AEA Shares Concerns, Issues with FAA Administrator

During a private meeting at the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Paula Derks, president of the Aircraft Electronics Association, met with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt to discuss various issues affecting the members of the AEA. Joining Derks and Babbitt for the meeting were Greg Vail, AEA’s vice chairman of the board of directors; and Ric Peri, AEA’s vice president of government and industry affairs.

Also in attendance was John Hickey, FAA’s deputy administrator for aviation safety for the agency; and Vicki Cox, senior vice president of FAA’s Air Traffic Organization.

Topics discussed by the group included FAA’s proposed Safety Management Systems. AEA submitted comments last fall in opposition to the implementation of an SMS program for the general aviation repair station community. Derks expressed to Babbitt that while AEA is a strong proponent of safety, the AEA suggests the SMS implementation for the repair station community would be an administrative burden and no specific hazards have been defined in order to justify an SMS program for the small businesses AEA represents. The AEA recommended adding parts of the SMS concept to the already-existing Part 145 regulations governing repair stations.

Field approval issues also were discussed, including the continuing problems of various misinterpretations of the regulations from region to region. Vail shared examples of challenges faced by a small repair station. Vail is the general manager of Bloomington Avionics of Bloomington, Ill., a Part 145 repair station.

Finally, NextGen and the role AEA members will play in equipping for ADS-B was covered. Cox, who is overseeing NextGen and operations planning for the agency, welcomed AEA’s input and tentatively agreed to speak at the upcoming ADS-B Regulatory Panel being presented at the AEA Convention in April in Orlando.

Picture above from left: Ric Peri, AEA’s vice president of government and industry affairs; John Hickey, FAA’s deputy administrator for aviation safety; Randall Babbitt, administrator of the FAA; Paula Derks, AEA’s president; and Greg Vail, vice chairman of the AEA board, and general manager, Bloomington Avionics.