MARPA has added video to our website!
Now if you look at the “What is a PMA” page on the MARPA website, you will see that we have added a video presentation that explains what PMA parts are all about. This is our first video on our new Youtube page that will become the home to videos about PMA issues.
Please let us know if you have any ideas for video presentations that you’d like to see on MARPA’s Youtube account or on MARPA’s website!
Over the past few months, I have encountered a number of PMA exporters, and European PMA importers, who have asked for clear guidance on how to distinguish a “critical” PMA parts from a “non-critical” PMA part.
This is an important distinction because under the Bilateral Airworthiness Safety Agreement (BASA) that was signed between the United States and the European Union, there are three types of PMA parts that are accepted in the European Union (for installation on products certified or validated by EASA) without further showing. Those three “acceptable” situations, as described in the BASA Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) are:
(1) The PMA part is not a “critical component”; or
(2) The PMA part conforms to design data obtained under a licensing agreement from the TC or STC holder according to 14 CFR §21.303; or
(3) The PMA holder is the holder of an EASA STC which incorporates the PMA part.
Thus, non-critical PMA parts are directly acceptable (and they should have text on their export 8130-3 tag that states “This PMA part is not a critical component”). So there is a significant advantage to having a clear understanding of when a PMA part is critical and when it is not critical.
This can be a little confusing if you don’t know where to look. The FAA has used the term “criticality” to define different categories of parts for approval purposes, and to set differnt levels of FAA involvement in the approval process. The distinct use of the term means that we need to look in the right place for the definition of “critical” that applies to our export/import transactions.
For purposes of US exports of PMA parts that are imported into the European Union, the controlling guidance is found in the BASA’s Technical Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness And Environmental Certification (BASA TIP). The definition of critical component for purposes of that document is found in Section 1.6(i) of the BASA TIP:
“Critical Component” means a part identified as critical by the design approval holder during the product type validation process, or otherwise by the exporting authority. Typically, such components include parts for which a replacement time, inspection interval, or related procedure is specified in the Airworthiness Limitations section or certification maintenance requirements of the manufacturer’s maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.
Don’t fall for the temptation draw a semantic difference between a “critical component” and a “critical part.” The PMA acceptance procedures found in section 2.8.2(a)(1) of the BASA TIP explicitly cross reference the definition in section 1.6(i).
In light of this definition found in the BASA TIP, the question of whether a PMA part is “critical” will be based on the decision of the FAA (the exporting authority) about whether it was critical at the time of approval.
The regulatory guidance for critical parts is found in the marking requirements discussion in section 45.15(c) of the FAA’s regulations. That section makes it clear that an article is “critical” if it has a hard time specified in the Airworthiness Limitations section of the manual (instructions for continued airworthiness), like a life limit, then it is a critical part (or critical component).
Under normal circumstances, there are two methods for specifying such a limit on a PMA part. The first is during the FAA approval process (usually as an airworthiness limitation published in the instructions for continuous airworthiness), when the airworthiness limitation section associated with the part would be approved. The second is by an FAA airworthiness directive issued after initial approval in response to an identified safety issue.
Thus the best source for identifying whether a PMA article is “critical” is the PMA manufacturer, who should be able to tell customers whether there were any such hard times associated with the article as part of the approval process (or review of the PMA manufacturer’s instructions for continuous airworthiness). If the FAA did not establish that the part was critical at the time of approval, and if they did not subsequently issue an airworthiness limit (such as through an airworthiness directive), then the part is not critical.
In 2012, our blog featured 54 new posts (not including this one), growing the total archive of this blog to 232 posts. That is just above our target of one post per week.
The busiest day of the year was September 4th with 215 views. The most popular post that day was MARPA Issues Streamlined PMA Program; FAA Expected to Follow with Related Order.
