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MARPA Joins Industry Groups Securing Reissuance of FAA Notice 8900.380 Policy

On August 2 MARPA joined a petition signed by 12 other industry groups seeking the extension of FAA Notice 8900.380.  This effort was spearheaded by the Aviation Suppliers Association (“ASA”), the trade association that represents aircraft parts distributors. The policy serves to formalize a repair station’s ability to receive, inspect, and approve for return to service new articles that are not accompanied by an 8130-3 tag. Yesterday, the FAA responded to the petition by agreeing to reissue the policy for another year.

The FAA-EASA Maintenance Annex Guidance revision 6 (“MAG 6”) made the 8130-3 tag a requirement for new parts received into a dual-certificated repair station, even though the 8130-3 tag is not required by the regulations. Not only was this requirement contrary to the actual regulations, it also had the effect of making it difficult for distributors to sell many new parts received from a PAH, and for repair stations to receive new parts released from a PAH, because many PAH’s do not issue 8130-3 tags for new parts (something that is also not required under the regulations).

Notice 8900.380 provided a temporary solution to this issue by ensuring industry knew that repair stations could receive and inspect new parts within their ratings without an 8130-3 tag.  This was particularly important for low-dollar value parts for which obtaining a tag from a designee was economically infeasible.  This solution is expected to be permanently memorialized in MAG 7, but with only weeks before the expiration of the Notice no draft of MAG 7 has yet appeared on the horizon, and so a different solution was required. Notice 8900.380 was scheduled to expire on August 26 before a permanent solution to this tag problem was reached.

In order to support industry the FAA responded to the petition initiated by ASA and signed by MARPA by reissuing the policy in the form of Notice 8900.429.  This notice continues the policy established by Notice 8900.380 for another year, until August 9, 2018.  Hopefully this will give the FAA, EASA, and industry time to develop a permanent solution to the 8130-3 problem created by MAG 6 and memorialize that solution in MAG 7.

MARPA is thankful to ASA for leading this effort, as it allows our members–and the PMA community generally–to continue operating our business in the ways we deem most effective, whether we choose to issue 8130-3 tags with our parts or not. Implementing the optional procedures to issue 8130-3 tags described in 14 C.F.R. § 21.137(o) comes with inherent costs, and so it is valuable to not have that requirement forced onto PMA manufacturers by a de facto requirement arising from MAG 6.

You can read the full Notice 8900.429 here.

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Parts Approval in Europe Becomes a Reality

For years, PMA parts were a uniquely American product. But recent European events may suggest that others will be following our lead. BAE has been focused on obtaining design approval and production approval to create approved independent replacement parts under the European system.

On January 22, Graham Smith and Phil Beard explained how BAE has been obtaining replacement parts approval user EASA standards. They explained that BAE has been able to get European approvals that are very similar to US PMA approvals.

As with FAA PMA, they start with a significant review of a part in order to determine whether it is feasible to reverse engineer and produce the part. They perform a full reverse engineering operation. They develop their own engineering drawings. Like most modern PMA companies, they take special pains to avoid using OEM data to support their analysis in order to make sure tat they are avoiding misuse of someone else’s intellectual property.

Beard feels that the substantiation of these engineering documents is a little different from the U.S. process. He explained that EASA does not allow BAE to use identicality. Instead they must use positive substantiation of compliance with the airworthiness standards. He said that this generally comes from analysis, understanding of the part’s function, and testing.

As with test and computation PMAs in the US, the substantiation process that BAE uses permits them to fully understand the part, which in turn permits them to remedy reliability problems with the original design or make other improvements desired by the customer. Beard offered an example during his discussion; he commented that if service history has shown evidence of unexpected corrosion, then BAE might change the coating in order to better protect against corrosion.

BAE has made good use of its Design Organisation Approval (DOA) system, which allows BAE to operate under a government-controlled system in order to make findings of compliance up which the government can rely (similar to the ODA system in the United States). Smith and Beard affirmed that this system has been invaluable to their parts approval efforts.

BAE’s initial efforts appear to be largely focused on parts for Regional Jet Aircraft; but they are approved and willing to undertake work on all fixed-wing aircraft types.  This an exciting development for international trade in civil aircraft parts.

