ASA Members Confirm that Designee Oversight is Restarting

We have been communicating with senior FAA management about the issue of FAA designees whose privileges expire during the government shutdown.  While renewal is usually a straight-forward process, the shutdown has prevented the FAA from renewing designee privileges that are essential to the continued safe functioning of the aviation system.  Designee oversight is an important part of the FAA’s safety oversight system, and FAA has identified it as one of the important functions that should be conducted during the shutdown.

Yesterday, we reported that nearly 3000 additional FAA aviation safety staff had been ordered back to work. We are already seeing the results of this return.

Today, members began to confirm that the FAA was confirming renewal of designee privileges through their online system.  We know that some flight standards designees who were awaiting renewal have received their renewal notifications.

Aircraft certification designees should start enjoying the same oversight, as well.  The FAA has confirmed that some Aircraft Certification staff are among the safety personnel being recalled.

As of today the MIDO’s are nearly up to full strength. The FAA’s focus is on returning the MIDO employees to work, restructuring oversight plans, and starting surveillance up again.  This should be good news for DARs whose delegated privileges are issued via a MIDO.  FAA senior management has clarified that one of the focal areas for the returning aviation safety staff is designee oversight (including both ODAs and individual designees).  The FAA is also recalling a small number of Aircraft Certification engineers, who will be focused on continued airworthiness tasks, including designee oversight (e.g. DERs).

These returning FAA employees will continue to work without pay until the lapse in funding has ended. Congress passed a bi-partisan bill to ensure payment of back-pay to the federal employees, and that bill was signed by the President yesterday, so we know they will be paid, eventually. ASA continues to empathize with the FAA staff whose pay remains withheld, but we also remain proud of the dedicated FAA staff who are returning to their safety mission during the funding lapse.

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Renewing Delegated Privileges During the Shutdown

Delegated privileges for DARs, DERs and DMIRs need to be periodically renewed. Normally, the renewal period is annual (every twelve months).  This affects many people in the aircraft parts community, including the DARs who issue 8130-3 tags for aircraft parts.

Under current guidance, a designee that is not renewed by their expiration date will be automatically placed in expired status.  When a designee is placed in expired status, he or she is not permitted to exercise the delegated functions.

A designee in expired status has a 90 day window.   During that 90 day period, the managing office is expected to determine a follow-on action, that is, either reappointment or termination.  In the event no FAA action is taken, then the action defaults to termination.

This could be a real problem for those designees whose expiration arises during the current lapse in funding (aka the shutdown), because there is likely nobody in the local office who can renew their delegated privileges.

To remedy this, we have asked the FAA senior management to issue a memo that tolls the expiration date of DAR, DER and DMIR delegated privileges.  This would have the effect of freezing the privileges as they existed on December 21, and if they were scheduled to expire between that date and the resumption of funding, then the privileges  would continue in place through the tenth business day after funding resumes (to permit a window of time to process the backlog).

This is a proposal only – and it is likely that the FAA will be unable to issue this proposed memo during the shutdown.

After the 2013 shutdown, FAA issued extensions and deviations once the government was reopened – we expect that this is the approach that will be used again in 2019.  Although the precise nature of the extensions and deviations that will be issued after the shutdown cannot be predicted, we hope that ASA’s draft memo tolling the expiration date of expiring delegations will be used as a template to endorse DAR work performed during the shutdown.

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