September 14, 2020
WASHINGTON—The FAA remains confident that it will finalize a long-awaited revamp of U.S. mechanic training standards by the end of 2020, Administrator Steve Dickson said Sept. 14.
“We’re working very hard to push this on through the rulemaking process and get it on the street by the end of this year,” Dickson told attendees of the Aviation Technician Education Council’s virtual annual conference.
The effort to modernize Part 147, which certified aviation maintenance technician schools must use to build curriculum, has been going on for years. Approved in 1970 and modified little since, Part 147 lags far behind modern aviation technology, such as composite repair, forcing maintenance providers to invest significantly in training new hires on basic skills.
The update effort’s most recent milestone was an April 2019 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, which addressed several industry concerns with a November 2015 draft rule. Among them were expanding competency-based training standards that would allow deviations from a fixed set of hours to teach skills.
More recently, the FAA has been tackling another key issue raised by industry: updating mechanic airman certification standards (ACS) that define minimum skills mechanics need to have. ACS are used to develop tests used to award airframe and engine certificates, and industry maintains aligning them with revised training requirements in Part 147 is critical to developing a well-trained workforce. An FAA-industry working group crated draft ACS, and the agency plans to issue policy that reflects it soon after a new Part 147 is issued. A draft of the policy is being vetted by U.S. Transportation Department officials. The FAA plans to provide a public-comment period on the revised ACS.
Dickson acknowledged the importance of aligning the ACS with the new training standards but stopped short of offering a time line for the policy’s issuance.
“We’re going to push it out as soon as we can,” Dickson said. “It’s a very high priority to get this done.”