Don't treat foreign-manufactured general aviation aircraft differently, AOPA is telling the FAA. When it comes to airworthiness concerns, unequal treatment could mean more costs for owners of aircraft built by Diamond and Socata, for example.
"AOPA is concerned that many airworthiness directives by foreign aviation authorities are 'overkill' and may be issued without using good risk management practices," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "In many instances, ADs on foreign-designed aircraft appear to be product improvements and not a solution to a clearly defined safety concern."
That's an important issue for aircraft owners, because the FAA has drafted a new order in which it would accept an airworthiness action issued by a foreign authority without going through the standard airworthiness concern process used for FAA-certificated aircraft. The order would also limit the public comment period on a foreign-issued AD to just 15 days. The FAA generally allows 60 days for comments on proposed ADs for U.S.-manufactured aircraft.
In a letter objecting to the FAA's draft Order 8040.2, the association said, "For nearly six years, AOPA, the aviation industry, and the FAA have relied on and successfully used the airworthiness concern process to address and resolve safety concerns before an AD is issued.... The draft order assumes that because an AD has been issued by a competent foreign authority it is unnecessary to get industry input prior to issuance of the AD in the United States. This assumption, however, is flawed because it does not allow for the availability of data and suggestions on products operated in the United States."
AOPA also objected to the short, 15-day comment period, saying that effectively denied U.S. owners and operators of foreign aircraft "the opportunity to provide substantive comments to ADs that directly impact them."
The association asked the FAA to apply the same standards and procedures to foreign-manufactured aircraft as it does with U.S. aircraft when considering airworthiness concerns.
June 15, 2006