Updated Agenda for Int’l Safety Conference

Today, EASA issued an updated agenda for the 2013 EASA / FAA International Aviation Safety Conference.  The Conference is the annual meeting among EASA, FAA, TCCA and other regulators to discuss new paradigms in regulatory oversight.  This meeting directly impacts the aviation industry, which is the subject of this regulatory oversight!

The updated agenda provides better guidance on what to expect from the 2013 meeting.

Sessions that will be interesting to member of the PMA manufacturing community will include:

  • New Technology: A Challenge for Regulators
  • Safety Management and Global Harmonisation
  • Safety Continuum: Regional flexibility vs Global Harmonization?
  • Performance Based Oversight
  • Rulemaking Cooperation: towards a Regulatory Framework Based on Safety Oversight Data
  • The New Normal: Strategies for Safety Success in Fiscally Challenging Times
  • Compliance Assurance
  • Global Production: The New Reality

MARPA will be there and will be reporting on the new directions proposed by the regulators.

FAA Seeking Working Group Members for Two New Tasks

The FAA has announced that it is assigning two new tasks to the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC).

The first ARAC task is to update the regulations to better reflect fly-by-wire technology.  The Flight Test Harmonization Working Group will evaluate issues like takeoff and landing performance and flying qualities that may not be adequately addressed by the existing airworthiness requirements and guidance material. This effort is meant to improve the regulatins and also harmonize them with those of our major trading partners.  It is possible that the recommendation(s) could address either engine certification requirements, aircraft operational requirements, or both.

The second ARAC is to “Review and assess the standards and advisory material for bird ingestion requirements.”  The Bird Ingestion Working Group will evaluate the threat posed by bird ingestion and develop new standards for addressing this concern.  It is possible that the recommendation(s) could address either engine certification requirements, aircraft operational requirements, or both.

The FAA staffs these working groups with technical experts drawn from the industry.  It is important to make sure that there is a balanced representation of industry interests on each working group to help ensure that the rules proposed are fair to the entire industry.  Because the recommendations could affect certification regulations, they could have a direct affect on the PMA community.

If you are interested in being a technical expert on either of these work groups, please contact MARPA and we can proffer your application as a representative of the PMA industry, or feel free to contact the FAA directly (contact information is listed in the Federal Register notices).  The deadline for applying to the FAA for working group membership is April 5, 2013.

PMA Parts for Export to Europe – When is the PMA Part “Critical?”

Over the past few months, I have encountered a number of PMA exporters, and European PMA importers, who have asked for clear guidance on how to distinguish a “critical” PMA parts from a “non-critical” PMA part.

This is an important distinction because under the Bilateral Airworthiness Safety Agreement (BASA) that was signed between the United States and the European Union, there are three types of PMA parts that are accepted in the European Union (for installation on products certified or validated by EASA) without further showing.  Those three “acceptable” situations, as described in the BASA Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) are:

(1) The PMA part is not a “critical component”;  or

(2) The PMA part conforms to design data obtained under a licensing agreement from the TC or STC holder according to 14 CFR §21.303; or

(3) The PMA holder is the holder of an EASA STC which incorporates the PMA part.

Thus, non-critical PMA parts are directly acceptable (and they should have text on their export 8130-3 tag that states “This PMA part is not a critical component”).  So there is a significant advantage to having a clear understanding of when a PMA part is critical and when it is not critical.

This can be a little confusing if you don’t know where to look.  The FAA has used the term “criticality” to define different categories of parts for approval purposes, and to set differnt levels of FAA involvement in the approval process.  The distinct use of the term means that we need to look in the right place for the definition of “critical” that applies to our export/import transactions.

For purposes of US exports of PMA parts that are imported into the European Union, the controlling guidance is found in the BASA’s Technical Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness And Environmental Certification (BASA TIP). The definition of critical component for purposes of that document is found in Section 1.6(i) of the BASA TIP:

“Critical Component” means a part identified as critical by the design approval holder during the product type validation process, or otherwise by the exporting authority. Typically, such components include parts for which a replacement time, inspection interval, or related procedure is specified in the Airworthiness Limitations section or certification maintenance requirements of the manufacturer’s maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.

