The FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC 00-56A) sets forth steps that are necessary in order for a civil aircraft parts distributor to become accredited. The FAA lists five accreditation organizations that will certify a distributor: Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA); American National Standards Institute (ANSI); General Aviation Parks Suppliers Association (GAPSA); Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE); and Transonic Aviation consultants, Inc. It is important to note that the FAA reminds distributors that being accrediting is entirely voluntary and not mandatory.
AC 00-56A mandates that civil aircraft parts distributors, in order to be accredited, must have a quality system in place. A quality system is defined as “[t]he total network of administrative and technical data and detailed procedures required to maintain the product and parts thereof to specified airworthiness standards.” In other words, a parts distributor must have a quality system in place to assure customers that parts documented with the correct information indicating what the part is for as well as administrative procedures to ensure that employees are trained in their respective roles.
The elements of a quality system are set out in section 6(a) of AC 00-56A. The following is a summary of the elements:
- Procedures that ensure that parts are traceable to a prior source
- System for training personnel to ensure quality system is properly executed
- Administrative procedure that provide for the identification and qualification of all employees
- Procedure for segregation of incoming discrepant material
- Measuring equipment control
- Shelf-life control system
- System that assures technical data is maintained in an accessible manner
- Inspection stamp control
- Packaging control
- Environmental controls
- Procedure for assuring accountability
- Procedure for assuring accountability when approval tags or other traceable documents are duplicated
- Procedure for documenting redistribution of lots
- Procedures for maintaining documentation originally received from parts manufacturer
- Procedure for monitoring the effectiveness of the distributor’s quality system
- Recall control system
- System for notifying the accreditation organization prior to implementing any significant changes
- System for hazardous material control
A distributor becomes accredited by one of the accreditation organizations certifying that the distributor is in compliance with AC 00-56A and with the accreditation organization’s own standards. Therefore, if a distributor meets the accreditation organization’s quality system standard—a standard that ensures that the distributor’s quality system provides acceptable level of control as mandated by AC 00-56A—they will become accredited. For example, ASA has their own standard known as the ASA-100 standard. In order to be accredited by ASA a distributor must meet their standards. For a copy of the ASA-100 standard please visit: http://www.aviationsuppliers.org/ASA/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000000035/ASA-100%20Rev%203-5.pdf
It is common to see most distributors accredited because of their interest in robust quality assurance. Many customers require that distributors be accredited in the first place before a business transaction takes place. Therefore, it is important to be aware that when dealing with a distributor, they may or may not be accredited which could in turn affect your business.