FAA seeks comments on drug and alcohol tests for foreign MROs

Washington DC
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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking comment on how to implement a drug and alcohol testing policy for certain maintenance personnel outside of the USA working on commercial aircraft.

The rule would require certain maintenance workers at Part 145 repair stations outside of the USA to undergo the FAA-approved drug and alcohol tests, as long as they are in line with each country's respective laws. Affected by the rule would be personnel performing “safety-sensitive” aircraft and preventive maintenance for part 121 operators, says the agency in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM).

Congress required the FAA to propose a rule to extend drug tests to certain maintenance workers outside of the USA as part of the FAA Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012.

The agency notes that the new rule could pose challenges given its international nature.

“The FAA is aware, however, that establishing drug and alcohol testing requirements for such personnel presents complex practical and legal issues and could impose potentially significant costs on industry,” says the notice. “Therefore, the FAA is issuing this ANPRM, rather than an NPRM, to seek comments from the public, as well as interested governments, to help inform the development of a proposed rule and the analysis of its economic impact.”

The FAA says it is also considering requiring Part 121 carriers to require maintenance workers performing these “safety-sensitive” functions outside of a Part 145 environment to comply with the drug and alcohol testing programmes.

The Alexandria, Virginia-based Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) says it expects to file a comment on the proposal.

"ARSA looks forward to ensuring the congressionally mandated drug and alcohol testing requirements are implemented 'consistent with the applicable laws of the country in which the repair station is located'," says the association’s executive director Sarah MacLeod in a statement. “Final action cannot be allowed to jeopardise the delicate framework of international civil aviation agreements and national sovereignty. ARSA encourages the international aviation community to submit comments and urge their governments to do the same.”