A White House memo appears to be the
reason why we haven't seen any new airworthiness directives issued
by the FAA over the past several weeks.
The Wall Street Journal reports a memo signed by White House
Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on January 20 directed all federal
agencies to freeze any pending regulations that originated during
the Bush administration... until they could be reviewed by the new
sheriffs in town.
In addition to holding off decisions on such political footballs
as new mining and drilling standards, the rule also prevented the
FAA from issuing any new ADs over a two-week period.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the memo left the FAA's
authority in limbo... which was apparantly compounded by the
January 23 confirmation of Ray LaHood as US Transportation
Secretary. The spokeswoman described "an initial indication that
were considered rules," as defined by the White House, so "we had
to clarify the issue."
LaHood signed a new memo on February 5 that clarified the FAA's
authority, "allowing ADs to be issued," said DOT spokesman Bill
Mosley... who added the department is "looking at how to complement
the chief of staff's direction across our rulemaking actions."
Brown stressed flight safety was not compromised by the
oversight, stating if a particular situation warranted emergency
action "we could and would have done that." This week, the FAA
released four new proposals for ADs, though no final decisions have
The situation raised eyebrows among FAA oversight groups.
Richard Williams of Denver-based Aviation DataSource Inc. notes
previous changeovers between presidential administrations never
affected the FAA... but "[t]his time, they managed to stop the FAA
bureaucracy dead in its tracks."