This has got to stop. We all know that FAA inspectors at the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) level are overworked and that FAA regulations, policies, procedures and programs impose impossible requirements on agency personnel. But when a drop-dead simple piece of paperwork that needs an approval signature hits the desk and gets delayed for some obscure confounded reason, causing the grounding of a multimillion-dollar jet, well, this simply has got to stop.
Federal Aviation Administration
The FAA last month released Safety Info for Operators document 14009 to explain a new data-gathering system on implementation of safety enhancements to Part 121 air carriers. The informational notice says all data gathered is only for the evaluation of industry-wide safety-related issues and is not intended to reflect regulatory compliance.
The FAA published the document as part of its support for the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (Cast), of which the agency is a participant along with air carriers, manufacturers and aviation labor organizations.
The FAA used International Civil Aviation Organization standards during a recent inspection to determine that Serbia’s aviation safety rating should be upgraded to Category 1 from Category 2. Serbia’s safety rating had been at Category 2 since 2006, indicating the country either lacked laws or regulations to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority was deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.
The FAA’s Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) have a backlog of applications for certificates that concerns the Department of Transportation Inspector General’s Office. As of last October, 1,029 new air operator, flight school and repair station applicants awaited certificates from FSDOs across all eight FAA regions, with 138 applications delayed longer than three years, the IG reported to Congress on June 12.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has released a draft of a new Pilot’s Bill of Rights. “The goal of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 is to continue addressing unfair practices and regulations toward the aviation industry,” Inhofe said.
A June 11 Congressional House hearing on the FAA’s “2020 NextGen Mandate: Benefits and Challenges for General Aviation” reviewed the agency’s requirement that all U.S. civil aircraft carry ADS-B out units by Jan. 1, 2020, along with the vexing–to the FAA, at least–issue that aircraft owners are not rushing out to install them.
I’ve written periodically about FAA enforcement and what I consider to be abuses of the process, along with sanctions that are significantly disproportionate to the safety impact of the offenses charged.
In a bid to dispel apparent confusion over the limits of its regulatory authority over unmanned aerial systems, the FAA on June 23 reminded users that it does possess the authority to regulate radio-controlled model airplanes. Publishing its interpretation of the statutory special rules for model aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the agency said, “The guidance comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.
As the aviation sector awaits the FAA’s final rule on the safety management systems (SMS) process, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has looked more closely at the status of SMS implementation, as well as at some of the key challenges the FAA and industry face in completing that implementation. The agency’s air traffic organization is currently the only FAA group that has completed the SMS implementation process, although five other agency organizations are finalizing their efforts.
Testifying yesterday before the Senate subcommittee on aviation on the status of NextGen ATC implementation, FAA deputy administrator Michael Whitaker told lawmakers that “both the FAA and industry must be held accountable if NextGen is to succeed.”
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