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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/.

New Requirements for PMA Holders include Enhanced Supplier Requirements

The FAA is proposing changes to the Part 21 manufacturing rules.  A number of these will impact PMA holders.  It will be important for the PMA community to provide comments to this NPRM.

The proposed changes include:

  • Require each production approval holder to identify an accountable manager who would be responsible for, and have authority over, their production operations and serve as the primary contact with the FAA;
  • Require each production approval holder to provide the FAA with a document describing how its organization will ensure compliance;
  • Permit each production approval holder to issue authorized release documents (8130-3 tags) for aircraft engines, propellers, and articles;
  • Permit production certificate holders to manufacture and install interface components;
  • Require production approval holders to ensure that each supplier-provided product, article, or service conforms to the production approval holder’s requirements;
  • Establish a supplier-reporting process for products, articles, or services that have been released from or provided by the supplier and subsequently found not to conform to the production approval holder’s requirements; and
  • Remove the requirement that fixed-pitch wooden propellers be marked using an approved fireproof method.

With respect to the new permission for PMA holders to issue 8130-3 tags, the FAA confirms that the intent is to permit manufacturers to issue the 8130-3 tags, although the NPRM appears to be missing an explicit authority to issue such a release.  Instead, the NPRM as drafted requires a procedure for managing the 8130-3 tags process; but subpart L continues to require application to the FAA for issue of an 8130-3 tag.  This is something that will need to be changed if the FAA is to successfully implement this provision.

If the proposal becomes a regulation, the rules would include a requirement for supplier control and a parallel requirement for ensuring conformity of supplier products.  This appears to suggest that supplier control must be supplemented with 100% conformity verification of incoming supply; but more importantly it would also mean that non-conforming supplier-provided-parts would represent a regulatory violation even when they are caught in the PMA holder’s incoming inspection!  This seems to be inappropriate.

The proposed rule is scheduled to be issued in tomorrow’s Federal Register.  An advance copy is available online today at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-04330.pdf.

New Helicopter Rule Could Reflect New/Expanded Business Opportunity for Component Manufacturers

We expect the FAA to publish for new proposed helicopter operations regulations tomorrow (Friday).  The proposed rules could reflect new opportunities for PMA manufacturers.

The proposed rules would require all helicopter air ambulance flights with medical personnel on board to be conducted under part 135 (proposed §§ 135.1, 135.601), thus increasing the population of Part 135 helicopter operations.  The proposed rules would also require some new equipment rotorcraft operated under Part 135 (including those that have just been redefined as 135 operations by the new rule).

The new equipage rules under Part 135 would include:

  • Each Helicopter will be required to be equipped with a radio altimeter (proposed § 135.160);
  • Helicopter operations conducted over water will be required to carry additional safety equipment to assist passengers and crew in the event an accident occurs over water (proposed § 135.168);
  • Helicopter air ambulances must be equipped with helicopter terrain awareness warning systems (HTAWS) (proposed § 135.605);
  • Helicopter air ambulances must be equipped with a flight data monitoring system (proposed § 135.607).

These are operational rule requirements, so they do not apply to rotorcraft operated solely under Part 91 operations rules.

MARPA members who see problems or opportunities with the proposed rule (or who perceive areas where the FAA deserves appreciation for its efforts) should let MARPA know, so that the Association can file comments with the FAA that are consistent with the industry’s needs and desires.

In addition the proposed rule would impose new operational requirements for rotorcraft operated under Part 135, such as:

  • Requiring pilot testing of rotorcraft handling in flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstration of competency in recovery from an inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC);
  • Air ambulance operators with 10 or more helicopters will be required to establish operations control centers (OCC) (proposed § 135.619) and will be required to drug-and-alcohol test their operations control specialists;
  • Helicopter air ambulance operators will be required to establish operations manual procedures for conducting FAA-approved preflight risk analyses (proposed § 135.617);
  • Helicopter air ambulance pilots will be required to identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route (proposed § 135.615);
  • Helicopter air ambulance operators will be required to provide safety briefings or training for helicopter air ambulance medical personnel (proposed § 135.621);
  • Helicopter air ambulance pilots will be required to hold instrument ratings (proposed § 135.603).

MARPA members who support the rotorcraft industry (especially the air ambulance community) may want to let their customers know about this significant rule change, as their customers may wish to comment on the open rulemaking proposal.