These are the top five most-read posts for 2012:
- New FAA ICA Policy Restricts Licensing Practices that Undermine FAA Approvals and Regulations March 2012 (read by 553 people in 2012)
- Boeing’s Licensed PMA Parts April 2011 (read by 432 people in 2012; read by 418 people in 2011)
- FAA issues New Guidance for Drafting Service Bulletins January 2012 (read by 342 people in 2012)
- Defense Contractor WARN Act Obligations and Sequestration July 2012 (read by 328 people in 2012)
- New Tax Regulations Affect Aircraft Parts January 2012 (read by 327 people in 2012)
Note that one of our most popular posts (“Boeing’s Licensed PMA Parts”) was written in April 2011. This is obviously an issue that remains important to people!
Our readership is diverse. In 2012 we had visits from readers coming from 135 different countries.
One of our members recently expressed some concern about use of PMAs on assemblies subject to dual-use 8130-3 tags (those that are subject to both U.S. FAA and E.C. EASA regulations).
The member had been told that their company’s repair station could not legally use a PMA part in an assembly and then approve it for return to service with an 8130-3 tag signed under both U.S. and E.C. rules. This was not accurate.
The fact is that U.S. PMA parts can generally be used as replacement parts under EASA regulations (and thus they can be used on components that will be released with a dual release 8130-3 naming EASA as the other jurisdiction).
The member had been told that the “MAG” did not permit this. The “MAG” is the Maintenance Annex Guidance that was published to help understand the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the E.C. (it was published jointly by the FAA and EASA). The MAG states that “PMA parts may only be accepted as detailed in EASA Part-21 or in Annex 1 of the Agreement.”
So the question is, when do EASA Part-21 or Annex 1 of the Bilateral Agreement permit use of PMA parts.
Annex 1 of the Bilateral Agreement permits use of PMAs as defined under the Technical Implementation Procedures. The Technical Implementation Procedures permit PMA parts under the same terms that have become standard in Europe for the past decade. These are the terms that were memorialized in the 2007 PMA Directive, which does a good job of summarizing the PMA acceptance protocols in Europe that have been in place since the JAA.
In summary, if the PMA part is not a critical part, then it can be used under the EASA system. If the PMA part is a critical part that was made under licensing agreement with the TC holder, then it can be used under the EASA system. But if the PMA part is a critical part that was developed independently (design was not derived from TC license), then it needs a European design approval in the form of an STC in order to permit usage under the EASA system.
The current bilateral agreement with the E.C. also permits European acceptance of PMA. The terms are substantially similar to those of the older directive.
There are legal technicalities concerning the basis for acceptance (older PMAs are actually accepted under the terms of the prior agreements, because the Directive is contingent on the bilateral agreement that permits acceptance of PMA remaining in force and post-May-5-2011 PMAs are accepted under the new bilateral) but these are distinctions that only lawyers care about; the basic standards remain the same.
It is always possible that there are specific facts that cause someone to say that in this particular case you cannot use PMA parts because of a fact-specific issue (for example, the PMA parts might be critical parts that do not meet the requirements), but PMA parts are generally acceptable within the bounds established by existing policy.
Members who plan to be in Las Vegas for the MARPA Annual Conference, and who have questions about this, should feel free to catch me during the Conference to get answers.
The MARPA Conference has added new speakers and expanded the expected offerings.
We are excited to announce that the FAA will be at the Conference.
Many may have heard that the entire U.S. government has cut back on travel to conferences as a consequence of the GSA scandal. This has resulted in a significant amount of cancellations for federal employees across the entire government. We had feared that this might impact the FAA’s participation in MARPA. We are pleased to announce that it will not prevent the FAA from participating.
FAA participation in the MARPA conference is important to our members, to the Association, and to the FAA. FAA speakers announce new programs and new policies during the general session and use the questions to help ensure that guidance addresses industry concerns and answers industry questions. In the workshops FAA employees get an opportunity to work with members on compliance and safety issues, and we use the time at the conference to discuss pending and new programs designed to increase safety. FAA employees also meet with multiple PMA company representatives at the Conference about important matters, which cuts down on other trips. The FAA has always said that they appreciate this opportunity to advance safety issues with the industry.
The FAA is really putting its money where its mouth is, this year. In an environment of travel-cutting and intense scrutiny of the value of government travel, the FAA will once again send employees to support the MARPA Conference. We expect to welcome Dave Hempe (who manages all FAA Engineering policy), John Milewski (who manages FAA PMA Policy), and a representative from the FAA Engine and Propeller Directorate to join us this year, and we are making arrangements for other FAA employees to join us by teleconference. In addition, Fred Elliott from the Department of Commerce will be joining us to talk about opportunities for PMA-usage by non-US air carriers.
In order to make this happen, we spoke with FAA Associate Administrator Margaret (Peggy) Gilligan, FAA Aircraft Certification Director Dorenda Baker, FAA Aircraft Certification Deputy Director Frank Paskiewicz, and FAA Engineering Manager David Hempe. They all expressed their support for MARPA, and they “went to bat” for the PMA industry in order to secure permission for three FAA employees to travel to MARPA.
With the cutbacks in government travel to conferences, FAA attendance at industry conferences will become more rare and more difficult to get approved. Please make sure to do the following when you are in Las Vegas:
The MARPA Technical Committee will be meeting during the Conference on Wednesday, October 2 at 2:30 pm (on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel). This committee helps to review FAA documents that are open for public comment, and it also helps to develop MARPA standards that support safety compliance. If you are interested in becoming more active in the policy-making side of aviation, then please join us for this Committee meeting.
The updated MARPA Conference Agenda is available online.
The FAA has made a change to the rules concerning vibration testing (14 C.F.R. § 33.83). The change was published in the July 5th Federal Register on page 39623.
Under both rules, a vibration survey is necessary for engine certification, and also it is required for any part that is “subject to mechanically or aerodynamically induced vibratory excitations.” So any part that vibrates in an engine, has to be subject to a vibration survey as part of the process of developing data to support the PMA application. Examples of parts subject to vibration survey requirements are blades, vanes, rotor discs, spacers, and rotor shafts.
Under the old rule, the engine survey is based upon an appropriate combination of experience, analysis, and component test. A full engine test was not required. Many PMA companies confirm that they have been obtaining PMAs for parts like blades and vanes by using comparative analysis supported by component-level testing. This sort of approach is also supported by FAA Advisory Circular 33.83-1, which provides guidance on performing shaker tests for blades and vanes.
The new rule changes this standard by eliminating the option to perform component-level testing and replacing it with an obligation to perform full engine testing. The preamble to the rule clarifies that the FAA’s intent is for applicants to perform full engine testing (the preamble claims that this has always been FAA policy, but FAA-industry common practice belies this claim), and that this obligation should apply to PMA applicants and repair data approval applicants as well. For PMA parts, and for FAA-approved repair data, this requirement would effectively eliminate many of the smaller competitors because of the cost, but it does not appear to provide any additional safety benefit.
Here are the two rules, for comparison purposes:
§ 33.83 – Vibration test.
(a) Each engine must undergo vibration surveys to establish that the vibration characteristics of those components that may be subject to mechanically or aerodynamically induced vibratory excitations are acceptable throughout the declared flight envelope. The engine surveys shall be based upon an appropriate combination of experience, analysis, and component test and shall address, as a minimum, blades, vanes, rotor discs, spacers, and rotor shafts.
§ 33.83 Vibration test.
(a) Each engine must undergo vibration surveys to establish that the vibration characteristics of those components that may be subject to mechanically or aerodynamically induced vibratory excitations are acceptable throughout the declared flight envelope. Compliance with this section must be demonstrated by engine test, and must address, as a minimum, blades, vanes, rotor discs, spacers, and rotor shafts. The conduct of the engine test should be based on an appropriate combination of experience, analysis, and component test.
The rule was published without any prior “notice and comment.” Instead, it was offered as a direct final rule. Normally, the FAA only issues a rule as a direct final rule when it is non-controversial, and FAA regulations dictate that if someone provides adverse comments within the comment period, then the rule is withdrawn (because this is evidence that it was NOT non-controversial).
