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Ryan Aggergaard

Ryan Aggergaard has written 16 posts for MARPA

MARPA Comments on New FAA PMA Policy

In January, we wrote in this space about two new FAA Policy Statement proposals aimed at increasing coordination between FAA offices in the cases of certain engine PMA and propeller PMA applications.  MARPA is always on the lookout for those potential regulations and policies–whether large or small–that could effect our members.  In an effort to best support the industry, MARPA solicits feedback from members and files comments addressing the concerns of the PMA community with the FAA.  MARPA also works to support the FAA in order to provide industry’s perspective and needs in order to help develop the best rules, policy, and guidance possible.

Last week we filed comments on draft policy statements PS-ANE-33.3-05 and PS-ANE-35.15-02. These two statements were substantially similar in content, and therefore raised similar concerns.  The policy statements are intended to create a uniform policy describing the engine and propeller PMA projects for which an ACO is required to use the national certification project notification (CPN) database to alert the Certification Management ACO (CMACO) and Engine and Propeller Directorate (EPD) about the project.  The purpose is to enable the CMACO and EPD to provide relevant input when the PMA application is for a project the failure of which may result in a loss of thrust or power.

MARPA noted several possible issues with the proposed Policy Statements.  First, our comments noted that the policy as proposed could run the risk of burdening PMA applicants by delaying response time, as each FAA office took the opportunity to review the project.  MARPA also noted the risk that differences of opinion between offices could be hashed out using an individual PMA application as the mechanism.  This could also result in undue burden to the applicant.  Finally, MARPA noted that inquiries by FAA offices about certain PMA projects could inadvertently alert TC holders of possible competition in a particular part market, and give that TC holder the opportunity to lock up the market before the PMA package is ever approved; a clear unfair competitive advantage.

Finally, MARPA noted that a certain provision uniquely included in PS-ANE-33.3-05 (the engine-PMA Policy Statement) was needlessly critical of PMAs and potentially harmful to the PMA industry. The sentence in question reads “[f]ailure of some of these engine PMA parts has resulted in unsafe conditions and the issuance of airworthiness directives.”  MARPA explained that this sentence was inappropriate for two reasons.  First, it incorrectly implies that PMA parts are abnormally unsafe and that TC products do not have a history of resulting in ADs.  Second, the sentence in no way advances the purpose of the Policy Statement, which is to establish uniform standards for use of the CPN database.  For these reasons, MARPA recommended the deletion of the sentence.

MARPA will continue to work for its members to advise and cooperate with the FAA in crafting fair and effective policy.  Members comments on these issues are always welcome.

You can read MARPA’s comments in their entirety on the MARPA website under the Government Affairs tab at http://www.pmaparts.org/government/.

MARPA Joins U.S. Industry in Demanding Regulatory Transparency

Last month, MARPA joined with a broad coalition of U.S. industry associations and representatives who together signed on to a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of current legislative efforts to enact reform of the regulatory process.  The multi-industry letter emphasized the importance of creating a level playing field for citizens regulated by federal agencies, holding agencies accountable to the public, and improving the transparency of agency actions.

Transparency and participation between federal agencies and the citizens they regulate is an important part of the regulatory process.  Rulemaking processes that are opaque or secret can result in regulations that are not only unduly burdensome, but which also may ignore important advances in industry practices and techniques, due to an absence of industry participation and information.  Such regulations also undermine industry confidence in the regulatory agencies and can lead to unjust or unreasonable penalties as a result poorly drafted rules or rules that are unworkable in practice.

The legislation before the House of Representatives, H.R. 2804 Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT) Act, draws upon concepts described in a number of other bills.  Several key elements are included in the ALERRT Act:

  • Federal agencies will submit monthly or yearly reports describing planned or final rulemakings to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  OMB would then release information about those rulemakings, including cost and benefit, to the public.
  • The Administratve Procedure Act will be updated to provide greater transparency to the public during the rulemaking process.  This is particularly important in light of the recent increase in regulations creating million- or billion-dollar burdens on industry.
  • Bring more transparency to the “sue and settle” process under which outside advocacy groups often take control of an agencies agenda and regulatory priorities.
  • Expand the scope of required regulatory impact analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

By enacting the above mentioned reforms, Congress can help to create a level playing field for its citizens, better hold agencies accountable to the public, and improve the transparency of agency actions.  Improved access and confidence in the regulatory process should result in fewer unduly burdensome or unworkable regulations and encourage increased stakeholder participation in the rulemaking process.

