FAA manages many,many NPRMs
The Significant Rulemaking Report tracks the IMPORTANT ones
January Report= SMS for airports, drug&alcohol for FRSs, UAS, Flight& Duty, Secondary Barriers,SST noise st
The Significant Rulemakings Report (SRR) provides a summary and the status for all significant rulemakings that DOT currently has pending or has issued recently. The Report is updated at the beginning of each month Goal not always attained; see this chart:
The DOT provides these reports to inform the public regarding its regulatory activities. The Report is a resource to, for example, locate the public docket number or the Federal Register citation for a particular rulemaking. What is most useful is its role as a source of “prioritization” designation or of expected procedural dates for pending FARs. Some of regulatory projects may have been initiated years ago and are still languishing in the process—no matter that Congress, NGOs, the Secretary or even the Administrator may have deemed the NPRM as important.
Another historical oddity is the variance in the format and the level of detail provided witness these recent reports:
NOTE: extensive ABSTRACT explaining the purpose of the proposal and a cost/benefit precis.
Note—the DOT in 2019 added a color code to denote priority. More process information, but no cost/benefit. The prompting action line included statutory deadlines if applicable.
Biden Administration appears to have reduced the level of detail.
The first report of 2022 has scheduled (predicted?) individual actions in nine separate months of this year (none listed for February, June and November) and defers to an indefinite date (00/00/00) for six proposed rule projects. Politically sensitive projects are among the 27 on this year’s SRR.
To highlight a few (in order listed by DOT):
75 FR 62008 – Safety Management System for Certificated Airports was first proposed in 2011. Many requests for extension (four granted) plus a listed of questions submitted by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) caused the FAA to file FAA Responses to Clarifying Questions (39 pages) on May 24, 2011. That effort stimulated 225 comments. Digging further into the Administrative Procedure Act, a Supplemental NPRM was issued on July 14,2016 and the comments were closed 60 days later. The docket notes that the FAA has been reviewing the comments since then to 12/00/2022..
In extraordinary advocacy, the following were included in the docket:
- Part 139 Safety Management System (SMS) Implementation Study: November 2011 Roundtable Meeting Summary(PDF, 5.7 MB)
- November 2011 SMSImplementation Study Roundtable Meeting Presentations
- Report on Airport Safety Management Systems (SMS) Pilot Studies, May 2011(PDF)
Over 30 SMS plans were submitted by airports!!! Every SRR since 2011 has included this proposal as significant and still pending.
With this substantial opposition (over 200 negatives comments and then a number of airports placed their SMS drafts in the docket, the APRIL 12 release of the final rule should draw a lot of responses.
- On April 28, 2022, a Safety Management Systems revision (original issued in 2017) is scheduled to be published. The amendment would standardize regulations and guidance for conducting airplane-level safety assessments of various critical systems installed on transport category airplanes.
- SMS for Parts 21, 91, 135 and 145 is due to be published September 23, 2022.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing of Certain Maintenance Provider Employees Located Outside of the United States a 2017 proposal which would require controlled substance testing of some employees working in repair stations located outside the United States. This rulemaking is a statutory mandate under section 308(d) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95) This is due to be published on July 22, 2022, and should be a catalyst for an international firestorm.
- Three docket matters to hit the Federal Register in 2022 should be of interest to labor unions:
- Two of the SRR hit list should interest commercial and GA pilots. A 2012 Act mandated that pilots be identified by biometric markers; the due date (00/00/00) suggests that this should not be a present danger. Pilots, who place a high value on privacy, should work the Hill to seek reversal of this requirement. A real agenda item for 2022 is an NPRM which will impose fees on aircraft registration and pilot license issuance. Congress gave the FAA great guidance in instructing that the charges “recover the estimated costs of the various services and activities” associated with these ministerial actions. Good debate on that will be coming!!!
- UASs will get attention in 2022– a final rule on registration in March; gestation of comments on safe and secure operations of sUASs; and then an open project (00/00/00) on expanding operations should occupy this nascent industry; external marking, not popular among the community, will be in the March 22 Federal Register.
- The aircraft certification segment will be the subject of 2 items on the SRR. One NPRM, to be issued in May, will update the FARs to conform to the new ICAO CO2 In October another NPRM, harmonizing the FAA Part 25 with the EASA certification special conditions and exemptions.
10 The ultimate Hobson Choice is contained in the next SRM – Domestic Noise Certification of Supersonic Aircraft. Every aviation aficionado wants to see the speed of aircraft realistically increase. Real flight time between point A and point B has not substantially improved in decades; so, the attraction of the proposed SST aircraft is substantial. However, the delicate balance between aviation and the Quiet Skies/Green coalitions could be harmed when the prospects of sonic booms are surfaced. Yes, all of the applicants for these TCs assert that they can control the noise, but they cannot manage the public reaction to the memories of the Concorde.
There’s more to examine in the January 2022 SRR.
The DOT Significant Rulemaking Report takes some of the mystery out of how proposals go from initial conception to final promulgation. The only reliable way to track the progress of NPRMs is the old fashioned method of reading the Federal Register on a daily basis (history: 1972-1974 first task was to read this turgid publication.)
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