Last month, a delegation of aviation maintenance technician educators, employers, vendors, regulators and trade group representatives met in Washington for the council’s annual Fly-in.
The event—which provides an opportunity for industry to collaborate on common interests and educate congressional leaders and policymakers on important issues—proved eventful in many respects.
The first of two days brought in leaders from FAA’s Flight Standards, highlighting recent organizational changes. “The Future of Flight Standards” is aimed at creating a more responsive and agile overseer of aviation safety. Regional flight standards offices have been replaced with “functional organizations” that address issues by topic, rather than geographic location.
According to Flight Standards Service Executive Director John Duncan, the reorganization brings with it new opportunities for “horizontal communication,” that can and should be utilized to further consistent and standard regulatory interpretation across the country.
The agency also highlighted new tools supporting consistency and standardization initiatives. The Regulatory Consistency Communication Board (RCCB)—made up of flight standards service and aircraft certification service leaders, policy office personnel, and chief counsel representatives—facilitates an established methodology to document, track and respond to inquiries regarding regulatory intent and application.
The primary driver for the RCCB is the need for timely resolutions. Under the new framework—provided for in FAA
—named stakeholders receive acknowledgment of their submission within five days, a plan for disposition within fifteen days, and a resolution timeline within 45 days.
Another hot topic of conversation was the newly anticipated part 147 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM). As ATEC
reported last month
, the agency will issue a revised proposal for public comment this month. According to Duncan, officials decided to reconsider the rulemaking in response to
at last year’s Fly-in; specifically, the allowance for competency-based education in lieu of seat time requirements.
While ATEC is hopeful that the SNPRM will make much-needed improvements to the original proposal, and welcomes further opportunity to comment, the additional step means further delay for a sorely needed rulemaking.
With this new intelligence, attendees took full advantage of day two’s hill meetings, educating congressional leaders on
and garnering support for an expedited rulemaking. Through their good work, ATEC received strong support for “quick” promulgation of a rule that will modernize aviation maintenance technician training.
Indeed, since the Fly-in,
another congressional inquiry
was sent by Utah’s Senator Hatch, asking for an update on the second NPRM, and whether it will “sufficiently modernize rule 147 so it does not overburden our nation’s aviation maintenance technician schools.”
The event wrapped up with presentation of the ATEC Legislative Leadership Award to Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21). The award recognized Rep. Smith’s advocacy on behalf of aviation maintenance education, and his pledge to support ATEC’s continued efforts to ensure an effective and timely rulemaking.
Before departing Washington, the ATEC Board met to discuss association business and operations. It also elected and welcomes three new directors:
Constant Aviation Vice President Safety, Quality, Training, Tech Programs Kent Stauffer, Wichita Area Technical College Aviation Technology Dean Jim Hall, and Lockheed Martin Senior Manager Scott Rose.