Proposed Rotor Blade and Leading Edge Freight Reclassification

In mid-December the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment to the National Motor Freight Classification.  Specifically, the proposed amendment seeks to make certain reclassifications relating to helicopter rotor blades and leading edge coverings, and make clarifications regarding aircraft propeller blades.  Those companies that manufacture and ship rotorcraft blades and leading edge coverings may wish to review the proposed amendment to determine the potential cost effects of the proposed reclassifications.

The National Motor Freight Classification is a voluntary standard that assigns classes based on a product’s transportation characteristics, and provides a comparison of those products when they are shipped via motor carrier.  The transportation characteristics of a product are determined based on its dimensions, density, ease of handling, and potential liability due to damage or other factors.  Products once classified are assigned a class name (e.g., Class 50; Class 100; Class 300) with higher class names generally having a greater cost to ship.

The provisions pertaining to leading edge coverings and rotor blades were initially developed in the 1950s.  Leading edges were assigned item number 12110 and rotor blades 12130, and freight classes 70 and 100, respectively.  In the intervening years, technological advances in manufacturing and materials have resulted in leading edges and blades becoming longer and less dense.  The effect of these advances is that the original freight classes assigned to the item numbers no longer accurately reflect the shipping characteristics of leading edges and blades of increasing length.

The proposed amendment suggests that as edges and blades grow longer and less dense, the costs of handling, practicalities of stowing, and potential liability due to damage increases, and therefore items of increasing length should be assigned differing freight classes to reflect the varying transportation characteristics.  The amendment therefore makes two proposals:  First, it would cancel item number 12110 pertaining to leading edges and redefine item 12130 to include both rotor blades and leading edges.  This is due to the understanding that leading edges and rotor blades have similar transport characteristics.

Second, the amendment would assign different freight classes to blades of increased lengths as follows:

Greatest Dimension Proposed Class
Exceeding 288 inches 300
Exceeding 192 inches but not exceeding 288 inches 175
Exceeding 96 inches but not exceeding 192 inches 100
Not exceeding 96 inches 92.5

These proposed classes greatly exceed the current freight classes assigned to leading edges and blades, and as such have the potential to substantially increase transportation costs.  It should also be noted that the proposed classes exceed the class suggested by CCSB’s own density guidelines.

A final element of the proposal would also specifically exclude rotor blades and edges from category 12280 pertaining to aircraft propeller blades to avoid confusion or ambiguity.

Persons with information regarding the transportation characteristics of rotor blades and leading edge coverings are invited to submit a written statement to CCSB prior to their meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.  Information regarding this proposal may be found at CCSB Docket 2014-1.  Manufacturers should take the opportunity to review the docket and data therein to determine what potential effects such reclassifications would have on their shipping and transportation costs, as well as to determine if the proposed classes are reasonable based on the transport characteristics of the articles.

MARPA Comments on FAA PMA Policy Guidance Revisions

Last week MARPA filed comments with the FAA in response to two policy documents that directly affect PMA manufacturers.  As we previously explained on this blog, both of these documents speak directly to the PMA approval process.

Draft revision D to FAA Order 8110.42 Parts Manufacturer Approval Procedures.  Two notable changes made in the revision was the removal of guidance to PMA applicants (released as a stand-alone document as draft AC 21.303-PMA) and the inclusion of a section directing ACOs to apply the FAA Risk Based Resource Targeting (RBRT) tool.  It also made certain technical changes to the Order to update citations and keep up with rule changes.

MARPA observed that the inclusion of RBRT in the Order creates the risk of unequal treatment across—or even within—different offices.  This is because the RBRT tool attempts to create the appearance of objectivity by assigning numerical values to what are essentially subjective evaluations by FAA personnel.  Because the tool offers no metric, rubric, or guidance to aid FAA personnel in assigning values, it is possible for even identical projects to be assigned different risk values based on the subjective assessments of personnel.  The ultimate result is that highly similar projects could be allocated markedly different resources.

