Aging Aircraft NPRM Opposed

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Meanwhile, the FAA's efforts to mandate safety-related changes for the maintenance of aging transport aircraft are meeting with stiff resistance from the airlines. The Air Transport Association filed its comments Tuesday on the proposed rule, which was posted in April, calling it premature, incomplete, unjustified and too expensive. The FAA estimated costs at $360 million over 20 years, but the ATA says it projects costs of over $3 billion. "The NPRM, unfortunately, does not propose reasonable, presently determinable regulatory requirements ... [it] should be withdrawn," the ATA said. The rule is intended to set strict criteria for determining life limits for commercial aircraft. Many other airlines and trade groups have filed comments. FedEx Corp. said the proposal was overly complex. (To access the complete text of all comments, go to the DMS Web and type in docket number 24281.) Since 1990, more than 540 airworthiness directives have been issued for structural aircraft issues, the FAA says. Those rules were prompted by three major factors: Airplanes are being operated beyond original design service goals, original maintenance plans were not required to address potential age-related issues, and the 1988 Aloha Airlines accident in which part of the fuselage tore away in flight.