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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.
Jason Dickstein has written 343 posts for MARPA

FAA Updates PMA Order to Refine Part Marking Requirements

The FAA has issued a “Change One” to FAA Order 8110.42D.  This is the PMA order and this guidance remains quite important to any PMA applicant.  Thus any change can be cause for concern.

The recent “change one” appears to have made only one substantive change.  It is a change on Page 2-9 to the language addressing part marking.  This introduces the very reasonable guidance that was published as a FAA policy memo earlier this year.  We recently wrote about that useful guidance in this blog.

Part Marking, Better Explained

The policy memo clarified what the rules require.  The FAA rules require each PMA manufacturer to permanently and legibly mark each part (14 C.F.R. § 45.15(a)), but they do not require PMA drawings to specify details about the marking.  The FAA has internal guidance (Section 2-10 of FAA Order 8110.42D) that suggested that “the drawings must specify a permanent and legible method of marking.” The policy memo clarified that the drawings could merely explain how a marking is applied, without specifying the marking:

Policy and Guidance [from the memo]

The method of the article marking in Section 2-10 is required to be in the design data for PMA articles. The PMA holder/applicant can develop a process on how to comply with “The drawings must specify a permanent and legible method of marking.” This is independent of the required PMA article marking in accordance with 14 CFR 45.15(a).

The detailed methodology of the marking can be identified in their quality control document, a controlled process specification, an engineering order, or other acceptable means as long as it has traceability, and is referenced in their PMA application package, which contains of the design data and drawings.

Order 8110.42 has now been updated consistent with the memo. The new language (section 2-10 which is found on page 2-9) says:

2-10 Article Marking Requirements. Check the article’s marking scheme specified in its design data. The applicant must specify a permanent and legible method of marking. 14 CFR 45.15(a) sets the marking requirements for PMA articles. These markings must identify the article as “FAA-PMA”, the article’s part number and the name, trademark or symbol of the manufacturer. The detailed marking scheme and methodology can be identified in their quality control document, a controlled process specification, an engineering order, or other acceptable means as long as it has traceability, and is referenced in their PMA application package.

The flexibility associated with this new language means that a company could specify the mechanism for marking (e.g. by cross referencing a company policy document) and then if the company changes its corporate name, a mere change to the internal marking policy document could change the marking on future parts subject to the internal marking policy.  This could make name changes and other organic corporate changes much easier, as they would no longer require changes to the FAA-approved drawings, nor would they require associated FAA review and approval of such ministerial changes.  Likewise, this makes it easier for a company to change its identification protocols, such as a change from using the name of the company in its markings to using a trademark of the company in all of its markings.

Other Changes

What’s that?  You can’t find page 2-9?  That is because change one also introduced some new (non-substantive) errors into chapter two.  The chapter two pages after 2-8 are all mis-numbered and the word “Toleranc” [sic] is improperly spelled.

These minor formatting errors would not be as frustrating if the FAA would apply the same standards to their own work as they apply to the industry.  I have seen the FAA return FAA-PMA applications for spelling corrections before they will accept them for processing.

By all rights, the formatting errors should reflect “change two” but I will not be surprised if the FAA may simply corrects them under the same change number, in order to avert attention from the errors.

Compliance Advice

No one is required to change an existing drawing under this new guidance.

But for future drawings, you should strongly consider detailing the marking methods (e.g. peening / hot stamp / etc.) and locations in your drawings, consistent with the 8110.42 guidance; but the details of the marking should be cross referenced in a document that is not subject to FAA approval (e.g. “apply marking using  [method] in [place detailed in drawing]; mark according to internal company specification [xx-nnn]”).

This internal company specification can then detail the specific information for the part (like company name, part number identified according to company policy, and “FAA-PMA”).  Then, if the company chooses to make changes to the part markings, it can make company-wide changes for future production by simply changing the internal company specification and setting an effective date for the change.

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Air Carrier SMS Deadline Looms

Under the FAA regulations, part 121 air carriers are required to implement acceptable Safety Management Systems (SMS) by March 9, 2018.  That is six months away!

14 C.F.R. § 119.8(a): Certificate holders authorized to conduct operations under part 121 of this chapter must have a safety management system that meets the requirements of part 5 of this chapter and is acceptable to the Administrator by March 9, 2018.

