US Department of Transportation NPRM - FAA Docket No. FAA-2006-26408
AIA and AEA Issue Responses to NPRM Docket No. FAA-2006-26408
AIA - Organization Does Not Support Proposed FAR Part 145 Changes
SUBMITTED TO:http://dms.dot.gov U.S. Department of Transportation 400 Seventh Street, SW Nassif Building, Room PL-401 Washington, DC 20590 April 16, 2007 Ref: Docket No. FAA-2006-26408 NPRM Comment Retain Instrument Class Ratings add new Software Class Dear Sir: The Aviation Instrument Association represents primarily United States of America 14 CFR part 145 Instrument rated Repair Stations.Most of our memberships have two or more Instrument Class ratings earned after decades of performing competent air worthy maintenance with full class ratings on instruments.Obviously we will be significantly impacted by the changes contemplated in this rule making. The comments from our membership have been unanimous and confirm that the requirement to qualify each part to be maintained on a Capability List is an onerous-burdensome requirement that would substantially impact their resources.Most of the membership is truly Small Business earning far less than one million dollars per year, and consist of less than ten people.Yet, they have shared in an outstanding service to make American Aviation safer year after year.So we argue that the proposal to eliminate Instrument Ratings, and those of Radio or Accessory and replace them with an Avionics Capability list is improper, prohibitively expensive and will not enhance safety. We do recognize the need for an additional rating for the Glass Cockpit aircraft.First consider the genesis of the Instrument ratings.For one hundred years the pilots relied on gauges, their principles of operation called for the use of physical properties, that could be linked to the moving of a mechanical pointer, which indicated on a dial face the aircraft’s performances; Air Speed, Altitude, Direction, Attitude, Engine Temperature, RPM, Pressures, etc.These performance references enabled a pilot to fly safely.Most systems functioned discreetly such as the tachometer which had a tach sender, the oil temperature gauge had a temperature probe, etc or they worked together on a hard wired syncro system with a master-slave closed loop analog system.All this did change with the digital computer Glass Cockpit which is software driven. So we accept the need for an additional new rating but it should not be called “Avionics”.This term predates the Glass Cockpit, it was coined to mean “Aviation-Electronics”, which is recognized with Radio 1-2-3, Accessory 3, Instrument 4 and includes articles in use before World War II. The new rating will separate as described in RTCA/DO178 by “software” - functioning the whole aircraft in a unified system. We urge you to consider an additional new rating titled: Unified Aircraft Software: A certificated repair station with a “Unified Aircraft Software” rating listed on it’s operations specification may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance and alterations on the aircraft’s parts hardware and software driving the Unified Flight Management Systems operating the: computers, data bus, cockpit fly by wire, power plant, propeller, navigation, cabin, airframe, and flight recorder, including interfacing articles of electrical, electronic function, instruments, radio, integrated modular systems, and in-flight entertainment units.As well as other articles that interface with the Unified Aircraft Software that are listed on the Repair Stations capability list required by Sec. 145.215. Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 may remain the same except the rating title “Unified Aircraft Software.” In conclusion our FAA 145 repair stations have stepped up to National and International interests for safety for decades.We already are the most regulated, we meet Airline requirements, we have Anti Drug and Alcohol programs, Quality, and Repair Station Manuals. This proposal to eliminate the Instrument Class Ratings will not enhance maintenance for the customers of the Legacy aircraft, which will number tens of thousands for many years to come.It is uncivilized to dishonor the competent 145 repair stations by un-certificating them with out reason when we are a national resource that should be protected. Sincerely,
AEA - Organization Does Not Support Proposed FAR Part 145 Changes
The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) submitted strongly worded comments on the FAA's proposed changes to Part 145 included in Docket No. FAA-2006-26408 emphasizing it is not in support of the overall FAA proposal. The AEA comments that "the repair station industry has been administratively burdened by regulatory action almost continuously since 2001. The last of the repair station training programs were to be submitted only 16 days ago at the end of March 2007. A moratorium on all but essential changes to Part 145 is long overdue."
The AEA also challeges the FAA to the validity of their proposal stating that "this analysis predates the August 6, 2001 change to 14 CFR Part 145, which did not become effective until August 6, 2003. The FAA cannot make statements of the safety and financial benefit based on data that predates the last regulatory change to Part 145." The AEA also points out that the change "would require significant amendments to the repair station manuals, quality manual, training manual and the establishment and management of a capability list and...will require a minimum of 184 hours of administrative burden for a proposal that the Agency cannot quantify any benefit."
The AEA also does not support Capability Lists. In the August 6, 2001 Federal Register, the FAA estimated that each repairs station would take on average 12 hours just to manage the capability list. The time to develop and manage the capability list far exceeds that suggested by the FAA in this NPRM and the "administrative burden to repair stations to prepare a capability list would require 4 hours of maintenance management time plus 4 hours of administrative support personnel time for small repair stations and corresponding times of 8 hours for large repair stations."
The AEA distinguishes the differences between small and large repair station and stresses that "significantly higher administrative and financial burden on small business" would be burdensome over the same requirements to a large repair station and that "The burden from this proposal to small Part 145 businesses that support general aviation aircraft is excessive and completely unjustified from a safety perspective." The AEA also notes that the FAA fails to recognize the vast majority of repair stations do not work on Part 121 aircraft but rather support Part 91 aircraft.
Another concern that the AEA brings to the table is the case of independent maintenance providers (non-certified maintenance facilities) who operate under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 65. These companies are being granted the same "return-to-service" authority as the "FAA Certified Repair Station" despite the fact that they work outside the FAA's inspection and oversight (clearly a double standard) and "without the mandated training and record keeping requirements of Part 145 and with only a bi-annual records review to validate their qualifications." The AEA is calling this practice "discriminatory" and is demanding that it be stopped.
With "over 500 aircraft types in operation today" the AEA stresses that this FAA-NPRM demands that each repair station submit a request to change their "Operations Specifications" each time they need to support an aircraft that is not on their Ops Specs. AEA calls this "logistically ridiculous" and calls the proposal "unmanageable and extremely costly" and requests a two-tiered approach to regulations. The AEA is basically proposing a Part 145 requirement more in line with the FAA accepted criterion of the independent maintenance providers which would be similar to the pre-2001 regulations.
This year I replaced Steve Johannes as the President of the AIA by my acceptance as President at the October '06 Board and Geeral meeting in Orlando, Florida. I thank Steve Johannes for carrying the AIA's goals throughout his term including the new training program.
As such I need for you to know that your comments to the FAA on the latest rewrite of 145 are due no later than March, 1 2007. This rewrite is very burdensome to the traditional 4-Class of Instruments. They propose to delete these and replace them with an Avionics rating. This new rating will require an approval by the FAA of each part number to be serviced on a "Capability List" on file with the FAA. This onerous requirement will cause economic, adminsitrative, and customer confusion, and the opinion within the AIA is that it provides no safety benefit. The four Instrument Class ratings currently described should remain, as well as the corresponding three Radio Class ratings and the three Accessory Class ratings. Instead, a new category for "Hybrid Avionics" should be added that includes all the "Computer Generated Cockpit Symbology Displays" that function together on data buses with Flight Management, Radios, and "Computer Generated Symbolically Displayed Instruments", and hybrid computer driven accessory components such as sensors, switches, etc. These systems introduced in the mid 1980's are different that traditional moving part instruments. Instead, the hybrid crossover avionics are displayed without moving parts on VRT, LCD, Plasma, etc. flat displays.
I am sure most agree with this position. Our friends at AEA, particularly Ric Peri, have provided a helpful guide to answer this NPRM. Please let me know your company response.
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