September 7, 2012

NBAA and other aviation trade organizations are seeking input from their members as part of a broad effort to get Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors and field offices to interpret Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) consistently throughout the agency.

Aviation stakeholders have long complained that FAA personnel in various local and regional offices often provide significantly different interpretations of the same regulation – leading to frustration, delays and possible certificate actions or fines for operators. Widespread concern about this issue led Congress to include a provision in the latest FAA reauthorization legislation requiring the agency to address the matter and take steps to improve its oversight process.

As a result, FAA established a Regulatory Interpretation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC 313) earlier this year, which is tasked with “providing a forum for the aviation community to discuss and provide recommendations to the FAA” and making written recommendations to the agency’s associate administrator for aviation safety.

Operators and certificate holders who want to participate in the ARC 313 survey can do so by accessing the survey link before Sept. 25.

Take the ARC 313 survey now.

Survey respondents will not be identified, but ARC leaders want to know what type of aviation enterprise participants represent:

  • design/production approval holders under Part 21 of the FARs
  • certificated air carrier or air operators governed by Parts 91K, 121, 125 or 135
  • general aviation or flight departments operating under Part 91
  • engineering firms with Delegation Option Authorization
  • maintenance certificate holders operating under FAR 65 or 145

The survey also asks participants to list the FAA jurisdictional region in which they are located for both flight standards and aircraft certification matters.

Eric Byer, vice president government and industry affairs for the National Air Transportation Association and industry chair of ARC 313, said more than 250 organizations and individuals completed the survey the first week it was available, including both large and small companies in the U.S. and Europe.

Byer said the committee would like to see widespread participation by all segments of the industry in order to provide “a good, broad perspective on the lack of standardization.” By having participants identify the local and regional FAA offices they interact with, the ARC hopes to develop a mosaic of those locations where problems are most prevalent, and also where the system is working well.

One of the biggest problems identified to date, said Byer, is the voluminous amount of guidance documents that have been attached to the FARs over the years. There is “way too much guidance [material] and way too many databases,” Byer said, adding that much of it is outdated or conflicting, which can lead to confusion for both industry and FAA field personnel. ARC members are examining how all this material can be distilled and consolidated into an on-line, user-friendly database that everyone will be able to access. The objective is “to give FAA a pretty clear example of what needs to be done,” Byer said.

ARC 313 is scheduled to submit its final recommendations to FAA by the end of the year. The reauthorization bill requires the FAA administrator to submit the agency’s report to Congress by Feb. 15, 2013.