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Last Chance to Book a Hotel Room at the MARPA Discounted Rate

The MARPA 2012 Conference will be held in a month, on October 3-5, 2012 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel.  But the deadline for making hotel reservations at the discounted rate is Monday, September 3!

We have negotiated a room rate of $129.00 per night (not including taxes) for single/double occupancy. This rate applies on a limited basis for rooms up to three days before and after the event, for those who wish to extend their stay. This is the lowest rate available to any group at the Conference Hotel during this time period!  In order to qualify for this special rate, you must book your room by Monday, September 3, 2012. Click here for a link to the hotel for the MARPA room block. Clicking this link should automatically reference the 2012 MARPA discount code (which is mrpmrpa).

You can also call the hotel directly at (800) 750-0980. Make sure to ask for the “MARPA” rate in order to get our discounted rate!

MARPA Annual Conference Hotel Information – Reserve Your Room Before They Sell Out

The MARPA 2012 Conference will be held October 3-5, 2012 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel.  Please make your reservations early for the Conference: the hotel has sold out early for the past several years and we expect the hotel to sell out again this year.

We have negotiated a room rate of $129.00 per night (not including taxes) for single/double occupancy. This rate applies on a limited basis for rooms up to three days before and after the event, for those who wish to extend their stay.  This is the lowest rate available to any group at the Conference Hotel during this time period!

In order to qualify for this special rate, you must book your room by Monday, September 3, 2012. Click here for a link to the hotel for the MARPA room block. Clicking this link should automatically reference the 2012 MARPA discount code (which is mrpmrpa).

You can also call the hotel directly at (800) 750-0980. Make sure to ask for the “MARPA” rate in order to get our discounted rate!

MARPA Conference Agenda for October 14, 2011

Welcome to the Closing Day of the 2011 MARPA Conference.  We’ve put together this Agenda in order to make sure that attendees can find what they’re looking for!  If you have any questions, please ask anyone wearing a Staff ribbon or a Board ribbon.

Please remember to submit your Conference Survey and your Association Survey before you leave. We use this feedback to help improve MARPA programs for the members. Also, each timely-submitted survey enters the completing-party in the Conference-end drawing for a MARPA-radio-controlled helicopter (you must be present to win!).

7:30 am – noon Registration Desk Hotel Lobby
7:30 am – 8:30 am Breakfast Renaissance I
7:30 am – noon Exhibits Open Renaissance I
8:30 am – 10:00 am Opening Session Renaissance II-III
>→Day Two Keynote: How will the FAA Support the Industry’s Increasing Certification / Approval Needs?, David Hempe, Manager, Engineering Division, Federal Aviation Administration
→European Plans for Parts, Frederic Copigneaux, Deputy Certification Director, European Aviation Safety Agency
→ New Developments in PMA Regulation and Policy, John Milewski, PMA Program Manager
10:00 am – 10:30am Break Renaissance II-III
10:30 am – 12:00 noon Renaissance I
PMAs and the Government Market Panel
Moderated by Stu Nibley, Dickstein Shapiro LLP and joined by Ryan Perry, US Air Force
→Air Carrier Panel: Ask Questions and Get Answers!, Moderated by David Linebaugh, Delta Tech Ops and joined by additional MARPA Air Carrier Members:

  • Steve Jones (American Airlines)
  • Ed Pozzi (United Airlines)
  • Jim McPhail (Delta Air Lines)
  • Pete Lauria (Delta Air Lines)
  • Lutz Michnikowski (Lufthansa Technik)
→Meeting Closes … THANK YOU! At the close of the meeting, we will hold a drawing for a MARPA-radio-controlled helicopter

MARPA Comments on the FAA’s Sequencing SOP

MARPA has filed comments with the FAA on the DRAFT Sequencing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) ["Aircraft Certification Service Sequencing Procedure"].

The SOP details the FAA’s mechanism for prioritizing certification, approval and validation projects.

