Lawmakers Push FAA On Part 147 Update

American Airlines maintenance checking aircraft
Credit: American Airlines

WASHINGTON—U.S. lawmakers eager to see the FAA wrap up a long-awaited rework of aviation technician education standards are pressuring the agency to meet its latest scheduled release date, which is months after the deadline set by law. 

In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, eight U.S. senators, led by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), said the delay combined with a looming shortage of mechanics makes the revamp of Part 147 rules that apply to educational institution even more critical. 

“As original sponsors of the language, we encourage and request swift implementation of the directive in support of aviation maintenance training schools, which have a large part to play in the aviation industry’s recovery from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote in their Sept. 1 letter. “Given the immediate and increased need for expanding aviation workforce programs, it is imperative the part 147 rulemaking remains a top priority for the FAA.” 

The requirement to re-work part 147 is part of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, which Congress wedged into the massive Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law in December 2020. The bill ordered the FAA to issue an interim final rule revamping part 147 by late March 2021. The latest U.S. Transportation Department rulemaking agenda has the new standards set for publication in November. 

Revamped standards for FAA-certified schools that train technicians have been in the works for years. Existing standards have not changed much since 1970, leaving them behind the technological curve in what they require, and forcing companies to train new mechanics on some basics that have emerged in the last few decades. 

As part of the revamped interim rule, the senators urged the FAA to release revised mechanic airman certification standards (ACS). The agency is finalizing plans for new ACS and is expected to incorporate them by reference in the new part 147, opening the door for them to be changed via rulemaking but without the need to alter the broader technical school standards.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.