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Will the New FAA Manufacturing Rules Lead to a “Quicker Approval Process”?

Twice in the preamble to the new part 23 rule, the FAA explains that “many part suppliers may benefit from this performance-based rule through an expected quicker approval process.”

This seems to suggest that the parts approval process will be expedited because it will be easier for an applicant for a Part 23-based PMA to demonstrate compliance under the performance-based regulations.  The question on everyone’s lips is whether that will turn out to be true.

While the majority of our members are focused on parts for commercial aviation, a sizeable minority of our members produce parts for Part 23 airplanes.  It is important to MARPA that these members continue to be able to obtain PMAs on a equitable and safe basis.  It is equally important that they be able to enter the marketplace on an even playing field.

The new rules will facilitate use of non-standard mechanisms for approval.  Under current policy (which is supported by the rule change), manufacturers may build Angle-of-Attack indicator systems according to standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM).  They may apply to the FAA for approval of the design via a letter certifying that the equipment meets ATSM standards and was produced under required quality systems. The FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) processes all applications to ensure consistent interpretation of the policy.  This sort of model may be used more often under the new rules.

One approach for MARPA members might be to identify other articles that could be described by industry consensus standards, and to help develop those standards in partnership with the FAA.

For PMA projects for Part 23 airplanes, the certification basis might be a prior revision level of Part 23, so be careful that you choose the right certification basis for your project.  Because of this, the direct effect on PMA applications of the rule changes may not be fully understood for many years.  But to the extent that the new rules permit competitors to enter the marketplace more easily (but always with adequate showings of airworthiness), the rules could represent a benefit to an industry where competition and safety innovation have gone hand-in-hand.

The new rules go into effect August 30, 2017.  We are eager to hear your experiences with them.

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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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