Draft Advisory Circular 21.303-PMA updates the FAA guidance to applicants for PMA of articles submitted on the basis of test and computation or identicality without a license agreement.  This guidance is for the most part a recast of the guidance that formerly appeared in Order 8110.42C.  MARPA offered suggestions for improving the guidance related to sample sizes required for test and computation analysis, as well as general comments seeking to clarify the guidance.

In both documents, MARPA commented that the FAA should include a section describing use of the Streamlined PMA application process.

We plan to meet with representatives from the FAA in person to further discuss these comments.  FAA personnel will also be at the MARPA Conference in Las Vegas, October 23-25, and available to discuss PMA guidance and other initiatives.  MARPA will continue to work with the FAA to ensure that the guidance enhances safety while limiting burden to our members and the industry.

You can review MARPA’s comments on draft Order 8110.42D and draft AC 21.303-PMA in their entirety on our website at www.pmaparts.org.

Planning on Having Your Company Literature Featured in MARPA’s Booth in Tokyo? Here’s How:

We previously wrote in this space that MARPA will be attending the  2013 Aerospace Industry Exhibition Tokyo (ASET). As a benefit to our members, MARPA plans to feature member-company literature in our booth to allow you to make connections with the Japanese aerospace manufacturing market.  This is just one of the benefits of MARPA membership.  ASET offers an excellent opportunity get in front of a substantial segment of the Japanese aerospace manufacturing community; at the last conference over 23,000 people attended!

In order to help us feature member companies in the MARPA booth, members must ship their literature to us in Tokyo.  To ensure we are able to showcase your literature, you must follow these steps:

1.  Act quickly!  ASET runs October 2-4.  You should plan to have your literature arrive absolutely no later than Monday, September 23.  This will allow adequate time to ensure your package clears customs.

2.  Ship your package to:

MARPA (Booth No. G-01)
c/o AEROSPACE INDUSTRY EXHIBITION TOKYO 2013
2013 Management office
Tokyo Big Site
3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan
 

3.  Email Katt Brigham at MARPA with your package tracking information.  This should include the date the package was shipped and the estimated date of arrival.  You should also include the contents of your package so we know what to look for.

4.  Confirm your package arrives in Tokyo.  When you have confirmed arrival email Katt to let us know as well.

Remember it will take about a week for your shipment to clear customs upon arrival in Japan.  It is therefore vital that you ship your literature in time to ensure arrival by September 23.

MARPA is excited to be able to offer this opportunity to its members.  If you have any questions about shipping, please contact Katt at (202) 628-6777 or by email at katt@marpa.aero.

Help MARPA Understand Your Costs of Regulatory Compliance

MARPA continues to work diligently in support of the FAA’s Part 21 ARC.  One of the ARC working groups is focused specifically on performing a cost benefit analysis of the ARCs proposals.  We previously posted on the blog a request for our members’ input on what data we should be tracking in order to best estimate costs.  Although we have received a handful of responses to date, we still need your feedback to ensure we have an accurate cost assessment as possible!

Our members have reported the following measurable data points

  • Time for FAA review and approval of applications
  • Time of DER review
  • Data package development costs
  • ODA costs
  • Personnel costs to supplement decreased FAA involvement

The data your company is able to measure may be similar, or may be different.  In either case, we want to hear from you to provide a useful and usable data survey.  Remember, at this time we are NOT collecting actual numbers, but merely attempting to determine what data we can reasonably expect to collect in the future to help with our cost benefit analysis.  Future data will be collect anonymously to protect our members’ competitive interests while also guarding against costly regulation.

This information will help us to develop metrics for measuring industry costs of regulatory compliance.  We will then have a baseline to which we will compare the costs and benefits of the ARC’s proposals.  This is industry’s opportunity to provide detailed feedback regarding the costs of FAA regulations.  The FAA will be joining us at the MARPA Conference in October, so it is important that we have investigated and reviewed this data prior to that time.

