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Continued Operational Safety

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Revised MARPA COS Guidance is Now Available for Comment

One of the many ways MARPA supports the PMA industry is through the issuance of its Continued Operational Safety (COS) system guidance material.  In order to continue to improve safety and address industry and regulatory concerns, MARPA regularly revises its COS guidance and makes the revised guidance available to the public.

MARPA recently issued Revision 3 to MARPA’s Guidance Material for a PMA Continued Operational Safety (COS) System for review and comment.  The COS guidance is available on the MARPA website under the Government Affairs Continued Operational Safety menu, or by clicking the direct link in this post.

As with any guidance material it is important that we receive comments and feedback from our members to ensure that the revisions to the COS guidance are workable and make sense.  We are therefore asking our members and the PMA industry to review the revised COS guidance and provide us with feedback.

Comments are due to MARPA by September 19, 2014.  You can submit comments to MARPA by emailing them to Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com.  We look forward to your feedback.

FAA to Update the Engine Endurance Testing Rule

This could be your chance to affect the rewrite of an important engine certification rule!  The FAA has asked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to look into engine endurance testing pursuant to 14 C.F.R. 33.87.

An engine endurance test is an accelerated severity test intended to demonstrate a minimum level of engine operability and durability within the approved engine ratings and operating limitations. The test running conditions cover the declared engine rating and operating limitations, but are not intended to precisely simulate the expected in-service operation.

The FAA has found that applicants need to modify their engines in order to meet the testing requirements of section 33.87, but that these modified engines are no longer accurate representations of the type design.  Thus, there is a worry that modern engine technology has progressed to the point where section 33.87 no longer meets its intended function.

Dorina Mihail of the FAA Engine and Propeller Directorate is looking for engine technical experts to serve on the working group examining this rule.  The FAA must receive all requests by February 11, 2014, so if you are interested in having MARPA promote your application to the working group. then please contact us before then.

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.

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.

What Does it Cost YOU to Meet FAA Requirements?

As many of you know, MARPA is working on the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC)  that is rewriting the manufacturing rules to address Safety Management and Design Organization elements.  One of the things that the FAA wants to track is the cost-benefit data, to ensure that the project will reflect a positive benefit for the industry (as well as for the FAA).

To this end, we are seeking data about what we should track to estimate costs.  We would appreciate answers to the following questions (note that we are seeking information about categories of costs, and not yet seeking numbers for costs):

  • What costs do you track internally that we could use as a baseline for certification or design costs?
  • What costs go into the certification/approval process?
  • What costs go into Continued Operational Safety?
  • Do you track how much it costs to bring a new article to market?
  • Do you track how much it costs to do the certification/approval piece of bringing a new article to market?
  • Could you estimate a cost per day associated with the certification/approval process (e.g. if we could speed up the process of getting a PMA, could we calculate a benefit based on the time that was saved)?

At this time, WE ARE NOT COLLECTING ANY NUMBERS!!  We are trying to identify what are the right questions to ask.  This information will be used to develop a certification cost survey for the membership, and THEN we will be in a position to ask for numbers.  When we ask for numbers, we will do it in such a way that individual company data will be protected.

[so you should be planning on eventually getting us hard numbers in these general areas]

Please get us your answers ASAP. We will plan on asking for this sort of data again in the August MARPA Supplement but it would be useful to get the initial data by the end of July.

The FAA has asked to use our Conference as an opportunity to collect industry data, so we will be developing data models during the summer in order to support those efforts.  We are hoping to develop metrics for measuring our industry’s costs between now and then, so that by the time of the MARPA Conference in October, we will have a robust model upon which to rely.

Supply Chain Management Handbook

Are you using the Supply Chain Management Handbook (SCMH) as a tool to support your supplier control mechanisms?

All PMA manufacturers have an obligation to control their suppliers in accordance with 14 C.F.R. 21.137. The FAA-approved quality manual will have a mechanism for accomplishing this but how do you improve your processes?

The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) is made up aerospace manufacturing quality professionals from around the world. IAQG has published the SCMH in order to share best practices for accomplishing supplier control. For issues affecting supplier qualification, supplier managing and tracking of supplier metrics, the SCMH is an excellent source of ideas and guidance.

The SCMH is a living document that is constantly being updated with new guidance. In fact, I currently serve on a working group developing new guidance on how to recognize counterfeit parts.

Need more help? IAQG is planning on holding a series of webinars to introduce and educate on specific chapters of the SCMH. They will start this summer but have not yet been scheduled. When they are scheduled, we will let you know the details!

Updated Agenda for Int’l Safety Conference

Today, EASA issued an updated agenda for the 2013 EASA / FAA International Aviation Safety Conference.  The Conference is the annual meeting among EASA, FAA, TCCA and other regulators to discuss new paradigms in regulatory oversight.  This meeting directly impacts the aviation industry, which is the subject of this regulatory oversight!

The updated agenda provides better guidance on what to expect from the 2013 meeting.

Sessions that will be interesting to member of the PMA manufacturing community will include:

  • New Technology: A Challenge for Regulators
  • Safety Management and Global Harmonisation
  • Safety Continuum: Regional flexibility vs Global Harmonization?
  • Performance Based Oversight
  • Rulemaking Cooperation: towards a Regulatory Framework Based on Safety Oversight Data
  • The New Normal: Strategies for Safety Success in Fiscally Challenging Times
  • Compliance Assurance
  • Global Production: The New Reality

MARPA will be there and will be reporting on the new directions proposed by the regulators.

