April 2, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must promptly complete its rules covering aircraft repair station security—freeing aircraft manufacturers to compete and releasing the FAA from a ban on certifying foreign repair facilities, said members of the Senate Commerce Committee.
The DHS’s failure to complete the rulemaking as directed by Congress in 2003 and 2007 affects the competitiveness of manufacturers, and weakens the FAA’s “global safety leadership,” said Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the aviation subcommittee.
The legislation cited by the senators contained a provision preventing the FAA from issuing operating certificates to new foreign repair station applicants if the DHS failed to complete the rule within 240 days.
The senators requested the expedited action—along with regular progress briefings of the Commerce Committee— in a March 29 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that cited comments by Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole about the timetable for completing the rule.
“Based on a recent letter from Administrator Pistole to the industry, we understand that the rule will not be finalized until December 2012. We respectfully request that you expedite this rulemaking before that date,” they wrote.
The senators conceded that a “myriad of issues” faced both the DHS and TSA. But they still urged completion of the rulemaking “to enhance security and address the economic consequences of government inaction to industry.”
“We applaud this effort by the Senate Commerce Committee leaders and share their desire that a rulemaking on foreign repair stations is forthcoming,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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