In this case, though, the rule was immediately effective and no comment period was offered at all. So there was no reasonable opportunity for anyone to offer a comment before the close of the (non-existent) comment period.
The new rule was labeled as a non-substantive technical amendment, and this claim was used as a justification for not offering the change up for notice-and-comment; however the rule change appears to be a substantive change that should have been open to prior public comment. Had it been open to public comment, then MARPA and others would have commented that it undermines the existing regulatory system, rather than improving it, and that it imposes unnecessary burdens on both the applicant and the government with no commensurate safety benefit.
In short, the promulgation appears to have violated based procedural laws that are designed to protect the public from activity like this.
MARPA has been in consultation with the Board, the Technical Committee, and the FAA on this matter. We have asked FAA Headquarters to help us out with this issue. On Friday, August 3, we filed a note with the FAA seeking formal withdrawal of the rule change. We have pointed out to the FAA that:
- this is a substantive rule change,
- this was issued without opportunity for comment, and
- industry would have opposed this change if it had been permitted to provide comment, and
- the manner of promulgation violated FAA regulations and the Administrative Procedures Act.
Based on these facts, MARPA has requested that this rule be withdrawn.
UBM announced that they would be postponing their alternative parts virtual conference, which had been scheduled for June 20. According to event organizer Colin Hall:
We’ve just received word from Inxpo, the technology partner behind our ap&m Online series of events, that due to the large number of submissions from speakers, exhibitors and sponsors still outstanding (biographies, slides, presentation summaries, booth content etc.) there is now insufficient time to upload everything and test the environment before our 20th June Go Live Date. This leaves us with the difficult choice between sticking to our event date, but with half the publicised content missing, or delaying by a few weeks and being able to deliver everything we’ve said will be there. We’ve decided to go with the latter as, unlike a physical trade show, no one has incurred travel / hotel costs etc and we’d much rather be able to utilise everything that the various contributors have provided / promised and make sure we have an event of substance.
UBM has “provisionally” selected Tuesday 17th July as the new date for this event, subject to the acquiescence of their other partners. MARPA plans to have a virtual presence at anything that UBM holds, in order to support better understanding of PMA.
Other PMA events that are upcoming (and that are not expected to be postponed) include:
The ap&m Online Alternate Parts Conference is scheduled for June 20th Haven’t yet made your travel arrangements? No worries! This is a virtual conference – you can visit it from your desk.
CHANGE NOTICE: AS OF JUNE 18, THE ONLINE CONFERENCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED – WE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN THE NEW DATE IS AS SOON AS UBM ANNOUNCES IT.
The virtual conference will focus on the market for PMA (Parts Manufacturer Approval) parts and DER (Designated Airworthiness Representative) repairs. It will feature Live Webinars and pre-recorded, on-demand content from a host of organizations.
MARPA will participate in the Conference with a virtual presence, live contact with our staff, and pre-recorded content providing tips for exporting PMA parts.
Contributors include: Air France; Aircraft Engine Support; ap&m Events; ARSA; ASM – Aircraft Systems & Manufacturing; Aviation Instruments & Avionics; CIT Aerospace; Delta Air Lines; FlyPMA.com; IBA; Lufthansa CityLine; MARPA; Spirit AeroSystems; TUI Belgium; UBM Aviation; and Wencor
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WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
The Department of State has published a proposed rule that seeks to to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs) as they apply to brokers and brokering activities.
Brokering is distinguished under the regulations from exporting. Thus, those who might negotiate a deal as an agent, or finance a deal, but who never get involved in the actual exporting of ITAR-controlled articles and services, are nonetheless subject to the State Department’s regulations.
Under the current rules, persons who broker exports of ITAR-controlled articles and services are required to register, and also in many cases to obtain licenses before they engage in brokering. This is meant to curb arms-dealing, but in practice it affects export of many aircraft parts that are controlled under the ITARs.
The recently-proposed changes to the ITARs would help by removing many dual-use parts as well as defense-related parts that do not serve a unique defense purpose from the scope of the ITARs.
