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GECAS Says it has No Safety or Technical Issues with PMA

GECAS’ Gilberto Peralta turned some heads at CCMA yesterday when he said that he sees no safety or technical issues with PMAs.  He explained that his only objections to PMAs are commercial.

Peralta is the GECAS General Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean.  ALTA representatives confirmed that GECAS is the most significant leasing company in South America.  Peralta was part of the CCMA panel discussing the technical and commercial aspects of PMA parts.

He explained that GECAS’ standard lease agreement excludes PMAs, and therefore he expects that the lease terms will control the use of PMAs.  He explained that the reason for this term is because of a fear that air carriers will not accept a leased aircraft with installed PMAs. Several operators in the audience suggested that their only impediment to accepting PMAs is the anti-PMA lease terms.  David Linebaugh of Delta, who was also part of the same panel, suggested that this is a chicken-and-the-egg situation, in which operators and lessors blame one another for erecting walls against PMA when they really all just need to get out of the way of progress.

The audience asked Peralta whether GECAS would accept use of PMAs during the term of the lease if those PMA parts were removed and replaced in pars manufacture under a production certificate (“OEM” parts).  Peralta explained “I don’t know what you do with the the aircraft during the lease term,” and expressed that his concern was only with the condition of the aircraft at the time of return.  He added that he would expect the lessee to take responsibility for such PMA part failures.  Mike Garcia of HEICO, who was also part of the panel, explained that HEICO offers a generous warranty to support its parts (so operator liability should not be an issue); but he also noted that HEICO has never experienced an airworthiness directive or service bulletin on any of its articles.

FAA Deputy Associate Administrator John Hickey was also on hand as part of the same panel.  He noted that the FAA has issued a very small number of airworthiness directives against PMA parts,  but that the FAA issues “two hundred, three hundred, even four hundred ADs per year” against PC holders products and articles.  He noted that the PMA community has an excellent safety record, and that the FAA has rigorous design approval and production approval processes intended to ensure that FAA approved designs – and the parts created under them – remain compliant with the FAA’s regulatory safety standards.

FAA Draft Policy Statement on Modification Articles Open for Comment

The FAA has released a Draft Policy Statement related to Order 8110.42D that is directly applicable to the PMA community. PS-AIR-21-1601 – FAA Order 8110.42D, Parts Manufacturer Approval Procedures – Use of Parts Manufacturer Approvals (PMA) for Minor Modifications to Products establishes FAA policy for “the gray area when a modification to a product does not rise to the level of a major change . . .  and the producer of the modification article wishes to sell it in accordance with 14 CFR 21.9.”

The Draft Policy explains that historically there was not a consistent policy for issuing PMAs when the PMA made a modification that did not rise to the level of a major change under the regulations. Confusion existed as to whether a STC was appropriate for a modification article that did not constitute a major change to type design.

The Draft Policy clarifies the FAA’s position that:

PMA is a suitable method to approve an article, and provide for that article’s installation, in cases where the installation would not constitute introduction of a major change in a product’s type design.

The policy goes on to explain that the applicant must be able to identify the change resulting from installation of the article and justify it as not being a major change to the product and have the project ACO’s agreement.

On balance this looks like a positive policy for the PMA industry, clarifying modification PMAs that do not constitute a major change to a product’s type design can be approved through the PMA process and not require a STC. However we would still like to hear from our members to determine if there are any unintended consequences of this policy or ways in which the policy can be made more clear.

Comments on this policy statement are due May 1, 2016, so please email Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com if you have any concerns about this policy or potential effects on the PMA industry.

Small Business Standards for Aerospace R&D, Adjusted

The Small Business Administration has adjusted the size standards for small businesses that perform research and development in the aerospace field (including businesses that are required to deliver manufactured product as part of a research and development contract).

Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences is currently categorized under NAICS 541712.  This NAICS code has three sub-industries or “exceptions.” The SBA feels that the small business standard for these companies should be consistent with that of peer companies that manufacture parts.  SBA is therefore modifying the titles of the three exceptions, and the size thresholds associated with them.

NAICS code NAICS industry title Current size standard (number of employees) New size standard (number of employees)
541712 Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology) 500 1000
except Aircraft Engine and Engine Parts 1000 1500
except Other Aircraft Parts and Auxiliary Equipment 1000 1250
except Guided Missiles and Space Vehicles, Their Propulsion Units and Propulsion Parts 1000 1250

This rule change becomes effective on February 26, 2016. Full details of this change are available in the Federal Register.