New FAA Policy on Coordination of Engine and Propeller PMAs

The FAA has issued two new PMA guidance documents for comment.  One of these is a document affecting engine PMA applications (PS-ANE-33.3-05) and the other is a document affecting propeller PMA applications (PS-ANE-35.15-02).  Each of them would require additional internal FAA coordination for certain engine and propeller PMA projects.

Under the new policy, when an Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) accepts an application for a PMA for an engine part or a propeller part, where a failure of that part could result in the total loss of thrust or power, the ACO is required to coordinate the project with the office that manages the type certificate and the Engine and Propeller Directorate.  Coordination is accomplished by entering the project into the national certification project notification (CPN) database.

While better management of coordination should be a good thing, the reason for such coordination is to obtain more input from the other offices.  There are two possible concerns associated with that additional input that should be addressed but that are not raised in this guidance: (1) decreased FAA efficiency in turning projects, and (2) increased potential for release of sensitive business data.

The guidance asserts that the CPN process should not add burden to the PMA applicant.  This does not consider, however, whether the process may add additional lag time in processing the PMA applications. If the certificate management office and the Directorate request additional time to study the project and add their comments, then this could slow down the turn-around-time for reviewing packages.  We have been made aware of instances where local offices disagreed with a directorate about a technical matter, and the PMA applicant was the real victim, as the two FAA offices brought the application to a stand-still while they hashed out their differences.

In addition, PMA applications are often considered to reflect sensitive company data, because they reveal the company’s business plan.  If a certificate management office starts asking questions about a part, even without revealing which company has filed the PMA application, it could still alert a type certificate holder to the potential for competition and the type certificate holder may take action to protect their market in that part before the PMA part is approved (which would be unfair).

But one positive aspect of such coordination is that the certificate management office or the Directorate may have useful information not readily available elsewhere.  For example, they may have service information that helps to show where the original type certificated part was not performing as expected.  This information could give the PMA applicant an opportunity to improve the part so that it meets customer expectations.

The FAA has opened these two policies up for comment through March.  MARPA members who want MARPA to comment on either of these draft policies should let us know by the end of February.

Parts Approval in Europe Becomes a Reality

For years, PMA parts were a uniquely American product. But recent European events may suggest that others will be following our lead. BAE has been focused on obtaining design approval and production approval to create approved independent replacement parts under the European system.

On January 22, Graham Smith and Phil Beard explained how BAE has been obtaining replacement parts approval user EASA standards. They explained that BAE has been able to get European approvals that are very similar to US PMA approvals.

As with FAA PMA, they start with a significant review of a part in order to determine whether it is feasible to reverse engineer and produce the part. They perform a full reverse engineering operation. They develop their own engineering drawings. Like most modern PMA companies, they take special pains to avoid using OEM data to support their analysis in order to make sure tat they are avoiding misuse of someone else’s intellectual property.

Beard feels that the substantiation of these engineering documents is a little different from the U.S. process. He explained that EASA does not allow BAE to use identicality. Instead they must use positive substantiation of compliance with the airworthiness standards. He said that this generally comes from analysis, understanding of the part’s function, and testing.

As with test and computation PMAs in the US, the substantiation process that BAE uses permits them to fully understand the part, which in turn permits them to remedy reliability problems with the original design or make other improvements desired by the customer. Beard offered an example during his discussion; he commented that if service history has shown evidence of unexpected corrosion, then BAE might change the coating in order to better protect against corrosion.

BAE has made good use of its Design Organisation Approval (DOA) system, which allows BAE to operate under a government-controlled system in order to make findings of compliance up which the government can rely (similar to the ODA system in the United States). Smith and Beard affirmed that this system has been invaluable to their parts approval efforts.

BAE’s initial efforts appear to be largely focused on parts for Regional Jet Aircraft; but they are approved and willing to undertake work on all fixed-wing aircraft types.  This an exciting development for international trade in civil aircraft parts.

MARPA Seeks Your Input as We Work to Improve the Manufacturing Reporting Requirements

The PMA industry has an opportunity to affect the FAA reporting rules for manufacturers!

Design approval holders are required to report certain occurrences to the FAA under 14 C.F.R. 21.3.  That rule requires reporting to the FAA of any failure, malfunction, or defect in any product or article that could lead to (or that results from) any occurrence on the FAA’s list of occurrences found in section 21.3(c).

