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TSA Repair Station Security Rules Get Mixed Reviews

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More than 10 years after Congress mandated that the Transportation Security Administration establish security regulations for repair stations certified under FAR Part 145 and four years after the TSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the matter, the TSA is about to formally publish the final rules (PDF). In a January 10 conference call with interested aviation organizations, TSA officials outlined the scope of the final rules, which will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, January 13 and take effect 45 days later. The final rules will be narrower in scope than the NPRM and will establish an outcome-based security system that focuses on the risk of stealing an unattended, large (over 12,500 pounds) aircraft capable of flight. The rules will only apply to repair stations on or adjacent (connecting) to airports and will end the decade-long moratorium on certificating new repair stations in countries other than the U.S.

Response to the new rules spanned the spectrum. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) commended the TSA for “heeding industry input and narrowing the scope of the regulation.” It went on to express disappointment that what should have been a straightforward process took so long. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) expressed its appreciation for the work of the TSA in preparing the rules and the establishment of risk-based security requirements that will make it easier for U.S. businesses to access and support markets throughout the world. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) said the issuance of the new rules is “a great boost to our aviation repair businesses, jobs and our nation’s economy.” The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) blasted the new rules as inadequate in failing to address security loopholes and running counter to the congressional requirement that the TSA ensure the security of maintenance work performed at contract repair stations whether on or off of airports. It went on to criticize the rules as failing to provide for adequate background checks of repair station employees and not allowing for unannounced inspections by the TSA of foreign repair stations although it does so at domestic stations. The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) referenced the long delay but said that in its preliminary review, “the TSA has done an exceptional job of addressing public comment during the NPRM process.” 

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