US Names Denied Aviation Parties from Gambia and UK

The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security has issued an order denying the export privileges of:

  • Ribway Airlines Company Limited (from The Gambia),
  • Af-Aviation Limited (from Wolverhampton, UK),
  • Andy Farmer (from Wolverhampton, UK),
  • John Edward Meadows (from East Sussex, UK), and
  • Jeffrey John James Ashfield (from East Sussex, UK).

This is a temporary denial order that is only valid for 180 days, unless extended.  Although published in today’s Federal register, the order is actually dated January 19, 2016. The Order prohibits the denied parties from engaging in export transactions, and it includes a prohibition against third parties exporting from the U.S. to any of these denied parties.

Absent a license that authorizes sales to these denied parties, sales of US-origin FAA-PMA parts to such denied parties may violate the temporary denial order.

MARPA members with a history of doing business with any of these parties should ensure that their future transactions remain consistent with U.S. law.  While the Order remains effective, those who are approached by any of these denied parties should exercise caution in their dealings.

Compliance with the New Part 21 Rules

As we discussed at the MARPA Annual Conference, Part 21 has been amended in some ways that will impact the PMA community.

The amendments can be found in the October 1 Federal Register.  There are three main amendments that drive change in a PMA company’s production quality system:

  • Change in the compliance statement;
  • Change in supplier management; and
  • Capability for PMA holders to issue 8130-3 tags  (without using designees).

MARPA has drafted compliance guidance that explains what the change are, and provides checklists to aid in compliance with each of the changes that significantly affect the PMA community.

The MARPA compliance guidance will be mailed to MARPA members with the next MARPA Supplement.  if you are a MARPA member and do not receive the MARPA Compliance Guide with the November 25 MARPA Supplement, then please contact the Association.

Are Leases Getting Looser?

Everyone in the PMA industry knows about the challenges that arises when selling PMA parts to customers operating leased aircraft. These challenges very often arise from restrictive clauses in lease agreements that prevent the use of PMA on the asset. This can cause particular headaches when the customer is a low cost carrier (LCC) whose business model should make them the ideal PMA customer, but whose largely (or exclusively) leased fleet means that restrictive clauses (either perceived or actual) restrict use of PMA.

The good news is that lessors’ position with respect to use of PMA appears to be loosening as lessees demand the right to use PMA, lessors become more familiar with PMA, and the industry continues its shift toward ever greater PMA acceptance.

The first, and most important, step in greater PMA acceptance on leased aircraft is demand by the operators.  We have already heard at least two air carriers–Delta Air Lines and Copa Airlines–state unequivocally that they will not sign leases with “no PMA” clauses in them.  But at MRO Asia Pacific last week, we heard multiple parties–both LCCs and lessors–state that the use of PMA on leased aircraft was a common occurrence; the lessee (the air carrier) just has to ASK.

Lessors typically enter a lease negotiation with a set of boilerplate terms.  Those terms, however, are subject to change to suit the lessee’s business model and to satisfy the needs of both parties.  Ananta Widjaja from Sriwijaya Air pointed out that a lessor will never give a lessee anything outside of the boilerplate unless the carrier asks for it.  This point was echoed by a number of lessors over the course of the conference, who recognize that use of PMA is a reality in virtually every air carrier’s operation.

This is an important point for PMA manufacturers to take to their customers.  Remind air carriers that most lessors will permit PMA to be used on leased aircraft (with a few exceptions); the carrier just has to demand the right.  As lessors continue to grow more familiar with PMA, and recognize that use of PMA does not in any way devalue their asset, they grow more willing to waive the “no PMA” clauses in their lease agreements.  This is beneficial for the lessee and lessor, as the lessee can continue to realize the savings and reliability improvements provided by PMA, and the lessor opens up more potential customers by allowing the use of PMA.

A number of the LCCs at MRO Asia Pacific pointed out that they especially use PMA during the middle of the lease.  The lessor community explained that the most important part of any lease is the return conditions, because these are the terms that dictate the condition of the aircraft for the next lessee.  Lessees take advantage of this fact by using PMA throughout the term of the lease (as allowed by the lease terms) but if necessary return the aircraft to an “OEM-only” condition (such as exists, which we in the PMA community know is a fiction) during C-check prior to the return of the aircraft.

