Foreign Repair Stations have drawn the ire of Democrats for 35 years
Chairman DeFazio introduces HR 7321 to add to their administrative burden
If passed, the rules will infuriate US allies, hurt FAA’s effort to improve its relations with CAAs and lose overseas unionized jobs
Yogi Berra was known for his malaprops which somehow made sense at a level above literal. The famous quote “Déjà vu all over again” is so apt here. Chairman DeFazio, in his last year of serving the people of Oregon by his work in Congress, has once again introduced legislation which would impose stricter standards on Foreign Repair Stations (FRS).
A search of the Library of Congress’ list of bills found seven proposals seeking the same end. The illustration shows essentially the same legislation between 1987 and the Chairman’s bill HR 7321.
If memory serves right the aegis of this FRS actually dates earlier than 1987.
Give Chairman DeFazio credit for adding to airlines’ paperwork by requiring that they report their MRO use.
Why does Congress repeat unsuccessfully the introduction and reintroduction of FRS restrictions? An honest comparative audit of the global MRO industries would find little or no differences in the safety of their repairs. Yes, there may be a few FRSs that have deficiencies, but a similar sample size would be identified among the domestic repair stations. Plus, there may be a few hiccups among the Part 121 MX facilities. What is found in all of these audits is SAFETY; as much as can be reasonably expected, the plane, powerplant or avionics are extremely likely to leave in an airworthy state.
The ”unintended consequences” of passage of HR 7321 include:
- An increase in the number of MRO inspectors and travel budget to meet the statutory visits;
- Unannounced inspections will disrupt the US relationships with foreign sovereigns
- Not a great idea when the US needs allies for reasons other than civil issues, and
- The FAA must rebuild its relationship with its peer CAAs and forcing entrance into FRSs on foreign soil will reinforce these aviation authorities perception that the US has a superiority complex
- ٭If the true goal of HR 7321 is to bring jobs back to the US, then result will be that heavily unionized MX technicians overseas will lose their jobs. What’s the first initial in IAM stand for?
If Chairman DeFazio is convinced that these FRSs are unsafe, HR 7321 should eliminate 14 CFR §145.51(b),(c) and these facilities will go away!!!
By Jon Hemmerdinger31 March 2022
A top US lawmaker is again seeking to increase government oversight of commercial aircraft maintenance and of non-US aircraft repair stations.
Democrat Peter DeFazio on 31 March introduced a bill that sets new maintenance oversight requirements. He introduced a similar bill in 2019, but that measure never became law.
The provisions have received push back from the aircraft maintenance industry.
“The FAA has been too slow to act on recommendations from its own inspector general to do more to close the gap between our safety standards and those of foreign repair stations,” says DeFazio. “The bill I’m introducing today establishes one standard of safety regardless of where the aircraft is maintained.”
US law already requires the FAA to complete annual inspections of so-called Part 145 repair stations that are located outside the USA. DeFazio’s bill, however, would require that those inspections be unannounced.
Additionally, it would subject airlines to new reporting requirements.
Specifically, airlines would need to submit annual maintenance reports to the FAA. The reports would include “heavy maintenance work history for each aircraft”, the location of work and details about staff performing the work.
The bill would also require airlines to submit monthly reports detailing work performed outside the USA.
The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) has railed against the proposed measures.
“Foreign repair stations would be subject to new and unnecessary requirements that do nothing to further safety,” the trade group said of DeFazio’s previous bill. “US air carriers and their maintenance vendors would be subject to burdensome new recordkeeping requirements.”
Additionally, ARSA warns that DeFazio’s proposal could prompt other governments to “retaliate” by imposing similar restrictions on US repair stations.
 TRANSPARENCY STATEMENT: the author represented FRSs between 1985 and 2006. The Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee asked to visit one of my clients while he led a delegation to meet with the UK. The seven Representatives inspected my clients’ facility and afterwards none of them supported an FRS restriction. On another occasion, the FAA inspected another clients Part 145 facility in Mexico arriving with the expectation that they would be revoking the certificate upon exiting. As the group walked up the stairs to the front door, the lead FAA expert said to no one in particular, “if we revoke these guys on quality grounds, my travel budget for the next FY will have to increase. There are many, many US MROs that have lesser QA/QC standards.” An ARSA award bears that expert’s name.
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