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Aircraft Parts, aviation, FAA, FAA Design Approval, Manufacturing, Parts Marking, PMA, Policy, Regulatory

Will the PMA Supplement Continue to List Eligibility?

We answer a substantial number of questions from members. Often, those questions-and-answers are turned into blog posts or articles that we publish for the general use of our members. For this Q&A, we thought that the PMA community might get some benefit from seeing the entire Q&A:

QUESTION:

With the marking eligibility changes on PMA parts, are there any changes pending for the supplement eligibility? I guess my question is will the PMA applicant still need to identify all applicable eligibility for installation or will that also be removed as part of the part 21 changes?

ANSWER:

This requirement to mark eligibility on PMA parts was removed by a recent rule change, but compliance with the the rule change is not authorized until April 2011.  On its face, this change does not seem to affect the information printed on the PMA supplement.

PMA applicants will still need to identify at least one eligible installation in their application.  The identity of the product on which the article is to be installed must be identified under the new regulations.  14 C.F.R. 21.303(a)(1).  Because installation eligibility is an element of the application for PMA, it is likely (at present) to remain as an element published in the PMA supplement.

There is a practical reason for continuing to require the identity of the intended installation in the application.  As a practical matter, applicants will need to do so in order to permit the FAA to consider the airworthiness of the part in the context of an actual design into which it is being installed.  You can see this reflected in the FAA’s opinions that PMA parts are approved in the context of an existing aircraft, engine or propeller product, and not in the context of a sub-assembly, nor merely as a replacement for a discrete part.  E.g. Parts Manufacturer Approval Procedures, FAA Order 8110.42C, Chap. 1 Para. 5(b) (June 23, 2008).  While it is certainly possible that the FAA could change its position on this matter, I think that it is highly doubtful, and that a change in position would undermine the FAA’s regulatory authority to ensure safety in aircraft, engine or propeller products.

This is different from being required to “all applicable eligibility for installation.” The requirement is only to identify one eligible installation. The applicant has an option to identify other installations, in which case those other installations may be listed on the PMA supplement, but air carriers (for example) have always had the ability to use a PMA part for a non-listed installation, so long as the installer has the engineering data to support that the intended installation will return the aircraft to a condition at least equal to original or properly altered condition (conformity to the requirements of 14 C.F.R. 43.13).

Thus, the requirement to identify at least one intended installation is likely to continue, even though the installation-eligibility-marking-requirement is being phased-out, but there is no legal requirement to list ALL possible installations.

As new possible installations are identified, it is a matter of the applicant’s discretion to decide whether to apply to the FAA for an amendment to the PMA supplement to include the additional eligible installations.  There is certainly a marketing advantage, though, to including additional installation eligibility within the four corners of the PMA supplement (in terms of being able to demonstrate that the FAA has already approved the engineering data that demonstrates installation eligibility).

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About Jason Dickstein

Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

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