Lessors are becoming more accepting of PMA for a couple reasons.  The first, which we’ve touched on, is demand by their customers.  Lessors need to have their aircraft leased in order to realize a return on investment, so it makes sense to permit the customer to use PMA if that is what it takes to get the lease signed.

Second, lessors have begun to realize that it is simply not possible for many carriers to operate without any PMA.  PMAs, especially on interiors and air frames, are a reality for a significant number of carriers.  Some carriers simply cannot operate without the use of PMA to control costs and reliability.  Air carriers, LCCs in particular, want to control costs and improve reliability to the greatest extent possible, and this drives use of PMA. (As an aside, if anyone manufactures a PMA lavatory mirror for the lav setup on the A320 family, Tigerair out of Singapore would love to hear from you.)

Lessors recognize this.  Lessors have even started to realize that this is the case with respect to engines.  And though most lessors remain squeamish about PMA in the gas path or life-limited PMA, the simple fact is there are very very few PMA that meet this description.

Finally, lessors are becoming more flexible in allowing PMA because it is impractical not to.  When leasing older aircraft, lessors recognize that it is simply not possible to get “OEM” spares. They also recognize the significant lead times for OEM parts, when PMA parts are available off the shelf.  This makes a big difference in turn time when delivering a leased aircraft to the next customer.  Finally, lessors are beginning to understand that many new aircraft are, in fact, built new using PMA parts! It simply makes no logical (or legal) sense to demand no PMA be used when the aircraft are delivered new with PMA throughout.

There are still many hurdles for PMA in leased aircraft.  Lessors remain nervous about PMAs in engine gas paths, LLP and rotable PMAs, and PMA in high-value components.  The fear is that PMA could devalue these articles and reduce the resale or part-out value.  This means that we as a community must continue to educate the leasing community and the valuation community to allay those concerns, by explaining that PMA meets the exact same standards as TC/PC parts, and must meet or exceed the performance of the OEM part.

Lessors are also concerned about the practices of many OEM repair shops to threaten to void the warrant of an engine if it includes PMA, or pull off PMA parts during maintenance and replace them with OEM parts (and bill for it), thus depleting maintenance reserves required under the lease. These protectionist tactics are something we will continue to fight.

Ultimately, lessors are becoming more and more accepting of PMA in leased aircraft. Air carriers must remember that everything is negotiable, and that if PMA plays and important part of their maintenance and cost saving strategy, they need to demand use of PMA be allowed by the aircraft lease. PMA manufacturers should make it a point to remind their customers that lessors will allow (or at least negotiate) the use of PMA.  But they won’t allow anything if the carrier doesn’t ask.

MARPA Concludes Successful Visit to Japan

Last week, MARPA participated at the Tokyo Aerospace Symposium 2015 in Japan.  The event drew operators, part manufacturers, equipment and tooling manufacturers, and technology companies, among others, to the Tokyo Big Site convention center to discuss current and emerging manufacturing and regulatory issues, as well as display exhibitor capabilities on the trade floor.

Jason Dickstein and Ryan Aggergaard from MARPA, joined by Akira “Jay” Kato, advisor to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Aviation Industry Participation Support Project and President of JK Tech Consulting Inc., gave a panel presentation discussing PMA and MRO business trends and discussed ways manufacturers can partner with U.S. PMA companies to develop synergistic relationships that can benefit both U.S. and Japanese companies.  Many of the manufacturing companies in attendance expressed an interest in seeking out U.S.-based manufacturing partners to develop a supplier or other type of business relationship, and some stated that they had already developed supplier relationships with U.S. PMA manufacturers.

The Tokyo Aerospace Symposium drew nearly 9,000 registered attendees over the course of the three-day event, with most of those attendees participating on multiple days. The MARPA booth saw significant traffic, and we took the opportunity to speak to as many attendees as possible, explain who we are and what we do, as well as the benefits of U.S. FAA-PMA, and discuss the businesses of our members.  Several attendees asked for more information about the particulars of our members’ businesses in hopes of developing relationships.

MARPA hopes that our members will be able to participate with us–or provide us with promotional materials–in future years in Japan, because there is strong interest from the Japanese manufacturing community in developing U.S. relationships.  As we explained in our panel presentation, the opportunities provided by partnering with high-quality manufacturers that are able to offer product lines that complement your current offerings can greatly expand your business opportunities, because customers often prefer suppliers that can meet as many of their needs as possible all in one place.