This SOP would have a tremendous affect on the rights of private parties. The sequencing decisions about which projects will get FAA resources and which ones will be delayed, will have a tremendous impact on business and profitability, because the FAA approval process is often a bottleneck on innovation. A safety improvement project that is delayed for weeks or months could inhibit safety not only because of the delay, but also because for many companies – particularly smaller ones – delay can mean the difference between whether the company is successful or whether the company may run out of financing before it can bring its safety improvement to the marketplace.

MARPA’s comments address a variety of issues raised by the FAA’s draft in an effort to assist the FAA in improving the draft SOP. Many of MARPA’s comments center around the safety index values established in the SOP, which appear to provide an unfair advantage to companies meeting certain profiles.  In particular, it appears that small businesses could be placed at a competitive disadvantage by the draft SOP.

FAA Funding Extended Through January 31, 2012

As we reported earlier, the deal to extend FAA funding through January 31, 2012 is in place.  The Senate approved the extension bill yesterday.  The House had approved this earlier this week.

While this permits the FAA to operate for a few more months, the continuing resolution still fails to permit the FAA to confidently develop a strategic plan for the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

SNAFU: Situation Normal, Authorization for FAA Unfunded

After more than a week the FAA remains unfunded.  Congress still has not passed a law that authorizes payment of the FAA’s bills.

As we discussed in this blog a week ago, The FAA Authorization was allowed to lapse at midnight on July 23.  As a consequence, 4000 FAA employees who were deemed “non-essential” were furloughed.  While the newspapers may call these personnel “non-essential,” in many cases they are the safety professionals who are absolutely essential to continued advances in aviation safety.  These people remain out of work, today.  In addition, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) estimates that 70,000 construction workers and workers in related fields have been affected.

This issue seems to have become the victim of bigger stories – the impending debt deal has riveted CNN viewers but it has also distracted the public from the fact that we’ve already stopped funding the FAA.

The FAA posted their own press release on the status update this morning.  In their press release, they implored Members of Congress “not to fly home for the August recess without passing an FAA bill.”

House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

The House has passed their version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill.  It passed by a vote of 223-196.

A summary of the bill can be found online at http://www.gop.gov/bill/112/1/hr658.  The bill text (before amendments) can be found online.

The bill cuts FAA funding by $4 billion over the next four years.

The bill adds production privileges to Certified Design Organizations (CDO), turning them in to Certified Design and Production Organizations (CDPOs).  The bill also affirms the deadline for CDPO is January 1, 2013.

The bill requires a study of certification and approval mechanisms.  It must estimate the expected number of applications for production certifications and approvals and recommend process reforms necessary to allow the Administrator to review and approve the applications in a fair and timely fashion.  Congress also expects the study to address methods for enhancing the effective use of delegation systems, including organizational designation authorization (ODA).

The bill would establish an advisory committee to address inconsistent regulatory interpretation.

The bill reverses a recent decision of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which we had discussed in this blog on June 2, 2010. The NMB decision made it easier for unions to organize employers in the airline and rail industries, and conformed these industries with the labor practices of other industries; however, the decision had changed 75 years of precedent in the airline and rail industries.  The Bill wold reverse the decision and return collective bargaining to the status quo.

The bill would also strengthen the FAA’s requirements to perform certain cost-benefit analysis.  The recent drug-testing-reg-flex debacle had undermined public confidence in the FAA’s ability to perform statutorily-required cost-benefit analysis.

The bill would require the FAA to verify that each certified foreign repair station has been subject to a safety assessment.

The bill must be conferenced with the Senate version in order to come up with a final version.

FAA Associate Administrator Gilligan Provides an Update on FAA Priorities

The global aviation safety community met in New Orleans on June 8, 2010 at the FAA EASA International Safety Meeting.  The  FAA EASA International Safety Meeting is an opportunity for the government of the world to coordinate their aviation safety regulatory and implementation efforts.  FAA Associate Administrator Peggy Gilligan provided an update on US aviation safety activities.

