This was in Avweb this morning...
ALASKANS STOP FAA COLD, MODS RULE SUSPENDED...
A loose coalition of Alaska airlines, charter companies and maintenance
firms has gained a temporary exemption from a national policy on
aftermarket aircraft modifications. On Sept. 13, the FAA announced a
new policy regarding field approval for major repairs and non-STC
modifications to aircraft. Previously, field inspectors had wide
latitude in making those approvals. To enforce uniform standards, the
new policy requires all but the simplest modifications to be reviewed by
committees of FAA officials. The new rule also banned all field
approvals on Part 121 (scheduled service) aircraft.
Earlier this month, as FAA officials began enforcing the rule, Alaskans
got organized. Todd Bureau, a tour company operator out of Hope,
Alaska, said they bombarded their congressmen and pressured the regional
FAA brass and on Thursday the order was lifted in Alaska. FAA officials
agree the "information" they received from Alaskan aviators prompted the
action. "I think it's a good thing for us to respond quickly when there
might be an impact on our customers," said Joette Storm, the FAA's
community relations manager for Alaska. Storm says the exemption for
Alaska is temporary (how temporary, she couldn't say) and that the move
to a national standard for such things is in everyone's interest.
"We're looking for consistency," she said. We'll soon see if she means
consistent like the conditions in Arizona, or those in Alaska.
...FIELD APPROVALS COMMON
Bureau said the only thing consistent about Alaskan operating conditions
is their lack of consistency. Necessity has led to innovation and
inventions that keep the planes flying in amazing circumstances. The
FAA staff in the north became equally adaptive and field approvals
became a matter of course. There were 2300 last year, according to
Storm. Bureau doesn't use his Piper PA20 commercially but may to
commute and became involved in the issue while seeking to put studded
tires on his plane.
NOTE: See AVweb's NewsWire at <http://avweb.com/n/?45a> for the full
text of the FAA's policy.