MARPA also took advantage of its presence in Japan to meet with a number of air carriers to promote the values and benefits of PMA.  We were happy to find these operators are already familiar with PMA and use PMA in their fleets.  However, as with all carriers, there is still significant room for growth.  MARPA took the opportunity to explain how PMA parts provide great value and savings by solving reliability issues, quality issues, and sourcing issues, as well as offering the obvious benefit of reduced cost off the shelf.

The positive reception toward our discussion of PMA leads MARPA to believe there is still a lot of opportunity for sales expansion in the Japanese market.

There will be several representatives from Japanese carriers and suppliers at the MARPA Annual Conference in Las Vegas next week (October 28-29).  The conference will be a great opportunity to network with existing and future customers as well as discuss potential relationships with Japanese suppliers.  We look forward to seeing new business connections made!

PMA in China

One of our members recently reported that his company has been offering cabin interior PMA parts to several Chinese airlines, only to be told that they are already using CAAC PMAs for many of these cabin parts. CAAC PMAs are Parts Manufacturer Approvals issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of China.  CAAC PMAs are acceptable for installation on Chinese-registered and Hong Kong-registered aircraft but they do not appear to be currently acceptable for installation on any other aircraft.

Our member asked whether there is a master list of CAAC PMA parts that MARPA members could review.  This would help MARPA members know which parts have not been PMAed in China which in turn will help to reveal which FAA-PMA parts might be most valuable and useful to Chinese air carriers.

CHINA

As far as we know, the master list of CAAC PMAs is only maintained as an advisory circular.  Because it is an advisory circular, it is not maintained in real time, but rather it is updated annually.  This link is to the 2015 revision of the CAAC PMA Catalog.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong has a separate aviation authority.  Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department also issues its own PMAs.  Hong Kong has issued PMA authority to Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd.  There is a Schedule of Implementation Procedures between China and Hong Kong under which each accepts the PMAs of the other.

ACCEPTANCE OF CHINESE PMAs

Remember, the current US-China bilateral permits entry of US PMAs into China, but it is currently a one way only: it does not permit installation of Chinese PMAs onto US-registered aircraft. Without an explicit acceptance of CAAC PMAs through a US document (such as the US-Chinese bilateral agreement), CAAC PMAs are not currently eligible for installation on US registered aircraft as replacement or modification parts (under 14 C.F.R. 21.9).

FAA PMA FOR CHINESE MANUFACTURERS

There is a mechanism for Chinese companies to obtain US PMA.  Chinese companies wishing to set up final production sites in the US could apply for US PMA and could use that as a mechanism to create FAA-PMA parts that are accepted all over the world.  For many Chinese companies, the most efficient and effective way to accomplish this would be to partner with an existing FAA-PMA holder in the United States that has experience navigating the FAA regulatory system.

The 21st Century Model of Certification

I just got off the phone with senior leadership at the FAA and all I can say is “WOW.”

The FAA is talking very seriously about a new model of certification for the aerospace industry focusing on approval of design processes and risk-based oversight in order to better leverage the FAA’s resources to ensure safety of the growing aerospace marketplace.

I shouldn’t be surprised.  The models are there, and they’ve worked.  We’ve sat on Federal Advisory Committees that have made these recommendations to the FAA.  The industry has been talking about this for years.  But sometimes when you talk about projects for too long, you start to lose hope that they will ever come to fruition.

But this idea has the support of the FAA’s senior management and that is what will make the difference.

The new model of certification will likely rely on paradigms like:

  • Safety Management Systems (SMS)
  • A company’s library of FAA-approved or FAA-accepted methods to demonstrate compliance to the regulations
  • FAA Centers of Excellence that can assist with issues that go beyond the approved compliance libraries
  • Self-certification of compliance (following the successful model currently used for issuing TSOA)

Under this new paradigm, a company that specializes in PMAs for landing gear (for example) would have a library of compliance methods – test and procedures that are designed to show compliance to the regulations (including ways to demonstrate true identicality with an existing compliant design).  By following the compliance methods from the library, the company would be able to demonstrate compliance for future landing gear parts.  This would allow the company to more readily develop compliant designs that can be readily PMAed based on the methods that are already known to be sound.