If you have not yet taken the opportunity to respond with what sort of cost data your company tracks, please take a few minutes and let us know.  This will go a long way to helping us ensure the Part 21 ARC develops sound and cost effective proposals to deliver to the FAA. Email responses to MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviaition.com.

MARPA to Present at Aerospace Industry Exhibition Tokyo

MARPA is pleased to announce that we have been invited to exhibit and present at the 2013 Aerospace Industry Exhibition Tokyo.  MARPA will have an exhibitor booth for the three day event, October 2-4, 2013, and MARPA President Jason Dickstein will give a keynote address discussing all things PMA.  This is an excellent opportunity to further raise industry awareness about the value and benefits of PMA and about MARPA itself.

The Aerospace Industry Exhibition Tokyo (ASET) is the only exhibition held in Tokyo dedicated to specialized aerospace technologies.  In addition to the unique business opportunity, ASET also features programs and lectures from key industry figures, as well as business and social networking events.

ASET is very excited to continue to develop its PMA sessions and exhibitors.  The Exhibition has asked for our help in getting the word out about this opportunity, as ASET seeks PMA companies to join their PMA session.  The PMA companies would be asked to introduce their business to the attendees and participate in a PMA panel.  As inducement for participation, ASET is offering to provide exhibition booth space (three-day exhibition required) and potentially other inducements to PMA companies who are willing to present at the exhibition.

The city of Tokyo’s event planning subsidiary specifically requested the presence of PMA manufacturers at ASET 2013.  This is a great opportunity for our members to exhibit their products in front of a large audience in one of Asia’s key business hubs.  It is also a chance to further educate the aerospace community on the advantages of PMA.

If your company is interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, please contact ASET advisor Jay Kato via email at  jktechci@jcom.home.ne.jp.  ASET 2013 runs October 2-4, so it is important to act quickly.  MARPA hopes to see you there.

MARPA Offers Comments on FAA Sequencing Program

On July 2, MARPA filed comments with the FAA in response to the draft Standard Operating Procedure Aircraft Certification Service Project Prioritization and Resource Management.  The SOP, commonly referred to as “sequencing,” is intended to assist the FAA in prioritizing certification projects submitted for FAA approval in order to get the most out of its limited resources.  The goal of sequencing is to give priority to those projects that should have the most significant and immediate effect on safety.

Unfortunately, the policy as written misses out on clearly offering additional safety benefits, and disproportionately favors large businesses over small businesses, while offering no sound policy or safety rationale for this favoritism.

MARPA’s comments identified a number of problems with the policy.  The factors and criteria established by the FAA and used to determine a ranking for the purposes of prioritization appear in many ways to be arbitrarily established, with no identified methodology or basis for the calculation of the assigned values.  Additionally, the determination of the safety impact of a given project (a significant factor in calculating priority) appears to be left to the subjective evaluation of individual FAA offices or even individual employees.  Such subjectivity creates the possibility that identical projects may be assigned a higher or lower priority based on the opinion of an individual employee.

Even when evenhandedly applied, the policy may negatively affect the ability of small businesses to compete with large companies and OEMs, based not upon the safety benefits of their projects, but almost entirely upon the resources available to the companies.

MARPA understands and appreciates the FAA’s efforts to optimize the use of their resources to provide the greatest possible safety benefit to the industry and the flying public.  MARPA consistently works with the FAA to optimize its resources and enhance safety, through initiatives such as the Streamlined PMA Process, and participation on rulemaking committees.  MARPA looks forward to continuing to work with the FAA to better improve aviation safety and resource commitment.

MARPA Updates FAA on Streamlined PMA

As regular readers of this blog undoubtedly know, two of MARPA’s many accomplishments over the last year were the development of the MARPA 1100 Standard and successfully assisting the FAA in its issuance of Order 8110.119: Streamlined Process for Parts Manufacturer Approval.  Last week, MARPA sat down with FAA staff to update them on the progress of the program and discuss feedback–both positive and negative–that we have received from our members regarding the implementation of this new program.

The MARPA 1100 Standard is a recommended format for demonstrating that a PMA part is appropriate for the streamlined approval process.  The goal of that process–outlined in Order 8110.119–is to allow approval of non-safety significant (NSS) PMA parts within 30 days of application by companies with safety records that demonstrate that the FAA may reasonably rely on their systems to ensure quality.