Gilligan explained that the FAA Reauthorization Bill is still under development.  The House and Senate have passed their different versions and those pieces of legislation are awaiting reconciliation.  Reconciliation will lead to a harmonized vision of the strategic plan for the FAA.  The delay in achieving this final legislation, though, has an effect on the entire international aviation community.

Our international aviation community is a network of networks, and we are all inter-reliant.  The Icelandic volcano was a good example of how the entire community is affected by a domestic event.  When our community recognized a need to work together on the issue, ICAO pulled all of the world’s governments together to work on this issue together.  This shows that what happens in one nation can affect all of us together.

Thus, it is particularly important that the world’s governments work together to achieve the goals that will support NextGen.  This means developing a proactive approach to safety management and just culture.  And this is why the FAA feels that SMS is an important element to develop the ideals that will support effective use of the NextGen system.

Peggy Gilligan also provided a quick update on some of the recent changes in her organization.  She explained that Jay Pardee is leading the FAA’s Accident Prevention and Investigation Service, and Tony Fazio is his deputy.  This is an expanded role for the traditional accident investigation group, and it is intended to permit them to implement a State Safety Program that examines data to proactively prevents aviation safety hazards in the future.  The group is able to eapand its role to include proactive accident prevention because the FAA has been so successful in limiting accidents, and this group’s expertise is well suited to analyzing data to prevent hazards from arising in the future.  John Allen (Director of the FAA Flight Standards Service) and John McGraw have been joined by Ray Towles in the leadership of Flight Standards.  Ray Towles will take over as Deputy Director for the Field.  McGraw continues to be Deputy Director for Policy.

FAA Charts a New Course, Promoting Professionalism

The FAA announced a new focus on professionalism as an element supporting the NextGen system.

The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting opened in New Orleans today (June 8, 2010).  The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting is an opportunity for the government of the world to coordinate their aviation safety regulatory and implementation efforts.  Industry is invited to support those efforts.

David Grizzle keynoted the meeting.  Grizzle is currently acting as the Deputy Administrator, but his normal role is FAA Chief Counsel.

He noted that the FAA does not want to be perceived as presumptuous.  As an example, he noted that the US FAA was asked to get involved in responding to the Icelandic volcano.  In responding to those requests, he explained that the FAA wanted to provide support where it was needed, but the FAA did not want to be seen as claiming special knowledge.

This became an issue because the United States would have approached the volcano issue differently, but did not want to interfere with European decisions.  Grizzle explained that air carriers have excellent systems, and they have the resources that can help them make flight decisions.  Thus, the FAA would have trusted existing air carrier systems to prevent unsafe flight operations.  So in Europe when the governments closed down broad swaths of airspace, this was a different approach than what the US would have done.

The US is working with its counterparts in other nations to coordinate international development of NextGen.  Nextgen represents a significant culture change.  So the FAA is trying to ake the underlying principles of NextGen and trying to let them become pervasive principles that pervade the operations of the agency and the industry.  Grizzle explained that Nextgen is not just about technology – it is about standards and operating principles.  One of these is the principle of partnership.  There is an element of collaboration in air traffic management that is elemental to Nextgen and that simply does not yet exist in today’s air traffic management paradigms.  Another element is performance based safety standards.  Instead of telling operators how to achieve safety, they will give them standards that must be met and permit the operators to choose their own strategies for meeting those safety standards.  This gives rise to a new emphasis on professionalism.  Some of the recent problems in aviation have been attributable to a deficiency of professionalism – violations of norms and standards that no one finds acceptable.

Discussions of professionalism can be uncomfortable because, like ethics, professionalism can be somewhat difficult to quantify, and it can be somewhat difficult to define in a way that is uniformly accepted.

Professionalism means that the individuals are principle-based actors, and not just followers of rules.  This involves a mindset and attitude about the conduct of one’s life that is more pervasive than the norm.  This poses a challenge for the FAA and other aviation authorities about how do we teach professionalism.