The current rule was originally designed to provide the FAA with information that the FAA needs in order to be able to take appropriate mandatory safety actions, like issue Airworthiness Directives (see Reporting Requirements for Manufacturers; Failures, Malfunctions and Defects, 35 Fed. Reg. 3154 (February 18, 1969)).  But the rule has been accused of being both overbroad (it requires reporting of occurrences that would never be used by the FAA in relation to mandatory action) and under-inclusive (it also fails to require reporting of unlisted occurrences – and some unlisted occurrences could be safety issues about which the FAA ought to be receiving reports).

The FAA’s Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) will be proposing sweeping changes to the FAAAA’s manufacturing rules, including changes that implement design organizations (comparable to the European DOA Part 21 subpart J regulations) as well as changes that would more clearly implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) requirements for manufacturers.  Part of this process is expected to include changes to 14 C.F.R. 21.3 in order to correct some of the existing issues, better synchronize the data requirements with the new SMS obligations, and make the rule more responsive to the FAA’s evolving data needs.

The sub-team working on 21.3 kicked off their first meeting yesterday.  The group highlighted the belief that the current 21.3 too often requires reporting of occurrences with low associated risk, and this can mask the higher risk occurrences in a way that undermines safety.  They also discussed high risk occurrences that may not meet the 21.3 list criteria and therefore may not be reported to the FAA.  As a consequence, the group discussed two different options – one was changing the list and the other was removing the list entirely and replacing it with a reporting criterion that would more accurately influence reporting to the sort of reports that are most useful to the FAA in pursuing its safety mission.  The argument in favor of the latter option was that today’s aircraft design and safety management practices have evolved such that the 21.3 list of occurrences is no longer the most efficient way to describe reportable items.  

MARPA is an active part of this group.  If you have thoughts about 21.3, please share them with your trade association, so we can make sure your good ideas are considered!  This can include examples of how you have implemented reporting in your facility, examples showing when 21.3(c) is too broad or when it is too narrow, and thoughts about the best way to improve the reporting regulation.

FAA Proposes Modifications to Airworthiness Policy

The FAA has proposed a number of changes to FAA Order 8130.2 [Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products].

Here is the FAA’s explanation of the changes:

103. Explanation of Policy Changes.  This revision—
a. Clarifies the terms “original” and “recurrent,” as related to airworthiness certification or approvals.
b. Provides additional information about program letters included with the application for a special airworthiness certificate and former military aircraft.
c. Incorporates changes to chapter 4, section 10, Certification and Operation of Aircraft Under the Experimental Purpose(s) of Exhibition or Air Racing.
d. Incorporates numerous changes originating from input through the directive feedback system.
e. Incorporates changes to several sections related to the issuance of operating limitations.

Obviously, this FAA listing is not all-inclusive (since it specifies that it made “numerous changes” that are not individually characterized in the summary).  MARPA will review the FAA proposal and will follow-up with any particular issues that we see. In the mean time, please let us know whether you see any issues with the newly-proposed language.

The FAA has asked that comments on this draft be shared with the FAA by February 7, 2014.  Please share YOUR comments with MARPA by January 31 so we can make sure your concerns are reflected in the MARPA comments.

In Tokyo, MARPA Seeks Out New Suppliers and Customers for our Members

This week, MARPA is in Japan at the 2013 Aerospace Industry Exhibition Tokyo (ASET 2013).  MARPA has an exhibit booth featuring information about the PMA marketplace and about our membership.

MARPA is not alone!  Both Heico and Jet Parts Engineering sent staff to participate in the PMA panel during the conference.  The panel featured two hours of presentations about PMA and questions and answers about PMA. It was attended by over a hundred aerospace professionals interested in learning more abut PMA.

In addition, though, several of our members sent literature to the conference, and MARPA has been handing their information to interested conference attendees.  Those members were:

  • Measure Tech
  • Timken
  • K&S Enterprises
  • Hemico
  • Heico

So far, we’ve seen a lot of interest from Japanese manufacturing companies in partnering with PMA companies from the United States, so the literature from member companies has been very helpful in educating the Japanese marketplace about potential US partners.

Many Japanese companies seem able to bring novel production technologies and novel solutions to the table as potential partners/suppliers.  But that has not been the sole focus of this trip.  We also had an opportunity to spend time with representatives from both ANA and JAL during our trip.  Both air carriers remain keenly interested in the potential posed by PMA.

We were fortunate to be invited to deliver training sessions to both ANA Trading and ANA’s Materials Management Department.  Both organizations were very gracious hosts.  PMA was an important topic in each of those training sessions,  and there were lots of insightful questions.

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.

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