The experiences reported by members has varied.  Some members have reported great success with the streamlined process.  A solid relationship with their ACO proved to be of great benefit in drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and initiating the streamlined process.  Continuous communication was also very important.

Each ACO is given a certain amount of discretion in the implementation of the streamlined process.  It is therefore important to work cooperatively and patiently with your ACO in developing an MOU that works for both of you and in commencing the streamlined process.

Some larger members originally reported that they would continue to rely on their ODA processes rather than taking advantage of the streamlined process.  However, as the benefits of the streamlined process became apparent, those members decided that they too would take advantage of the rapid turnaround for NSS PMAs.

Other members have reported that their ACOs have been resistant to implementing the streamlined process.  The FAA suggested a couple of reasons for this resistance.  One reason is that the purpose of the streamlined process is to more efficiently allocate resources.  If the applicant cannot demonstrate that establishment of an MOU and initiation of the streamlined process is going to result in resource savings, the ACO may be hesitant to travel down the streamlined path.  Another reason the ACO may hesitate to implement the process is that it may already have a turnaround time for PMA applications that is very near to the 30-day goal established by the streamlined process.  If there is no time or resource benefit to be realized, the ACO may view the process with skepticism.

It will be important in such cases for those companies seeking to implement the streamlined process to demonstrate to their ACO that use of the process will result in measurable time (and corresponding cost) savings.  Cooperation and a strong relationship with the ACO will help the applicant in moving the MOU and streamlined process forward.

One of the most frequent comments to both MARPA and the FAA has been that the MOU process is confusing or difficult to start from scratch.  Therefore, to better assist our members, MARPA plans to draft and make available guidance to assist businesses in developing their own MOUs.

The Streamlined Process for PMA is still in its infancy, and there will inevitably be growing pains.  MARPA wants to hear about all your experiences, both positive and negative, so that we can continue to refine the MARPA 1100 Standard, develop guidance to address challenges, and work with the FAA to present the PMA industry’s perspectives on the program.  If you have taken advantage of the streamlined process, if you have hit sticking points with your ACO, or if you have for any reason struggled to initiate the process, email your experiences to MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com.  MARPA will work diligently to address challenges in the streamlined process to ensure that the PMA community is best able to take advantage of this growing initiative.

FAA Releases PMA Policy Revisions for Comment

On July 1 the FAA released for comment drafts of revisions to two policy documents of great importance to PMA manufacturers.  Both documents speak directly to the PMA approval process.

The first is revision D to FAA Order 8110.42 Parts Manufacturer Approval Procedures.  Among other changes, the revision updates the regulatory citations from the latest Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), part 21 rule changes, introduces risk based resource targeting (RBRT) with management options, incorporates directive feedback and clarifies certification office responsibilities under the FAA’s quality management system.

This order describes the internal responsibilities and procedures for approving replacement and modification articles for installation on type-certificated products. The order addresses only the requirements for issuing a PMA; FAA Order 8120.22, Production Approval Procedures, contains the procedures addressing the production activities of manufacturers who produce articles under PMA.

The proposed revision also removes applicant guidance from Order 8110.42D.  The applicant guidance removed from the draft of revision D has been relocated to the other draft document released on July 1: FAA AC 21.303-PMA.

AC 21.303-PMA updates the FAA guidance to applicants for PMA of articles submitted on the basis of test and computation or identicality without a license agreement.  The AC also provides an application and compliance checklist, adds a certifying statement of compliance, provides guidance for assessing an article’s impact on safety and describes how the FAA approves replacement parts for TSO articles.  The AC describes one way, but not the only way, to comply with subpart K of Part 21 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

Comments on both of these drafts are due September 1, 2013.  Comments on Draft Order 8110.42D should be sent to robert.sprayberry@faa.gov.  Comments on Draft AC 21.303-PMA should be sent to john.milewski@faa.gov.  Whether you file formal comments or not, please share your thoughts and concerns with MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com.  MARPA will make every effort to address our members’ concerns in our comments to the FAA.

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