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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 Advisory Circulars Need Your Comment

Several draft FAA Advisory Circulars are currently open for comment of which MARPA members should take note.

Today the FAA’s Engine and Propeller Directorate released draft AC 33.15-3 Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) Metallic Part Material Compliance Using Comparative Test and Analysis Method for Turbine Engines or Auxiliary Power Units. This AC is intended to provide guidance to assist PMA applicants in developing tests to demonstrate the equivalence of materials with that of the type design materials.

We will provide a more detailed analysis of this draft AC in the coming days, but want to encourage each of our members to review it and submit comments to the FAA addressing any potential problems you identify–or offering praise if you feel it is a useful document.  MARPA will be offering its own comments, so if you do not wish to file on your own, please feel free to provide us with your thoughts and we will incorporate them into the association’s comments.  These comments are due to the FAA by July 20.

Two other draft ACs are also open for comment and bear review. The first is AC 39-xx Alternative Methods of Compliance. This AC is intended to provide guidance to those applicants seeking approval of an AMOC. This guidance formerly appeared in FAA Order 8110.103A but has since been removed to a stand-alone AC. Comments are due May 30.

The other is AC 23.10 FAA Accepted Means of Compliance Process for 14 CFR Part 23. This AC provides guidance on how to submit applicant proposed means of compliance to the FAA for acceptance by the Administrator in accordance with proposed § 23.10 (which is one section of the current Part 23 proposed rule revision). Comments are due May 13.

Each of these proposed Advisory Circulars should be reviewed for potential effects on the PMA industry. MARPA will be undertaking its own reviews, but we encourage each of our members to do the same, and file such comments as they believe helpful.  All draft materials and FAA contact information can be found at https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/ac/.

If you would like us to incorporate your comments, you should email them to VP  of Government and Industry Affairs Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com

 

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.

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.

Opportunities and Challenges in Asia-Pacific

MARPA is in Singapore this week for MRO Asia-Pacific promoting all things PMA. The first day of the MRO conference agenda dedicated substantial discussion (as they usually do) to market forecast and trends. Some of these trends could be an opportunity for PMA manufacturers, but others could mean significant challenges down the road if companies are unable to adapt.

The opening session presented a discussion of trends in supply chain logistics. One of the largest takeaways was the change in inventory management practices, especially in the Asia Pacific region, from a just-in-case model, to a just-in-time (JIT) model.  This follows the trend in many other industries, including manufacturing and retail, which enable businesses to reduce costs by carrying less inventory.

PMA manufacturers are in an excellent position to benefit those customers shifting to a JIT model because PMA parts can help customers defray the costs associated with warehousing and inventory management, which is outside of the customers’ core competency. This applies to both operators and MRO facilities.  This is because PMAers have the parts on the shelf ready to go, eliminating the need for users to maintain parts inventories themselves to ensure availability.

But the shift to a JIT model also presents certain challenges in Asia Pacific, particularly for AOG situations or other scenarios demanding quick turn times. In certain markets with well-established MRO markets, like Japan and Singapore, getting parts to the customer is often a fairly straight-forward exercise and can be done overnight from the United States.  However, in less-developed markets and countries in the region, import and customs requirements can pose significant barriers, meaning delays of several days in clearing the shipment and getting the part to the customer. Those companies able to most efficiently navigate those challenges will be at a competitive advantage.

Another trend in Asia Pacific is the MRO spend focused on the narrow body fleet–namely the 737 and A320 families. The narrow bodies currently account for approximately 70% of the MRO spend in the region (and are the two largest fleets by type). This trend should continue over the next decade for two reasons: (1) a significant number of these aircraft have been delivered over the last decade (and continue to be delivered); and (2) the commonalities that exist between the current gen aircraft and the Max and neo versions of the aircraft.

Finally, an emerging trend that should be of great concern to PMA manufacturers is the shift by component and airframe OEMs toward power-by-the-hour agreements. The PMA industry has already seen the problems that are caused when OEMs use PbH agreements as engine OEMs have taken significant steps to lock up the engine spares market.  Although the percentage of PbH agreements in component and airframe is still small, it is growing. PMA manufacturers need to get out in front of this trend and remind their customers that they are a) not obliged to sign such agreements and b) demonstrate the value of PMA in terms of cost, reliability, and customer service offered by PMA. It can also benefit smaller PMA companies to form partnerships with other manufacturers of complimentary product lines to offer greater benefits to customers.

MARPA will work to stay on top of these trends. We welcome any information or questions our members have that can help MARPA continue to craft its strategy.

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.

Korean Opportunity

MARPA will present a workshop about PMA to Korean companies on August 24-25.  This workshop is being put on in partnership with the Korean Government (KOTRA and MOLIT).

We will be discussing issues that affect Korean-US business relationships and strategies for increased Korean-US trade.  MARPA members will be networking with existing and potential Korean business partners.