Most major air carriers already have these systems in place, but some smaller carrier may not yet have implemented an SMS program.

PMA holders should remind their air carrier customers about this looming deadline.  They should also be vigilant for air carrier requests to share data in support of the SMS program.

PMA Parts Must be Marked – But Drawings? There are Options!

The FAA has clarified the PMA marking requirements as they apply to PMA drawings.  The clarification opens up a new mechanism for companies to streamline their processes.

An FAA policy memo explains that an “an external QMS auditor interpreted that the marking requirements …  be marked or stamped on the drawings.”  The FAA memo explains that this is not correct.

The regulations require that a manufacturer must permanently and legibly mark each part (14 C.F.R. § 45.15(a)).  The FAA’s internal guidance (Section 2-10 of FAA Order 8110.42D) suggests that “the drawings must specify a permanent and legible method of marking.”  The policy memo clarifies that the drawings could merely explain how a marking is applied, without specifying the marking:

Policy and Guidance

The method of the article marking in Section 2-10 is required to be in the design data for PMA articles. The PMA holder/applicant can develop a process on how to comply with “The drawings must specify a permanent and legible method of marking.” This is independent of the required PMA article marking in accordance with 14 CFR 45.15(a).

The detailed methodology of the marking can be identified in their quality control document, a controlled process specification, an engineering order, or other acceptable means as long as it has traceability, and is referenced in their PMA application package, which contains of the design data and drawings.

The flexibility associated with this interpretation means that a company could specify the mechanism for marking (e.g. by cross referencing a company policy document) and then if the company changes its corporate name, a mere change to the internal marking policy document could change the marking on future parts subject to the internal marking policy. This could make name changes and other organic corporate changes much easier, as they would no longer require changes to the drawings, nor would they require associated FAA review and approval of such ministerial changes to the drawings.

Opportunity to Consult with a non-US Government on Certification

If you consider yourself a certification expert in mechanical flight controls or ULDs, then we may have a tremendous consulting opportunity for you.

MARPA has been contacted by a non-US authority that is seeking certification experts specialized in the following subjects:

  • Mechanical flight control system, landing gear with wheel and brake, engine mount for STC of the EC155B1 helicopter;
  • Testing of pallets and containers per SAE AS36102 in accordance with the TSO-C90 (Cargo Pallets, Nets and Containers (Unit Load Devices/ULDs)).

The non-US authority wishes to hire the certification experts for a 3-4 month engagement.  They expect the engagement to include

  • two onsite consultations for 4 days (seminar, Q&A, OJT, site visit, and so on);
  • Questions and answers via emails during the consulting period.

We were contacted because we have worked with this government in the past (and we’ve really enjoyed working with them).  If you are interested, then please contact Katt Brigham (by August 18th) and she will be happy to share the details with members of the MARPA community.

New FAA Guidance Could Affect Parts Related to Engines and APUs: Open for Comment

The FAA has published for public comment a draft advisory circular on “Uncontrollable High Engine Thrust/Power (UHT) Failure Conditions.”

The draft AC interprets 14 C.F.R. § 25.901(c) to require that the safety analysis include an analysis of UHT failures.  Under this new interpretation, when PMA parts potentially affect the powerplant or the APU, or if they affect the interface between airframe and engine/APU, it appears that the FAA may ask future applicants to meet 25.901(c).  Potentially, this could be applied to each aircraft on which the engine or APU is eligible for installation.

The regulation being interpreted currently reads as follows:

c) For each powerplant and auxiliary power unit installation, it must be established that no single failure or malfunction or probable combination of failures will jeopardize the safe operation of the airplane except that the failure of structural elements need not be considered if the probability of such failure is extremely remote.

This new interpretation appears to be a burden that was not anticipated at the time that the regulation was promulgated.  Subsection (c) was originally promulgated in 1970, and originally merely required that the 25.1309 analysis be performed (the preamble to the final rule clarified that this was sufficient). In 1970, the analysis was supposed to be an installation fault analysis.  The rule was changed in 1977 in order to “provide for a higher degree of airplane-engine compatibility.”  But the UHT issue appears to be unrelated to airplane-engine compatibility, so requiring this as an element of the 25.901(c) analysis seems like an expansion of what the regulation was designed to require.  Such an expansion of scope typically requires an amendment to the the regulation.

Moreover, it appears that the FAA has anticipated that the burden of this new analysis might be unreasonable, and therefore they have specifically invited design approval applicants to petition for exemption from this provision (the invitation exists within the body of the draft AC).

Do you see any impact to your PMAs (current or future)?  How does this affect your business?  Let us know so that MARPA’s comments on this policy can reflect your interests.

Comments on this draft AC are due to the FAA by September 4, 2017.  We would appreciate your comments to MARPA by August 28, so we can reflect them in our own comments.

New FAA Guidance on Propeller PMA Parts – Open for Comment

The FAA has published a draft policy statement on PMAs for critical propeller parts.  The draft policy statement is entitled “Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) for Propeller Critical Parts and Category 1 Propeller Parts.”  If this policy effects you, then we need to know your opinion before we file the MARPA comments on this draft policy!

The essence of the proposed policy appears to be:

  • Defines a set of parts subject to enhanced oversight that includes:
    1. Critical propeller parts identified by § 35.15 Safety analysis
    2. Parts identified as critical in FAA Order 8110.42D
    3. Category 1 parts defined in FAA Order 8120.23A [this could have the effect of applying critical parts requirements to parts that are not critical under the FAA regulations]
    4. Parts with airworthiness limitations
  • Defines certain parts as presumptively critical:
    • Certain blades, hubs, and counterweights
    • Certain primary load path blade retention parts, such as ferrules and blade clamps
    • Certain metallic blade erosion shields
    • Certain blades and counterweights
    • Certain blade pitch change pins
    • Certain pitch change links, yokes, and forks
    • Pitch change system parts:
      • Pressure cylinder, piston, actuator, seals, and springs
      • Beta feedback rods
      • Low and high pitch stops
      • Oil transfer tubes
    • All parts of the propeller control system:
      • Governors
      • Propeller control units
      • Propeller electronic controls
      • Propeller servo valves
  • Requires that an applicant seeking to PMA parts subject to enhanced oversight must coordinate the application with the certificate management ACO (for the type certificate) and the Engine and Propeller Directorate
  • Imposes on the PMA applicant a series of life management obligations for parts subject to the policy:
    1. The PMA applicant is responsible for determining if the part has been life assessed;
    2. A part specific certification plan is required for life assessed critical PMA propeller part(s);
    3. The part specific certification plan must include a fatigue life methodology that supports a continued airworthiness life management program (this appears to be something potentially more than the service management process required by the regulations).
    4. When managing propeller critical parts and category 1 propeller parts, the applicant must provide a program to monitor those parts and establish a life management program.

One concern is that a major propeller effect (as defined in 14 C.F.R. 35.15(g)(2)) is different from a hazardous propeller effect (as defined in 14 C.F.R. 35.15(g)(1)).  Only parts whose failures result in hazardous propeller effects are propeller critical parts under 14 C.F.R. 35.15(c).  And only propeller critical parts are required to meet the integrity establishment requirements of 14 C.F.R. 35.16.  But the policy document establishes additional classes of parts that will be subject to section 35.16.  Some parts with major propeller effects (as defined in 14 C.F.R. 35.15(g)(2)) could also be characterized as category 1 parts under FAA Order 8120.23A.  This policy memo appears to subject those parts to an inappropriate requirement by conflating them with propeller critical parts and requiring that they comply with the integrity establishment requirements of 14 C.F.R. 35.16.  This appears to be a potential de facto change to the regulations.

What do you think?  Do you have category one parts whose failure only reflects a major propeller effect and not a hazardous propeller effect?

Do you see any different impact?  Anything we’ve missed?  How does this affect your business?  Let us know so that MARPA’s comments on this policy can reflect your interests.

Comments on this draft are due to the FAA by August 31, 2017.  We would appreciate your comments to MARPA by August 24.

Bob Cook to Retire from the FAA

Bob Cook from the FAA will be retiring after this week.  You may not know the name but you certainly know his work.

He has been involved in a tremendous amount of rulemaking and policy making efforts at the FAA.  The one that sticks in my mind is 14 C.F.R. 21.137.  Bob was part of the team tasked with coming up with a modern vision of quality assurance.  It would have been very easy to create a subjective rule that was vague and made compliance difficult; instead, 14 C.F.R. 21.137 very clearly establishes objective criteria expected in a modern quality assurance system.

How did  14 C.F.R. 21.137 come into being?  Bob once told me that they put together a wish list of quality system elements, and then he led a chopping block exercise in which they asked for each element (1) what safety value does it provide and (2) does the FAA really need to regulate this element?  This exercise allowed them to remove many elements that were nice to have, but that were not necessary and therefore did not need to be part of the regulation.  The result was a quality assurance regulation that serves as a model for the entire global industry.  It is the sort of regulation that no one complains about – no one thinks it is overbearing and no one thinks it falls short of what it should address.  That is a rare sort of regulation, indeed.  This was the sort of reasonable approach to regulation that we always expected from Bob Cook.

Bob sent an email announcing his retirement.  It read (in part):

To all those that I have worked with over this last 17 years in the FAA and 40+ in the aviation industry:

I will be retiring on June 23rd.  I wish to thank each of you for helping to make my time at the FAA both enjoyable and rewarding.  I have stated many times that this has been the best job I ever had, and I truly meant it.  The managers and the management team I worked for (while being frustrating at times) provided me with every opportunity to learn and progress within the organization.

To those that I had the pleasure of working with on aviation issues I want to thank you for all the time, effort and concern you placed on the continuous improvement of quality within our industry.  Your openness to share quality improvements and working, as an industry, through organizations such as the IAQG, AAQG, AIA, GAMA, and MARPA to establish quality standards and a quality system oversight processes that are used internationally, is one of the greatest achievements of which I had the pleasure to be involved.

* * *

After 40+ years of working in the aviation industry I expect it will be hard for me to just walk away so you may see me commenting on rulemaking as a concerned citizen.  If you do, I hope to see a better response than “Thank you for your interest in aviation safety”.  I will miss working with you on issues that makes our aviation industry the safest and most respected in the world.

* * *

Bob Cook
Very Soon to be a Private Citizen

We will miss his attention to detail, his willingness to listen, and his commitment to safety.

If anyone wants to send Bob a thank-you or goodbye message, then he is still in the office this week, and his email is Robert.cook@faa.gov.

Standard Parts Do Not Need PMA (but it can be an option)

A consultant recently told me that his client is planning to produce parts under NASM22529.  He asked for advice about the process for showing compliance to get a PMA.

NASM22529 is an AIA/ NAS standard.  It replaced a milspec of the same number that was retired in 1996.  As an AIA (NAS) specification, it is recognized as the sort of industry specification that supports ‘standard parts’ under the FAA’s interpretation of the term.

Standards parts can be manufactured and sold without a PMA.  The regulatory authority for this can be found at 14 C.F.R. § 21.9(a)(3).  Therefore a PMA is not necessary in order to produce standard parts intended to be consumed in civil aviation.

While it is not necessary to seek FAA approval to manufacture a standard part,it is nonetheless possible to get a PMA for a standard part, and in some cases (like fasteners) it can also be possible to obtain a TSOA for a standard part.

There are a number of reasons why someone might seek to obtain FAA approval for a standard part.  This sort of FAA approval can be valuable for marketing purposes.

If you seek FAA approval for a part, then the design of the part must be shown to meet the appropriate FAA standards, and the production quality assurance system must be developed to meet FAA requirements.

The same consultant also asked whether AS9100 certification satisfies all or most of the PMA requirements?  The AS9100 series of specifications were specifically designed to support compliance to aviation regulatory standards, but compliance with AS9100 should not be confused with compliance to FAA regulations.  The answer to this question can depend on the implementation of the AS9100 system.

AS9100 will typically satisfy requirements under 14 C.F.R. § 21.137, as well as certain other requirements, but it may does not satisfy all FAA approval requirements (A well-developed AS9100 system can be developed to provide management assurance of compliance with all of the relevant FAA requirements but it can also be developed to omit some of them).

The design side of the manufacturing process is a process that is particularly susceptible to a finding that the AS9100 system is not adequate, alone, to ensure compliance to FAA regulations.

Looking to learn more about PMAs?  You may want to consider attending the MARPA Conference in Orlando on October 25-26, 2017.  The FAA has confirmed that they will be teaching a “PMA 101” workshop as part of the Conference.  You can find out more at http://pmaparts.org/annualconference/about.shtml

Manufacturing Receiving Inspection is Not the Sort of “Inspection” that requires Drug and Alcohol Testing Under DOT Standards

Are manufacturers required to drug test their receiving inspectors?  A recent FAA legal interpretation explains that receiving inspectors typically are not subject to the DOT drug and alcohol testing rules.

The FAA has issued a legal interpretation that confirms that receiving inspectors who are receiving articles for stock are not performing maintenance activities, and therefore they are not among the personnel who are required to be subject to DOT-regulated drug and alcohol testing.

This effort was spearheaded by our industry colleagues at ARSA, but the final request for interpretation was jointly filed by 15 organizations (including MARPA).

The root of the issue is that the Part 120 requirements require air carriers to ensure that their maintenance subcontractors are tested under the drug and alcohol rules. This requirement is applied to those who perform aircraft maintenance duties – but those who do not perform such duties are not subject to the testing requirement.  Inspection is described as a species of maintenance in the FAA’s definitions.

So what about manufacturers who produce in support of an air carrier’s maintenance efforts?  Are their receiving inspectors performing maintenance when they inspect incoming articles?

The FAA explained:

14 CFR part 43 applies to the performance of maintenance and preventative maintenance. Sections 43.9 and 43.11 establish recordkeeping requirements for tasks associated with maintenance and preventative maintenance. These recordkeeping requirements have never been applied to tasks associated with receiving articles for stock. Individuals who perform receiving tasks ensure that there is no visible damage to the packaging or the enclosed items, and that the articles were obtained from an approved or acceptable source. Persons performing these tasks compare part numbers, serial numbers, quantity, etc. with the purchase order and confirm that the items match the purchase order and that they are not damaged. These tasks are not maintenance or preventative maintenance activities. Therefore, employees receiving items for stock are not safety sensitive employees under part 120 and should not be included in the pool of employees subject to drug and alcohol testing.

 

Finding Suppliers in Taiwan

Are you looking to expand your global supply base?  The Taiwan Trade Center is raising awareness about the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), which will be held in Taipei on August 17 – 19.  In order to entice potential business partners to the show, the Taiwan Trade Center is offering generous subsidies to MARPA members interested in attending the exhibition.  Here is their offer:

For qualified buyers, we offer the following incentives:

  1. For companies with annual sales exceeding US$30 million that are related to the industries profiled in the show, TAITRA will offer 1 R/T economy-class ticket scheduled stay during two full show-day periods between August 17 and August 19, 2017, 1 room with a maximum allowance of NT$15,000 (tax included) to be used toward lodging (up to 4 nights being in August 16 to August19, 2017) and airport pickup to-from the accommodating hotel. Attending procurement meetings is requested.

  2. For companies with annual sales exceeding US$5 million that are related to the industries profiled in the show, TAITRA will offer 1 R?T economy-class ticket scheduled stay during two full show-day periods between August 17 and August 19, 2017. Attending procurement meetings is requested.

  3. For companies with annual sales exceeding US$0.3 million that are related to the industries profiled in the show, TAITRA will offer 1 room with a maximum allowance of NT$ 15,000 (tax included) to be used toward lodging (up to 4 nights being in August 16 to August 19, 2017) and airport pickup to-from the accommodating hotel.

In order to accept this offer from the Taiwan Trade Center, MARPA members must complete the 2017 TADTE Registration Form. The completed form should be emailed to Unice Wu from the Taiwan Trade Center – New York at unicewu@taitra.org.tw. There are a limited number of subsidies available, so apply ASAP!

 

Taiwan Details:

Despite the ‘One-China-Policy,’ Taiwan has its own Civil Aviation Authority which is separate from the CAA of China. Taiwan has processes for issuing TSOA and PMA. Under a bilateral agreement, the US accepts new TSO appliances from Taiwan that meet the performance standards of an FAA TSO under an FAA letter of TSO design approval. They also accept replacement parts for those TSOA articles. The U.S. currently does not accept PMA parts from Taiwan.

EASA has a working arrangement with the Taiwan CAA for the validation of EASA certificates. This appears to be a one-way arrangement; EASA does not appear to have a process for validating Taiwan CAA approvals.

In defense contracts, Taiwan is treated by the United States as a major non-NATO ally (22 C.F.R. § 120.32).