral economic driver. In 2011, the industry recorded revenues of nearly S$7.9 billion.
Sounds like the Administrator’s travel to Singapore made immense international strategic sense!