Repair Station Snag May Delay FAA Reauthorization

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It's been a couple of years since the FAA had an actual financial mandate, and reauthorization of the agency may be delayed again over an international spat about repair station inspections. The House has passed its version of FAA reauthorization but it contains a prickly clause that would require FAA inspections of foreign repair stations. The European Union says a bilateral agreement on repair station inspections should cover both sides of the pond and if that version of the bill prevails, it will respond in kind, meaning a lot of trans-Atlantic flights by inspectors when the two have already agreed that their standards are consistent. "We negotiated for several years in good faith with FAA," Luisa Ragher, head of transport-energy and environment for the European Commission's Washington delegation, told ATW Online. "We trust the FAA. FAA trusts us."

Trading inspectors would cost money and pull resources from their basic functions of ensuring compliance within their own jurisdictions, Ragher said. She said that if the bill passes as written, the deal between the FAA and European Aviation Safety Administration would be void and EASA would be bound to inspect all 1,200 U.S. repair stations that work on European-registered aircraft. "We have a limited pool of resources and FAA has a limited pool of resources," she said. "I do not think if [EASA] investigates a station in Europe and then FAA comes in the next week and investigates the same station that this brings a greater level of safety."