Comments are due by April 11 on the Federal Aviation Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking to expand the applicability of safety management systems. Technically, the NPRM is proposing the expansion of 14 CFR Part 5.
On Jan. 11, 2023, the FAA proposed to update and expand the requirements for safety management systems and require certain certificate holders and commercial air tour operators to develop and implement an SMS program. Noticeably absent from the NPRM was the inclusion of certified repair stations.
While absent from the direct effects of the NPRM, the FAA did request comments and information regarding a future rulemaking project to expand the applicability of Part 5 to include repair stations certificated under Part 145.
The FAA specifically seeks comments on the following questions:
- Should the FAA consider a future rulemaking project to expand the applicability of Part 5 to include repair stations certificated under Part 145?
- Should the FAA consider applying Part 5 to all certificated Part 145 repair stations?
- Should applicability be limited to a subset of Part 145 repair stations?
These comments can simply be submitted by any repair station at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FAA-2021-0419/document.
- Select the “Comment” button under the Proposed – Management Systems).
- Select “Public Comment” on the Comment Category dropdown.
- Enter your comments in the text box or upload an attachment based on the suggestions below.
The Aircraft Electronics Association suggests that you answer the FAA’s questions based on your repair station’s size, complexity, risk, and especially your experience in working with your local FAA office on the certification and surveillance of your repair station.
IMPORTANT: Each answer should include an answer to the basic question (Yes or No) plus an explanation to support your answer in your own words (do not cut and paste the AEA’s comments).
Should the FAA consider a future rulemaking project to expand the applicability of Part 5 to include repair stations certificated under Part 145?
While subtly different, the FAA is proposing the expansion of Part 5 rather than simply the implementation of the safety principles of SMS. Part 5 places the burden of developing, evaluating, and defending a management system, which in many cases is redundant with the management system already imbedded by regulation in Part 145.
The FAA’s SMS management office argues that Part 5 is inherently scalable to small businesses. The AEA concurs that Part 5 is a performance-based rule that should be inherently scalable; however, it places the burden on the certificate holder to defend their scalable approach, and the FAA’s prescriptive Data Collect Tools used to approve and oversee SMS programs are not scalable. Therefore, the implementation of Part 5 is not scalable. The AEA suggests the membership include examples on how their current experiences are working with the local FAA office regarding the scalability of the performance-based regulations of Part 145.
Should the FAA consider applying Part 5 to all certificated Part 145 repair stations?
As the FAA states in its NPRM, repair stations perform a wide range of repair and maintenance work on an equally wide range of aircraft and components. In addition, the vast majority of repair stations are small businesses with single-shift work and few technicians. The overall management system as defined in Part 5 fundamentally would require a single-person repair station, such as a single-person repair station performing transponder and altimeter system checks (91.411 and 413), to hold and document “safety committee meetings” as well as be measured for effectiveness by documenting hazard reporting.
The FAA suggests that “Some repair stations do not perform work on aircraft used for passenger-carrying operations.” The FAA’s data shows that less than half of all repair stations have some airframe capabilities. Less than 2% of repair stations are class-rated to work on large transport category aircraft carrying passengers. There are nearly three times as many airframe repair stations working on Part 23 aircraft versus transport category aircraft. More than half of all repair stations do not perform maintenance on aircraft.
Should applicability be limited to a subset of Part 145 repair stations?
Rather than applying a redundant management system, the FAA should identify which elements of the required Part 145 quality control system support an operator’s safety management system.
Comments are due by April 11.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-589-1144.