Registered attendees include personnel from airlines Asiana Airlines and Korean Air Lines (KAL).  This could be a great opportunity to network with some Korean customers and business partners.

We should be able to secure complimentary registration for any MARPA member who wants to attend.  If you have personnel in the Republic of Korea or elsewhere in northern Asia, then you should certainly have them on site for this meeting.

If you have personnel that you would like to register for the workshop, please let MARPA know ASAP as time is running short.

Yes, You CAN Sell FAA-PMA Parts into China!

Yes, China accepts FAA-PMA parts.

The United States and China signed a Bilateral Airworthiness Agreement (BAA) in 1991.  That agreement recognized that each authority (FAA and CAAC) had a system for production and airworthiness approval of civil aeronautical products, and that each system was sufficiently equivalent to the other to permit the authorities to accept certain approval decisions of the other.

The BAA is implemented through a Schedule of Implementation Procedures.  This schedule explains how international aerospace transactions will work.  It is meant to facilitate certain transactions and relationships.
The schedule covers, inter alia, Chinese acceptance of FAA Export Certificates of Airworthiness appliances, parts, and materials for which the FAA is the exporting authority.  The schedule explains that China will accept US export certificates of airworthiness for parts and materials when the FAA certifies that each article:

(a) Conforms to approved design data;
(b) Is properly marked; and
(c) Meets the special requirements of the importing country.

This is typically done through the issue of an FAA 8130-3 tag.

The special import requirements of China must be formally presented to the United States, and then the United States publishes those special import requirements in Advisory Circular (AC) 21-2.  The Chinese special import requirements apply to airframes, engines, propellers, and TSOA articles, but the only special import requirement that applies to FAA-PMA parts is that the part must be accompanied by an 8130-3 tag.  Since the 8130-3 tag is the medium for communicating the compliance, the 8130-3 for a FAA-PMA part can be safely annotated as meeting the special import requirements of China.

The Chinese have clarified in several places that they really mean it when they say that they are accepting PMA parts.

In order to ensure that there is no confusion, appendix D of the Schedule of Implementation Procedures specifies that the term ‘part’ means replacement and modification parts manufactured under any FAA production approval.  The appendix goes on to say that this includes replacement and modification parts manufactured by an FAA-PMA holder!

Some additional provisions are listed in the Schedule of Implementation Procedures , but none of them actually impose any additional obligations on someone who exports a PMA part to China, so long as that part already complies with US regulatory standards.

  • Critical components must have a part number and a serial number (this is already required under FAA Part 45 for FAA-PMA parts); and
  • All PMA parts must be marked with the part number and the manufacturer’s name or trademark (this is also required of all PMA parts under FAA Part 45 marking requirements).

China has also published their own advisory circular on the acceptance of FAA-PMA parts.  The advisory circular clarifies that FAA-PMA parts are acceptable for use on Chinese aircraft and reiterates that the parts should marked according to the requirements of FAA Part 45.

MARPA Efforts to Increase PMA Sales to Southeast Asia and China

MARPA is organizing the first-ever PMA Trade Mission to Singapore and China (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing) for November 3-13, 2015.

The purpose of this trade mission is to introduce air carriers and MROs in Southeast Asia and China to the concept of PMA, and to the significant advantages that they can recognize by doing business with PMA manufacturers from the United States.  We hope that this will help increase PMA sales into these regions.

The mission will begin for MARPA at MRO Asia in Singapore, November 3 through 5.  We are planning to set up a few pre-scheduled meetings as well as allowing members to interact with the MRO attendees.  After MRO, we will fly to Hong Kong to meet with air carriers on Friday.  We plan to transfer to Guangzhou over the weekend in order to meet with Gameco and China Southern on Monday.   Then we will spend Tuesday-Wednesday in Shanghai and Thursday-Friday in Beijing meeting with air carrier and MRO sales targets.

If you aren’t yet selling into Asia, then this is a wonderful way to start meeting potential customers.  If you already have business in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, then you won’t want to miss this exceptional opportunity to renew acquaintances and build more business.

Tails at Beijing Airport

Tails at Beijing Airport

MARPA has been planning this 2015 trade mission since late 2014, and we’ve enjoyed incredible support from our US government contacts.  This trade mission is undertaken in partnership with the US Department of Commerce, and we are being assisted by the International Trade Administration and the Commercial Foreign Service officers in the embassies and consulate offices.  This is a valuable membership benefit that is available to help MARPA members increase their export business so make sure you take advantage of it!

If you are interested in participating or want more information, then please contact the Association.  We’d love to hear from you.

We hope to soon be able to offer a specific itinerary and price for the mission.  Once this is announced, we will take firm commitments from members on a first-come-first-served basis until the program is full.

Wondering if you can sell PMA parts into China?  Tomorrow we will start addressing the legal standards for PMA acceptance in China!

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