This would involve a major restructuring of how the FAA oversees design approval.  Moving to a TSOA-like self certification should permit small businesses to react very nimbly to market forces and it allows the FAA to more readily focus its resources on real safety issues based on risk assessment.  This paradigm could be supported by FAA Centers of Excellence that would be able top provide support to the design approval community on technical issues.

This paradigm could also impose more responsibility on the design approval applicant.  It would likely be reflected in design systems that would be subject to FAA surveillance.  This would replace the current model in which designs are reviewed.  It would be analogous to the modern approval to production quality systems, in which the FAA approves  system rather than approving each individual part and product that comes out of the system.

For PMA companies, this could help companies bring part to market faster, when those parts fall within the compliance library, because it would limit the FAA’s involvement in projects where compliance can clearly be shown based on known and accepted methods.

We are currently working with the FAA on a presentation (“challenge session“) about this new paradigm; we hope to add this to the program for the 2015 MARPA Conference.

Korea PMA Workshop – a Success!

MARPA and the Korean Trade Promotion Agency (KOTRA) delivered a PMA workshop in Seoul this week.  Hosted at KOTRA Headquarters in Seoul, the workshop provided an opportunity to begin educating the Korean aerospace community about the value of FAA-PMA parts.  It also afforded the PMA community an opportunity to begin strengthening business relationships  with the Korean aerospace industry.

The MARPA Perspective

MARPA’s President, Jason Dickstein, spent the first day of the workshop laying the goudnwork for understaing the PMA process.

The room was packed with about 60 participants from all sectors of the Korean aeroaspace community.  MARPA discussed issues like the parts approval process, the safety, reliability and economic advantages afforded by FAA-PMA, and strategies for partnering with US PMA companies in order to increase trade and increase the profis of both companies.

Three of our members attended the workshop.  Representatives from Heico, Jet Parts Engineering, and the Wencor Group joined us at the workshop and had an opportunity to network with potential suppliers from Korea’s manufacturing community as well as potential customers from MROs and airlines.  

The Government Perspective

We were honored to be joined by Ha Girl Chung, the Deputy Director of Aircraft Certification for Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infastructure and Transportation.  Mr. Chung was a key negotiator in the recently updated technical implementation procedures for the US-Korean bilateral aviation safety agreement.  He reviewed the elements of Korean law that permit the acceptance of US PMA parts in Korea, and he also explained Korea’s own ability to issue PMA for parts made in Korea.  

Privately, Mr. Chung told MARPA that Korea would like to begin issuing domestic PMA.  This was foreshadowed by last years update to the US-Korean technical implementation procedures, which left a specific reservation (a place holder) for US acceptance of Korean PMA parts. 

Mr. Chung poses questions Wencor’s Mark Powell

The Airline Perspective

Asiana and Korean Air Lines were both well-represented at the event.  Hoon Yong Kim, from Korean Air, delivered a presentation about his air carrier’s PMA policy.  He explained that his carrier does not currently use critical PMA parts, but that they would like to expand their current use of non-critical PMA (critical PMAs are less than 1% of all PMAs).  Mr.Kim said that they are particularly targeting interiors parts, right now, but they would like to increase both the quantity and the scope of the PMAs that they use.

What specific qualities does Korean Air seek?  Mr. Kim explained that parts partners need to hold FAA PMA (other nations’ systems are currently not on his radar) and they should be prepared to support Korean Air in cooperative analysis.  He described one situation where a supplier helped Korean Air perform a root cause analysis. Despite the fact that the root cause was unrelated to the supplier, the supplier provided continued engineering support.  During subsequent conversations, Mr. Kim confirmed that he is looking for companies that have established systems like MARPA’s Continued Operational Support (COS) program.

The PMA Perspective

All three of the MARPA members who were on hand had an opportunity to meet and speak with the attendees.  Steve Johnson from Jet Parts Engineering added some insightful questions to the workshop.  Joe DePaoli of Heico explained that his company and his peers from other PMA companies were interested in opportunities to work with Korean manufacturing companies with specialized technologies, and also with Korean manufacturing companies that are already making certain types of parts and who could use those skills to manufacture parts that could be approved under FAA-PMA.  

Mark Powell of the Wencor Group delivered the anchor presentation at the end of the workshop, and he summarized the process that helped to ensure that PMA parts met the highest standards.  

KOTRA

KOTRA and MARPA have begun a partnership to promote US-Korean aerospace trade with a focus around PMA parts.  MARPA members should expect – and should look forward to – future oppotunities to increase their trade with Korean businesses.

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