Those readers of the MARPA blog who have attended a MARPA Annual Conference in the past two years probably heard the FAA’s David Hempe give a presentation discussing the transformation currently underway at the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) division. As we have previously discussed here and elsewhere, the goal of this transformation is to shift AIR from a compliance-based certification strategy (wherein an applicant makes a showing and the FAA issues a finding on a one-for-one basis) to an oversight-based certification strategy (wherein the FAA focuses more broadly on standards and systems oversight in order to ensure applicants are remaining compliant). Mr. Hempe’s presentations have provided a great deal of information and insight into this transformation, and MARPA is grateful for his participation and willingness to answer conference attendee questions over the course of the conference.
Obviously, such a transformation will require change by industry; but more importantly the FAA understands that it will also require a culture shift within the agency itself to reflect this change away from a compliance model toward an oversight model. To that end, the FAA has offered a briefing to applicants and approval holders (those who will be affected by the AIR transformation) to offer an update on where the transition stands and what to expect as AIR reorganizes.
The briefing first notes the benefits of the AIR transformation. These are worth reiterating:
- Encourage early industry engagement and risk-based monitoring to eliminate later unnecessary FAA involvement
- Improve consistency and standardization
- Foster innovation by engaging industry applicants early to understand new concepts and ensure path to compliance
- Provide agility and adaptability
- Establish practices for using metrics to determine efficacy
The next step in reorganization implementation will be the first step visible to industry. AIR will begin realigning the organization to shift the existing offices, like ACOs and MIDOs out of the current directorate structure and into alignment with AIR’s functional divisions. For instance, ACOs will all be aligned under the Compliance & Airworthiness Division, while MIDOs will align under the System Oversight Division. Currently, both ACOs and MIDOs are spread across the Transport Directorate, Small Airplane Directorate, Engine and Propeller Directorate, and Rotorcraft Directorate. This creates significant unnecessary redundancy and confusion, particularly if a company designs and manufactures parts for different categories of products.
After realignment, the Directorate structure will no longer exist.
Because of the nature of the process, existing industry Points of Contact will be retained during realignment to ensure relationships are maintained and contact with appropriate employees is facilitated. This is an important feature because as with every transition there exists the possibility for confusion.
AIR will continue to brief industry on the transition and solicit industry feedback as it progresses. MARPA encourages you to maintain a consistent dialogue with your FAA contacts to let them know about any problems with the transition or implementation that you identify, particularly if it the transition messages don’t seem to be reaching the personnel you deal with regularly. MARPA would also be happy to hear feedback from our members so that we can bring any concerns or positive feedback from you to the FAA. Please feel free to email VP of Government and Industry Affairs Ryan Aggergaard at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have feedback on the AIR transformation process.