Don’t fall for the temptation draw a semantic difference between a “critical component” and a “critical part.”  The PMA acceptance procedures found in section 2.8.2(a)(1) of the BASA TIP explicitly cross reference the definition in section 1.6(i).

In light of this definition found in the BASA TIP, the question of whether a PMA part is “critical” will be based on the decision of the FAA (the exporting authority) about whether it was critical at the time of approval.

The regulatory guidance for critical parts is found in the marking requirements discussion in section 45.15(c) of the FAA’s regulations. That section makes it clear that an article is “critical” if it has a hard time specified in the Airworthiness Limitations section of the manual (instructions for continued airworthiness), like a life limit, then it is a critical part (or critical component).

Under normal circumstances, there are two methods for specifying such a limit on a PMA part. The first is during the FAA approval process (usually as an airworthiness limitation published in the instructions for continuous airworthiness), when the airworthiness limitation section associated with the part would be approved. The second is by an FAA airworthiness directive issued after initial approval in response to an identified safety issue.

Thus the best source for identifying whether a PMA article is “critical” is the PMA manufacturer, who should be able to tell customers whether there were any such hard times associated with the article as part of the approval process (or review of the PMA manufacturer’s instructions for continuous airworthiness).  If the FAA did not establish that the part was critical at the time of approval, and if they did not subsequently issue an airworthiness limit (such as through an airworthiness directive), then the part is not critical.

Does Volcanic Ash Have a Different Effect on PMA Parts in Engines?

EASA has issued an Advance Notice Of Proposed Amendment on Volcanic Ash.

Ordinarily, this might be of little interest to the PMA community, but the A-NPA is specifically seeking guidance on how to address PMA parts in engines, and whether they affect engines exposed to volcanic ash.

This could represent an opportunity to explain to EASA how it is that PMA parts support aircraft engine safety.  Or it could be used as an opportunity for foes of PMA to defame the PMA industry.  We’d like to see this used as an opportunity for sharing positive and useful information.

MARPA Members with data that helps to show the effect of PMA parts in an engine that is subject to volcanic ash exposure should share that data with EASA.  MARPA would appreciate copies of any data or arguments that our members have in order to support MARPA comments on this subject.

Advance Notice Of Proposed Amendment (A-NPA) 2012-21, Possible courses of action for EASA to address the issue of ‘Volcanic ash ingestion in turbine engines’ (28 November 2012) can be found online at http://hub.easa.europa.eu/crt/docs/viewnpa/id_189.

MARPA Conference Friday Schedule

Looking for the schedule for the MARPA Conference on Friday?  Here it is!

OCTOBER 5, 2012 – DAY TWO GENERAL SESSION
7:00am – 10:30am Registration in the main lobby; assistance and advice concerning post-conference airport transportation will be available
8:30am – 10:00am
Frederic Copigneaux, Deputy Certification Director, European Aviation Safety Agency Day Two Keynote: Europe and PMA
David Hempe, Manager – Aircraft Engineering Division (ACS), Federal Aviation Administration Challenging Regulatory Thinking
John Milewski, PMA Program Manager, Federal Aviation Administration Streamlined PMA, A New Paradigm for FAA Review of Non Safety Sensitive Projects
10:00am – 10:30am BREAK
10:30am – 12:30noon
MRO Panel: How Do MRO Priorities Affect PMA Purchasing?Moderated by Andy Shields of Wencor Joined by a panel of major MRO representatives, including:

  • Andrea Ferrenberg, Soundair Aviation Services
  • John Grimshaw, Triumph (Wellington)
Steve Jones, Lead Engineer, American Airlines Overcoming Impediments to Using PMA Parts
Air Carrier Panel: Ask Questions and Get Answers! Moderated by Steve Jones, Lead Engineer, American Airlines Joined by additional MARPA Air Carrier Members

  • Tom Komin, American Airlines
  • Daniel Ferry, US Airways
  • Ed Pozzi, United Airlines
  • Michael Rennick, Delta Airlines
  • Frank Tribble, American Eagle Airlines
  • Peter Requa, Southwest Airlines
RAFFLE! —- Must be present to win —-

SPONSORED BY AERO BRAKE & SPARES, INC.

Last Chance to Book a Hotel Room at the MARPA Discounted Rate

The MARPA 2012 Conference will be held in a month, on October 3-5, 2012 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel.  But the deadline for making hotel reservations at the discounted rate is Monday, September 3!

We have negotiated a room rate of $129.00 per night (not including taxes) for single/double occupancy. This rate applies on a limited basis for rooms up to three days before and after the event, for those who wish to extend their stay. This is the lowest rate available to any group at the Conference Hotel during this time period!  In order to qualify for this special rate, you must book your room by Monday, September 3, 2012. Click here for a link to the hotel for the MARPA room block. Clicking this link should automatically reference the 2012 MARPA discount code (which is mrpmrpa).

You can also call the hotel directly at (800) 750-0980. Make sure to ask for the “MARPA” rate in order to get our discounted rate!

MARPA Annual Conference Hotel Information – Reserve Your Room Before They Sell Out

The MARPA 2012 Conference will be held October 3-5, 2012 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel.  Please make your reservations early for the Conference: the hotel has sold out early for the past several years and we expect the hotel to sell out again this year.

We have negotiated a room rate of $129.00 per night (not including taxes) for single/double occupancy. This rate applies on a limited basis for rooms up to three days before and after the event, for those who wish to extend their stay.  This is the lowest rate available to any group at the Conference Hotel during this time period!

In order to qualify for this special rate, you must book your room by Monday, September 3, 2012. Click here for a link to the hotel for the MARPA room block. Clicking this link should automatically reference the 2012 MARPA discount code (which is mrpmrpa).

You can also call the hotel directly at (800) 750-0980. Make sure to ask for the “MARPA” rate in order to get our discounted rate!

Why is Cooperation Between FAA and EASA so Important?

Matthew Baldwin helped open the 2012 U.S./Europe International Aviation Safety Conference with a discussion of why it is so important for the U.S. and E.C. to work together on aviation safety. Baldwin is the Director of Air Transport for the European Commission, and he opened the 2012 meeting on June 11.

Baldwin noted that “these are very tough times for the aviation industry.” The economic outlook for Europe and the Americas continues to be volatile and subject to serious potential downside, and aviation is often the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the world economy. Load factors and cargo loads are improving, but even profitable carriers are still operating at razor thin profit margins. The reason why profit margins are so important is because we do not ever want to incentivize the cutting of safety. So efforts to ensure safety in these difficult times are particularly important.

Baldwin opined that nothing much is going to happen multilaterally in aviation unless the U.S. and Europe agree, first. Carbon emissions, for example, represent an issue on which there is some debate and until the U.S. and Europe can agree, he does not feel that there will be a global resolution. The industry can count on some real successes in recent efforts that have involved both the U.S. and Europe, including bilateral agreements (E.C. has recently concluded new agreements with both the U.S. and Canada), security agreements, and the continuing safety record of transatlantic aviation.

Baldwin pointed out that while the U.S. and Europe have a very low accident rate compared to the rest of the world, their accidents account for 1/3 of all global accidents because of the large number of flights in those jurisdictions. The more you fly, he explained, the more planes will crash, and that is a lot of tragedy economic loss and loss of life. The improvement curve in the U.S. and Europe is flattening as we approach zero accidents, but the constant increase in total amount of flights within the aviation industry means that a flattening curve may represent an increase in actual numbers of accidents, even as the percentage of accidents decreases. So, explained Baldwin, we need to build a safety management system where safety is proactive. An important element of this will be a ‘just culture’ in which safety reporting is encouraged and becomes a norm in the industry, without fear of reprisals. Such a just culture helps to improve hazard identification. This can help us to identify targets for safety improvements.

Baldwin concluded that “in this global business, everyone has a right to fly safely. Our strategy must be to achieve global safety standards. In safety, we are looking to eliminate global safety disparities. We are looking to implement a just culture…. and the European Commission is proud to be a key player in those efforts.”