The proposed rule would change (“clarify”) the definitions of the terms “broker” and “brokering activities.” It would also provide additional exemptions from the regulations for certain brokering activities. Hee are the proposed new definitions:
§ 129.2 Definitions.
(a) Broker means any person (as defined by § 120.14 of this subchapter) who engages in brokering activities.
(b) Brokering activities means any action to facilitate the manufacture, export, reexport, import, transfer, or retransfer of a defense article or defense service. Such action includes, but is not limited to:
(1) Financing, insuring, transporting, or freight forwarding defense articles and defense services, or
(2) Soliciting, promoting, negotiating, contracting for, arranging, or otherwise assisting in the purchase, sale, transfer, loan, or lease of a defense article or defense service.
(c) For the purposes of this subchapter, engaging in the business of brokering activities requires only one action as described above.
(d) The activities subject to part 129 include brokering activities:
(1) by any U.S. person wherever located;
(2) by any foreign person located in the United States;
(3) by any foreign person located outside the United States involving a U.S.-origin defense article or defense service;
(4) by any foreign person located outside the United States involving the import into the United States of any defense article or defense service; or
(5) by any foreign person located outside the United States acting on behalf of a U.S. person.
(e) Brokering activities do not include:
(1) Activities by a U.S. person in the United States that are limited exclusively to U.S. domestic sales or transfers (e.g., not for export, which includes transfer in the United States to a foreign person);
(2) Activities by employees of the U.S. Government acting in an official capacity; or
(3) Activities that do not extend beyond administrative services, such as providing or arranging office space and equipment, hospitality, advertising, or clerical, visa, or translation services, or activities by an attorney that do not extend beyond providing legal advice to a broker.
David Linebaugh is a Senior Pricipal Engineer from Delta Airlines. He is the lead engineer in Delta’s PMA Program.
Linebaugh has found that PMA parts provide a variety of advantages to the air carrier. The opportunity to have greater competition for parts provides his carrier with an alternative to yearly increases in OEM prices. But he also has found that PMA parts provide other advantages. He explained that PMA manufacturers seem very open to working with Delta on developing improvements in order to increase safety and reliability, and PMA parts are often more available than their OEM corollaries. He said that he has often had to set aside another project in order to reviews proposed engine part that is being adopted for use at Delta because the OEM corollary is unavailable to meet Delta’s needs, and the proposed PMA is available immediately.
There is a two-step process for getting a part in to Delta. The Supply Chain group reflects the “front door” to the application process. They analyze the business case to identify the likely advantages based on facyors like expected use, cost, and existing contracts. If it meets the Supply Chain process requierements, then the package will be passed to engineering.
At Delta, the PMA engineering process is implemented by Linebaugh and one other engineer. Linebaugh explained that his main focus is “does it work?” The engineering review process at Delta involves a review of the data package to confirm that the part meets Delta’s needs. Delta will ask the applicant to provide a copy of the risk assessment in order to support Delta’s own risk analysis.
The parts that go through the review process quickly are the ones where every question that the airline might ask has been anticipated and answered in the package. Don’t be offended by the airline questions, explains Linebaugh – they are simply trying to answer their questions that arise so that they can use the part.
In Linebaugh’s experience, one of the biggest reasons for rejecting a part is because of eligibility issues. Sometimes a PMA is approved for one model, but not for the specific model that Delta is flying. Applicants should make sure that the PMA supplement lists all appropriate eligible installations.
He would like to see eligibility be eliminated from the PMA mechanisms, because it would be easier for air carriers if the parts we simply replacements for the existing OEM part in all eligible installations.
His experience is that many customers have differing views of PMA use, but this appears to be a commercial issue, because the regulatory hurdles to PMA use no longer exist.
Something that he feels is useful to an applicant’s package, is explaining to the air carrier what goes into the reverse engineering process. One of the things that has sold him on PMA is his understanding of the reverse engineering process, because it shows him how much the PMA companies have put into the design process in order to make sure that the parts are right