In response to the pandemic and education's immediate need to deploy online learning in the midst of school closures, on March 12, 2020, the FAA published a memo directing its inspector workforce to provide regulatory relief for part 147 schools electing to provide A&P program content to students online (see related story).
Since the deviation memo and a subsequent revision (see M330-8000.1-G-2003-0718, dated April 1, 2020) were published, the number of certificated aviation maintenance training schools that received permanent and/or temporary authorization to provide provide content online has grown to 61 percent. (Before COVID, less than 5 percent of the 184 certificated schools had permanent distance learning authorization from the FAA.)
FAA officials have stated that the agency does not intend to terminate the deviation memo anytime soon, and that barring any unforeseeable circumstances, it will remain in force through the 2021-2022 academic year. As a reminder, the memo alone does not provide schools the authority to provide FAA-approved curriculum online, but instead directs the FAA inspector workforce to approve distance learning programs using less stringent guidelines than what is currently directed in the 8900.1 guidance.
While the deviation memo was welcome news for schools last spring, the part 147 interim direct rule (expected to publish in November 2021) will provide further relief. If promulgated as directed, distance learning programs will no longer require FAA approval. That is, schools will have the freedom to deliver content in whatever manner deemed most appropriate, and in line with their accredited programs. The FAA will check the quality of the education through assessment of the school's mechanic test passing rates, and by ensuring that the A&P curriculum aligns with airman certification standards. Get the latest information on the The New Part 147 landing page.
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