I found a very disturbing maintenance manual program that appears to make it impossible for a company to comply with the FAA’s regulatory requirements without violating U.S. antitrust laws.
I was recently referred to the Goodrich-Messier, Inc., Aircraft Wheel and Brake technical publications website by a MARPA member. One can find Component Maintenance Manuals, Service Bulletins and Service Letters for Aircraft Wheels and Brakes on this website. One can also use this website to view the manual index, and maintain the person’s subscription information.
In order to gain access to the technical publications, the subscriber must agree to a licensing agreement that preclude use of PMA parts as a condition of obtaining access:
Under this agreement,
“All subscribers to the Goodrich-Messier, Inc. publications library must agree…” to install “only Goodrich-Messier, Inc.-authorized parts” … “during maintenance and overhaul.”
Effectively, it is a license whose purpose is to preclude the use of PMA parts. The manufacturer in this case is holding the CMMs hostage to the agreement, because a subscriber cannot access the CMMS without agreeing to this restriction.
This puts the industry in a terrible position. Under 14 C.F.R. 145.109(d), any repair station doing work on such such assemblies MUST have the maintenance manuals. But in order to get them, they have to agree to only install the Goodrich-Messier parts, and not to install FAA-approved competitive parts (e.g. PMA).
The agreement explains that:
“There are concerns that the use of replacement parts that are not authorized by Goodrich-Messier, Inc. may compromise the performance and reliability of the wheel(s) and braking system.”
This statement seems to be attacking the FAA’s approval system at its core. After the FAA’s approval process, there should not be any legitimate concerns about safety (no more so than after any other FAA approval process).
MARPA has had some recent conversations with the FAA about ICA and CMM guidance that is used to prevent entry of PMA into the marketplace. We know that the FAA shares some of our concerns. The FAA’s regulations should not be used as a fulcrum for leveraging companies into un-natural monopoly positions in existing competitive markets among competitors who are all in full compliance with the FAA’s regulations.