The FAA’s inconsistent enforcement of maintenance manual threatens competition in the aviation aftermarket, ARSA told the Federal Trade Commission in a letter submitted April 29.
ARSA’s submission was made in conjunction with the FTC’s Nixing the Fix initiative, the centerpiece of which is a July 16 meeting to examine ways in which manufacturers in various industries limit third-party repairs. Among other topics, the workshop will address issues that arise when a manufacturer restricts the ability of consumers or an independent repair shops to make product repairs.
ARSA told the FTC that the repair-restriction challenges faced by aviation repair stations are related to rules that require manufacturers to develop maintenance information and make it available. Specifically, the FAA fails to enforce the regulation requiring Design Approval Holders (DAHs) to develop basic maintenance information and thereafter make it available to maintenance providers (14 CFR § 21.50(b)), while aggressively enforcing the rule requiring repair stations to possess that same maintenance data (14 CFR § 145.109(d)).
ARSA’s comments were submitted in response to a call for empirical research and data about repair restrictions in advance of the July 16 meeting. ARSA’s letter provides an overview the maintenance manual regulatory framework, describes the challenges repair stations encounter when seeking maintenance data and cites various examples provided by ARSA members (redacted to remove any identifying information) in response to association surveys and to the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Ombudsman.
Although the deadline to submit pre-meeting data to the FTC has passed, the deadline for submitting comments on manufacturer aftermarket restrictions isn’t until Sept. 16. ARSA members concerned about the availability of maintenance data are encouraged to both submit comments and participate in the July 16 meeting to help shed light on DAH practices and encourage the FTC to address the issue. If you intend to do both or either, please let ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein know so the association can keep you informed of relevant developments.
In addition to supporting the FTC’s Nixing the Fix initiative, association and industry members should take action on other fronts:
(1) Follow ARSA’s lead and file a comment with the SBA Ombudsman. For information on the effort and access to an association-produced industry toolkit, visit: arsa.org/sbaicacomment.
(2) Utilize ARSA’s toolkit for requesting exemption from the “current” maintenance data requirement of § 145.109(d). For more information, visit: arsa.org/145-109.
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