FAA Extends Designees Deadlines to April 30 – Offers Plan for Next Shutdown

During the last government shutdown, ASA asked the FAA to issue guidance extending the termination dates of all designees who expired during the shutdown, in order to allow them to continue providing critical safety-related services to the aviation industry.  This was due to the fact that as they were expiring, there was no FAA staffing to renew their designations during the shutdown.

The FAA was unable to do this (it was outside the scope of the Antideficiency Act and the DOT guidance).  But they did the next best thing. When FAA safety personnel returned to work before the end of the shutdown, they made designee oversight a priority. And then as soon as they could issue useful guidance, they did so.

On the first work day that the government was opened after the shutdown, the FAA published guidance explaining that designees in good standing may continue to perform authorized functions in an active status without regard to the status shown on the various designee databases (DIN, DMS or VIS). It also specifically allows designees to extend certain due dates for (1) designee recurrent training, (2) oversight, and (3) renewal. Those training, oversight and renewal dates are extended to April 30, 2019.

 

Which Designees are Affected by the Memo?

The memo applies to both Flight Standards Service designees (like DAR-T) and Aircraft Certification Service designees (like DAR-F, DMIR, and DER).  It does not apply to Air Carrier Check Pilot observations.

 

Which Due Dates are Affected by the Memo?

The memo applies to deadlines for required designee recurrent training, for required designee oversight, and/or for required designee renewal, when those deadlines arise during the period from December 22, 2018 through April 29, 2019.  The deadlines that fall during this period are extended to April 30, 2019.

 

What about ODA Unit Members?

The memo also applies to ODA unit members.  The may continue to perform authorized functions during this period.

 

How Does This Affect A Future Shutdown?

In the event the FAA experiences another lapse in funding, the memo wil continue to apply to that shutdown.  Such a subsequent shutdown has already been threatened and could arise after February 15, 2019.  If a subsequent shutdown lasts beyond April 30, 2019 then the FAA would have to find another solution (but no government shutdown has ever lasted than long).

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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.

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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