As you may know, the various FAA offices and inspectors within those offices routinely provide responses/guidance on issues that may be inconsistent with other FAA offices and even with other inspectors in the same office. In the past, the only way to really resolve the inconsistency was to request a formal legal interpretation from the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel. However, in 2012 the FAA Reauthorization created an FAA/Industry Committee, the “Consistency of Regulatory Interpretation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (CRI ARC)” to address this issue.
On November 28, 2012 the CRI ARC issued a Report that recommended that “the FAA establish a Regulatory Consistency Communication Board (RCCB) comprising representatives from AFS, AIR, and the Office of Chief Counsel (AGC) that would provide clarification to FAA personnel and certificate/approval holders and applicants on questions related to the application of regulations.” Based upon that recommendation, the FAA created its Regulatory Consistency Communications Board (“RCCB”).
So, how does the RCCB work? Well, when one of these situations arises in which a stakeholder (e.g. a pilot, mechanic, air carrier, repair station etc.) is receiving inconsistent information from the FAA regarding application of the regulations, that stakeholder is able to submit the issue/question to the RCCB and request that it clarify application of the regulations at issue to remove/resolve the FAA’s inconsistent application of those regulations. The members of the RCCB then convene and issue a resolution of the issue with each of AFS, AIR and AGC concurring in that resolution.
Although it has started slow, it appears that the RCCB is delivering as anticipated. So far it has issued at least two memorandums addressing issues presented to it by stakeholders. In one case the RCCB answered the question of whether the revision dates of maintenance manuals are required to be listed in the maintenance record entry required 14 CFR § 43.9. In another case it clarified that Type Certificate Data Sheets (TCDS) are regulatory and are included as part of the type design.
So, now if you find yourself in a situation in which you are receiving conflicting positions from the FAA regarding application of the regulations, you have two places you can go to try and get a definitive answer: the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel or the RCCB. And at some point in the future, hopefully, the FAA will also create a Master Source Guidance System, another recommendation from the CRI ARC. But it is unclear if, or when, that may happen.