The FAA is trying to focus on a “just culture” paradigm.  Part of the “just culture” paradigm is the idea is that we do not punish people for good faith mistakes (assuming the accidental actor reports and proactively works with the FAA to seek preventative paradigms), but rather we try to learn from those mistakes and we use the information learned from those incidents to prevent future problems.  This “just culture” paradigm is about focusing on behavior rather than outcome.  But there will be a challenge in trying to convince people that identifying remedies and preventative paradigms is more important to long-term safety than allocating blame.

An important element of this “just culture” paradigm is rewarding energetic good faith reporting.  If we encourage reporting, then we encourage data collection that supports a risk-based reporting environment.

Grizzle made a call for leadership from the entire international aviation community in order to make our professionals, the leaders that we all need them to be.

Experts Debate the Future of Aviation

The initial meeting of the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee took place on May 25, 2010 at the Department of Transportation building in Washington, DC.  This is a Committee that is charged with examining some of the issues facing aviation and developing recommendations for responses to those issues.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood welcomed the committee and explained that the idea for the FAAC came from a meeting with union representatives (Pat Friend of the Flight Attendants’ Union) in Florida, who asked him to do something to find solutions to come of the issues facing the aviation industry.

Secretary LaHood explained that the Committee has been charged with addressing five broad issue areas facing the industry:

  • -          Insuring aviation safety
  • -          Ensuring a world class work force
  • -          Balancing competitiveness and viability
  • -          Financing
  • -          Environment

The Secretary said that he intends for the Committee to

  1. Recommend actions we can take now that will make a real difference
  2. Consider Federal rulemaking, legislation, and compliance measures as options
  3. Use the diversity of the committee to achieve real results

Secretary LaHood explained that the ultimate goal is to improve the aviation system and the way that the public interacts with it.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt was also on hand to welcome the participants.  He stressed the importance of focusing on safety as we seek improvements in the industry.

The Committee is made up of the following participants:
•    Committee Chair: Susan L. Kurland – Asst Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, DOT
•    Designated Federal Officer: Pamela Hamilton – Director of Rulemaking, Federal Aviation Administration
•    Juan J. Alonso – Associate Professor in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Stanford University
•    Susan M. Baer, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
•    David Barger – President and CEO, JetBlue Airways Corporation
•    Bryan K. Bedford – Chairman, President & CEO, Republic Airways
•    Severin Borenstein – Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business
•    Thella F. Bowens – President & CEO, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
•    John M. Conley – Intl Admin VP, Transport Workers Union of America
•    Cynthia M. Egnotovich – Segment President, Nacelles and Interior Systems, Goodrich Corporation
•    Patricia A. Friend – International President, Association of Flight Attendants
•    Robert L. Lekites – President, UPS Airlines
•    Ana McAhron-Schulz – Dir. of Economic and Financial Analysis, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
•    William J. McGee – Consultant to the Consumers Union
•    Daniel McKenzie – CFA, Hudson Securities
•    Jack J. Pelton – Chairman, President, and CEO, Cessna Aircraft Company
•    Nicole W. Piasecki – Vice President of Business Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
•    Raul Regalado – President & CEO, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
•    Glenn F. Tilton – Chairman, President & CEO, UAL Corporation
•    Christopher J. Williams – Chairman, CEO and founder of The Williams Capital Group, L.P.

Despite the industry diversity that the Secretary stressed, the fact is that none of the participants represent either small business interests nor the aviation aftermarket.

The following represents a sampling of the comments from the safety discussion.

Nicole Piasecki, the Boeing representative recognized that the industry has cooperated to achieve incredible safety gains since the 1990s.  The model that has been most successful has been a model in which we have all worked together to achieve these results.  A commitment to data-driven and risk-based analysis has also helped to foster an open safety culture.  She explained that this is one of the pillars upon which our future efforts must be based.

