The FAA has once again introduced its new rating system for repair stations, which was dropped in 2001.
A major part that will affect general aviation is the potential that the rewrite will require certification of the repair station to be model specific. An example would be the Cessna or Piper product line, I.e, 170, 172, 150, 152, 210, PA140, PA46, PA31, and J-3, to name a very small fraction of the specific models. A repair station would need to acquire a rating based on each model. A small repair station, which has been a Piper or Cessna Service Center, would need to acquire more than 300 of these new certifications.
Who is going to handle all of this work at the FAA of researching the capabilities lists submitted by the repair stations for each model? Then approving them? Who is going to pay for this work at the repair station end? That is an easy answer: The owner operator will, in higher labor rates.
Or here is another possibility: A&Ps can still work on your aircraft. To make it easier, repair stations may just dissolve and leave the individual A&Ps to sign off their own work. That’s fine, you say, as that’s what my guy does now. Well many of us like the security of liability insurance when working on aircraft.
So maybe we then leave this career to work on roller coasters, wind turbines, or many of the other industries scooping up A&Ps. Either way the same thing happens: The price to the owner operator goes up and general aviation takes another economic hit.
If the individual has to get their own liability insurance, it will cost more than $75,000 per year at minimum based on how many aircraft they work on. Throw in a shortage of A&Ps coming in 10 to 15 years and salaries can go up as well, which means the shop rate goes up.
As an advocate for the aviation maintenance professional, you may ask why I am against higher wages for the individuals I represent. I am not nor is the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA). We just realize that this rewrite is bad for general aviation and will reduce the number of aircraft owners, which will reduce the number of A&Ps and increase the number of the unemployed.
The relationship A&P’ have with aircraft owners is a trust that is based on your life. We want more of both pilots and maintenance professionals, not unneeded regulations that hurt aviation’s growth potential.
Dale Forton is president of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA).