FAA is asking foreign governments and operators of foreign part 145 aviation maintenance operations whether drug and alcohol testing of their safety-sensitive employees is lawful and in what circumstances.

FAA Extends Comment Period on Testing of Foreign Maintenance Workers

The comment deadline on the agency's ANPRM is now July 17, after IATA and two other parties asked for more time.

Acting at the request of Airlines for America, the International Air Transport Association, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the Federal Aviation Administration has added 60 days to the comment period for its advance notice of proposed rulemaking that would require that air carriers ensure that all safety-sensitive maintenance employees of certificated repair stations, and certain other maintenance organizations, that are located outside the United States, are subject to a drug and alcohol testing program. This ANPRM was issued in response to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which gave FAA one year to propose such a rule.

FAA has outlined some of the financial and legal challenges facing airlines if it enacts the rule, explaining that it issued an ANPRM rather than an NPRM to seek comments from the public and interested governments. "FAA understands that other countries may have a wide variety of laws and regulations concerning the use of and testing for alcohol and drugs. The FAA further understands that other countries' laws and regulations concerning other matters, such as personal privacy and employment, may affect whether and under what circumstances drug and alcohol testing may be conducted in those countries. Some countries might need to pass authorizing legislation before they could permit testing within their borders. The FAA also recognizes the diversity of policy, moral, and religious views that exist internationally regarding drug and alcohol use and testing," the agency stated.

It is asking foreign commenters to explain the laws and regulations that could affect the permissibility of drug and alcohol testing in their countries, the circumstances under which such testing may be conducted, how it may be conducted (pre-employment, random, reasonable cause/suspicion, post-accident, etc.), and which categories of aviation personnel are subject to the requirements.

Currently, there are about 120 part 145 repair stations located outside the United States whose employees perform safety-sensitive maintenance functions on aircraft operated by part 121 air carriers, and there are also organizations in one foreign country that are not part 145 repair stations, but whose employees perform safety-sensitive maintenance functions on aircraft operated by part 121 air carriers, according to the ANPRM.

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