Help Shape the Future of Part 21!

We have written recently on this blog about the important SMS/Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) and corresponding Working Groups in which representatives of MARPA are now participating.  The result of this ARC promises to affect each and every manufacturer of PMA in some way or another.  MARPA will therefore be there every step of the way, working to ensure that the interests of PMA community are protected.  But in order to ensure that we guard our members’ interests, we will need your assistance and feedback!  We are therefore asking MARPA members to tracks and share with us the cost of regulatory compliance.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to attempt to fit the burdens of a proposed regulation to the scale of businesses.  This recognizes the fact that the same regulatory burden that may simply be the cost of doing business to a large multinational corporation may be crippling to a small company.  Recognizing the extreme importance of scalability in the promulgation of the new Part 21, one of the four Working Groups is dedicated solely to undertaking a Cost-Benefit Analysis of the proposed regulatory changes.

This is where MARPA member feedback will be of extreme importance.  The Cost-Benefit Analysis Working Group needs data to better understand what the current cost of compliance to small business actually is.  This will function as a baseline from which to determine the benefits and costs of the proposals generated by the other three Working Groups.  As the Working Groups craft the new regulations they will turn to industry to obtain data demonstrating the effects of the proposed changes.

It is vital that MARPA members participate in providing data to the Working Groups as the new proposals are developed and those assumptions tested against hard data.  Hidden costs of compliance with regulations, under-estimations of costs, and over-estimations of benefits have the potential to result in an overly burdensome regulation.  The participation of MARPA members in providing data to the ARC Working Groups will go a long way toward shaping an effective regulation while minimizing the burden on small businesses.

Input from members helps MARPA to more effectively advocate for policy changes that benefit the PMA community.  Responses to requests for information such as this—or for data regarding the Streamlined PMA Process—helps MARPA to focus its resources to optimize benefit to the membership.

MARPA looks forward to the participation of its members in shaping the future of Part 21.  Although the Working Groups have not yet begun to approach industry with requests for data, MARPA would like to get started early.  If your company tracks the cost of regulatory compliance, whether in dollars, personnel, man-hours, paperwork, or any other metric, we want to hear from you.  Your confidentiality is important to us, so MARPA will only report data in the aggregate; no individual data will be released and no company names will be revealed.  You can send this data to MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com.  Please also send Ryan an email if you have any questions or would like to start tracking compliance costs.

FAA Guidance on Major Repair/Alteration Data: Open for Comment

The FAA has released draft guidance on major repair and alteration data approval, and is seeking public comment.

The guidance is meant for FAA employees/designees and is intended to provide them with assistance in the data approval process. Nonetheless, this is very important guidance for the private sector because it will likely have the effect of limiting major repair and alteration data approval only to the scope of this particular guidance.

It is important for repair stations and air carriers to review this data to ensure that it accurately describes the categories of data that must be approved, and that it provides a reasonable mechanism for approval of that data.  It is equally important for PMA manufacturers to review the data, because it may affect their Instructions for Continued Airworthiness, as well as approval of repair and alteration data that is developed to respond to continued operational safety (COS) issues.

The draft guidance can be found online here: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/media/8300.X.pdf.

Comments are due to the FAA by June 12, 2013 and should be emailed to major.ra.order@faa.gov.

Please send copies of your comments to MARPA so that we can be sure that our comments reflect your concerns.

MARPA Works on the Future of FAA Certification

The SMS/Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) opened a three day meeting this morning in Rosslyn, Virginia.  The meeting expands the scope of the ARC to include four working groups that will develop the new rules for certification and approval of aviation products and articles.  MARPA staff attended the live meeting and MARPA members participated by dial-in teleconference.  This project will definitely affect every MARPA member and could be the most important rulemaking activity affecting the PMA community in over 60 years!

Dorenda Baker is the Director of the FAA Aircraft Certification Service.  Ultimately, the ARC reports to her.  Baker explained that the FAA is committed to taking the ARC’s recommendations and moving forward with those recommendations to craft a rule that meets our ICAO SARP obligations (SMS or Safety Management Systems).  She stressed that we need to take into consideration how this rule will apply to both large and small companies.  It needs to achieve safety goals for everyone.

Some of the points that Baker raised included these:

  • The FAA is committed to this project and has assigned significant staff resources to support the effort.  The FAA recognizes that this is more than a matter of complying with ICAO requirements: it represents the future of aircraft certification.
  • With sequestration and impending sequestration –related furloughs, it is even more important to streamline certification, and to have clear safety accountability for manufacturers.
  • In the area of the 787, the NTSB will be holding hearings and it is clear from the media coverage of the 787 concerns that the general public does not understand what FAA and industry do to ensure safety.  This tells us that outreach will be very important in order to educate people about how the new system (that the ARC recommends) will effectively support safety.
  • FAA is working on its five-year plan, and one of their initiatives is the single surveillance system (working with our partners to ensure global safety).  This project should support that effort by harmonizing to the ICAO SMS obligations.

MARPA has been centrally involved in drafting the working group charters in order to ensure that the ARC recommendations will support the next generation of safety management.  Baker’s commitment to protecting the interest of both small companies and large companies is encouraging; but the details will be important to the PMA community and there is plenty of opportunity to see a rule that does not work well.  With this in mind, this could be one of the most important projects that MARPA has ever worked-on for the future of the PMA community.  MARPA will remain at the heart of this process in order to ensure that the interests of the PMA community are protected.

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