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.
The FAA has published for public comment a draft advisory circular: AC 20-24D, Approval of Propulsion Fuels and Lubricating Oils.
Since the 2009 revision to the FAA’s manufacturing regulations, all materials and other articles for aircraft have been required to be approved by the FAA under PMA, TSOA, or PC or to fall into one of the stated exceptions found in 14 C.F.R. 21.9. This means that lubricating oils are required to be approved or to be manufactured and made available under a standard. The guidance in 20-24D makes it clear that the SAE standards specify testing standards for lubricating oils but that they are insufficient to reflect a standard for production purposes; and therefore the FAA must approve lubricating oils (e.g. through the TC for original oils, and though other means like STCs for subsequently defined oils).
The guidance appears to be out-of-date relative to the 2009 changes to the FAA’s regulations in light of the fact that it does not address production approval. Thus, the concerns with the regulations are not necessarily with the proposed revisions, but rather with the failure of the proposed revisions to bring the guidance up to the existing regulatory standard.
The guidance omits any mention of PMAs for oils, and proceeds as if PMAs were unnecessary. In light of the fact that the FAA has issued PMAs for lubricating oils, this omission seems important. Additionally, as mentioned above, 14 C.F.R. 21.9 now appears to require production approval.
Also, the fact that the FAA has issued PMAs for lubricating oils seems to create an uneven playing field is some participants in the marketplace are not required to obtain PMAs or other production approvals.
The guidance also talks about needing engine manufacturer approval for new lubricating oils. In light of the fact that some PMA holders for lubricating oil are independent of the engine manufacturer, it would appear that the guidance creates a situation where engine manufacturer approval would become a condition for market entry. This appears to potentially violate the Sherman Act .
Comments are due to the FAA at the end of September, so please get us YOUR comments by September 16 so we can make sure we address your concerns in the MARPA comments.
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
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 email@example.com.
This conversation was a follow-up to the FAA publication of a technical amendment that would have required full engine testing for vibration compliance. The FAA representatives explained that they wanted to explore the reasons for MARPA’s concerns over the rule (the rule had been withdrawn based on MARPA’s objection).
They asked about our concerns with the rule. They asked about whether a change to the preamble would have been enough to salvage the rule. We answered that IF their intent was to apply the full engine test requirement to only TC applicants (as FAA employees had indicated in an August 27, 2012 phone conversation) and not to PMA/STC applicants then merely changing the preamble would be insufficient, because the problem lay in the (withdrawn) rule language itself. We pointed out that the (withdrawn) rule language would have appeared to have required full engine vibration testing. Component-level testing (which is currently permitted for PMA applicants) would have been available as a supplement to full engine testing (and not as an alternative, as currently permitted by AC 33-83-1).
We asked what the FAA’s goals were with respect to the rule, and explained that MARPA would be happy to work with the FAA to help them meet their safety goals in a way that does not undermine industry’s ability to obtain PMAs. They responded “We are not sure where we’re going.”
They asked whether the existence of AC 33.83-1 had any impact on MARPA’s concerns and I reminded them that a common rule of regulatory construction is that a rule change that causes a rule to conflict with guidance invalidates the conflicting guidance. So if the rule had not been withdrawn then we would have been unable to use AC 33.83-1 to the extent it permitted anything less than what the new rule required
They asked about the economic effect of their rule. I explained that in a static model (of the sort used by federal economists) that it would have had a tremendous effect because it would have made engine PMAs much more expensive to obtain. I noted that in a dynamic model, the likely real world effect could have been to stop engine PMA applications because it could become economically impractical for PMA applicants to perform full engine vibration testing in lieu of the methods made available by AC 33.83-1 (as opposed to using the reasonable methods currently permitted in the AC). Neither of these models appear to produce economic results that are favorable for America.
Later in the conversation I reiterated that MARPA would be happy to assist the FAA in crafting language if they could just tell us what their goals are in the rule change exercise. They explained that “We are not yet prepared to say what our goal is.“ They also explained that they felt the ex parte rules and standards precluded them from disclosing any information about their thoughts or purposes (the ex parte rules do permit the FAA to engage in pre-rulemaking ex parte contacts to obtain technical and economic information).
What does this mean for the PMA Community? It means that the FAA appears to be working on another change to the vibration rule of 14 C.F.R. 33.83. It means that they recognize that such changes are potentially controversial and thus they are collecting data to try to improve the next iteration of the rule. But it also means that the Engine Directorate is as-yet unable to elucidate a cogent rationale for why they would like to change the vibration rule. This is something we will be looking for in the coming months.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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):
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.
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 email@example.com. Comments on Draft AC 21.303-PMA should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you file formal comments or not, please share your thoughts and concerns with MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at email@example.com. MARPA will make every effort to address our members’ concerns in our comments to the FAA.
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:
MARPA will be there and will be reporting on the new directions proposed by the regulators.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send copies of your comments to MARPA so that we can be sure that our comments reflect your concerns.
Has your company taken advantage of the FAA’s streamlined process for PMAs on Non-Safety-Sensitive (NSS) parts, yet? If so, MARPA wants to hear from you.
As we have previously posted on this blog, the streamlined process—detailed in FAA Order 8110.119—involves following the MARPA 1100 Standard for PMA applications for NSS parts. The MARPA 1100 standard is available on our website. Applicants who follow the standard (and confirm that they meet the elements of the FAA Order) are entitled to expedited processing of their applications. The FAA has established a goal to turn-around NSS PMA applications that meet the MARPA standard within 30 days.
A 30-day turn-around would provide NSS PMA applicants with an improved ability to make commitments to customers about expected production and delivery times when those times hinge upon PMA issuance. This should also encourage companies to seek PMA for NSS parts.
The process does not alleviate the applicant of their obligation to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations (remember, you must certify compliance as part of your PMA application); but it does provide a standardized format that should make it easier for FAA ACO engineers to review and approve such applications, consistent with the FAA’s commitment to using risk-based tools to assign resources. This is particularly important as budgets for federal agencies continue to be scaled back.
As with any new initiative, there is likely to be growing pains and some resistance to the adoption and implementation of the streamlined process. We have received some reports from various corners about ACOs that were skeptical of, or unwilling to participate with, the streamline process.
In order to assist MARPA members navigating the streamlined PMA process, we are seeking to issue a set of Best Practices to help guide PMA manufacturers through the new procedure. For this we’d like to hear from you regarding your experiences using the streamlined process. What techniques have been helpful? How did you navigate the MOU process? How closely did you work with your ACO? Do you have any suggestions or words of caution for other PMA manufacturers seeking to take advantage of the streamlined process?
MARPA will compile these responses into a Best Practices guide that will be made available exclusively to MARPA members. We look forward to hearing about your experiences and helping the PMA industry benefit from this new process.
Email your responses to Ryan Aggergaard at Ryan@washingtonaviation.com.