JetBlue President David Barger explained that these five elements are very much related.  An additional element that is not mentioned, but that is very important, is security.  He felt that there was no need to incentivize safety because safety is its own incentive.  But you don’t know what you don’t know so collecting data and using it to drive our efforts is very important.

Susan Baer said that human factors is a very important factor in safety.  An environment that encourages self-reporting is important.

John Conley explained that we all say we are committed to safety, but sometimes safety is elusive.  He noted that he was recently at the Louisville sorting facility and saw everyone stopping at the stop signs in the facility.  That is where it starts – with a commitment to safety and safety culture.

William McGee, who represents the Consumers Union, explained that the data does not always tell the story.  He wants to address the critical issue of maintenance outsourcing.  In order to maintain that stellar safety record we need to look at what’s changed and how we adapt to that.  We need to ask whether we are doing all we can to make sure that the aircraft is being maintained to the best possible standards.

Bryan Bedford from Republic Airlines reminded everyone that we started the one level of safety initiative 15 years ago and we agreed that collaborating was better than confrontation.  Part of this was removing the threat of job action when employees tell the company how the programs are working and how they can be improved.  It seems that there is a mood change in which we are moving towards a confrontation and enforcement based approach.  So he asked those in government to be mindful of the importance of the partnership in working together towards safety.  Collaboration is better than confrontation.  And job security is also important because employees who believe that their jobs are secure will perform better.

Glenn Tilton of United explained that this is a complex industry.  There are important attitudes and behaviors that we want to encourage.  It is easier to be safety conscious when we are profitable.

Ana McAhron-Schulz echoed the importance of encouraging voluntary process, and asked that we also consider ways to streamline the rulemaking process.

Professor Juan Alonso commended the industry for its tremendous safety record.  He explained that we need to be prognostic rather than diagnostic.

Cynthia Egnotovich explained thatit is critical to have the same standards for maintenance everywhere.  The same standards should apply worldwide hen it comes to overhauling parts.

A common theme among the participants was the importance of systems-based approach to safety (SMS) as well as the importance of human factors and creating an environment in which employees are comfortable participating in safety.

Severin Borenstein is a former staff economist from the CAB.  He explained that with economic deregulation we have seen both robust competition and volatility.  So we need to make sure we have protocols or ensuring safety even when an air carrier is in bankruptcy.

Pat Freind asked that the group look at ARAC and determine whether it serves any purpose other than causing frustration among the participants.

The Chair asked how the FAA can incentivize the voluntary adoption of risk-based data-driven programs.

David Barger repeated that he sees no need to incentivize safety best practices.  His organization’s door is open to any other organization and there is no need to impose mandates to share data.

Susan Baer reminded the group that it is important to share data with the FAA as well.

Bryan Bedford, the Venture Capitalist, said that there must be a way to identify which air carriers have the best safety mechanisms, and that there should be some way of acknowledging the safety systems of the carriers – this will allow consumers to judge carriers non their safety practices, and this also provides carriers with an incentive to promote safety within their organizations.

Pat Friend noted that the industry has traditionally been unwilling to compete on safety.  Why is this? she asked.

Bryan Bedford explained that the different FSDOs, and even the principal inspectors, each have different interpretations of the regulations.  The regulatory regime does not accommodate one level of safety very well in light of the fact that it there are so many details that are subject to differing interpretations from different individuals within the regulatory agency.

Glenn Tilton feels that the air carriers do compete on safety, as they each try to improve safety through different approaches.  We cannot lose sight of the point that there are going to be more bankruptcies in the air carrier sector.  That volatility is a challenge to the investment that is made in this industry.

David Barger explained that his continuity in the Garden City FSDO has helped to promote trust between JetBlue and the FSDO, and has fostered open communication about safety issues.  Thus, the idea of periodically rotating Principal Inspectors seems to him to undermine safety goals.

Secretary LaHood explained that the he is stunned at how long it takes to make a rule.  It takes too long.

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