The PARTT 147 Act, legislation that rewrites Title 14 CFR part 147, is part of the massive omnibus bill expected to become law by Christmas Day.
Introduced last December, the Act reached a major milestone when it endured Senate and House committee markup and was subsequently made part of the Aviation Safety Act earlier this month. That aviation bill was ultimately rolled into the omnibus Consolidated Appropriates Act of 2021 (see page 3030 of 5593), which includes--among a host of other provisions--funding extensions and coronavirus relief.
Once passed into law, the bill will direct the FAA to remove the current part 147 and replace it with language drafted by the ATEC community. The new regulation will rely heavily on emerging airman certification standards, which will be the basis for part 147 program curriculum moving forward. The regulation also provides for "additional fixed locations" (e.g., to facilitate high school partnership programs), removes all reference to static curriculum and hour requirements, and, for federally-accredited institutions, no longer requires FAA approval of curriculum and grading systems.
"This was a monumental win for the aviation industry, and will forever change the landscape of aviation technical education," said ATEC legislative committee chair and Southern Utah University Director of Global Aviation Maintenance Training Jared Britt. "After advocating for FAA regulatory relief for over a decade, a coalition of academia, labor, and industry came together to demand change. And look at what we accomplished."
Indeed, earlier this month a group of 23 organizations sent a letter to House committee leadership, urging committee members to retain PARTT 147 Act language adopted in the Senate Commerce Committee's aviation certification reform bill. The coalition was backed by a steadfast and bipartisan group of congressional champions including Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).
"Our champions worked tirelessly on our behalf. Their staffers are first-class, and we could not thank them enough for the time and effort they dedicated to our industry over the last 18 months," said Britt. "The community is also indebted to ATEC's legislative and regulatory committee members, who worked tirelessly to draft and refine the legislative language, and to the scores that educated congressional leaders on the need for reform."
ATEC extends a special thanks to its Change Masters (you know who you are!), the ones with the ideas that moved our community beyond its established practice, and forced their ideas into visions.
A webinar is scheduled for Jan. 13 @ 1 PM CT to review and discuss the new rule. Under the law, the FAA is directed to issue the new part 147 on or about April 1 (no joke).
A coalition of 23 organizations sent a letter to House committee leadership encouraging support for long-awaited part 147 reform. The PARTT 147 Act (S.3043/H.R.5427), a bipartisan, bicameral bill introduced last December, was included in the Senate Commerce Committee's reported draft of the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act of 2020 (S.3969), but not in the House version of the bill (H.R.8408). The coalition urged committee leaders to retain the language in the final certification reform bill.
Industry has long pushed for a new part 147 through formal FAA rulemaking (see a full summary of our efforts here), and late last year doubled its efforts by calling on Congress for help. The recent Senate commerce committee markup was a big step in the legislative initiative, and provides a path forward for the community-drafted, performance-based part 147 to become law.
"Leading up to the pandemic, part 147 programs were not able to meet industry’s workforce demand; outdated and burdensome regulatory requirements exacerbated an already short supply of aviation technicians," said the coalition in its letter to committee leaders. "Given the mass exodus of qualified personnel due to COVID-19, industry’s post-pandemic recovery is greatly dependent on its ability to efficiently and effectively replace the devastating loss of technical experience. Reform of part 147 is now more important than ever."
For the Act to become law, House and Senate negotiators will need to agree to retain the PARTT 147 Act's language in the final version of the certification reform bill. It would then need the president's signature in early January, before the 117th Congress convenes.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.