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.
The FAA has published new draft guidance for public comment. The policy statement identifies acceptable means of compliance for certification of external modifications to Part 25 aircraft. Such modifications can include antennas, radomes, cameras, and external stores.
The draft policy explains that there has been a significant increase in the number of structural certification projects involving external modifications, especially large antenna installations. It provides guidance on selection of certification requirements within the context of the certification basis of the modification. The directions in the policy statement are each linked to existing regulations, so no new regulatory obligations are meant to be imposed.
Comments are due to the FAA by July 6, 2015.
You can email comments to:firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments can also be delivered by mail or hand to:
Federal Aviation Administration
Transport Airplane Directorate
Transport Standards Staff, ANM-110
1601 Lind Avenue SW
Renton, WA 98057
Please send a copy of your comments to MARPA, so that the Trade Association’s response can support your concerns. Please also let the Association know if this is guidance that is important to your business.
Some of you may be wondering where to find the FAA’s policy memo on design approval holder restrictions on ICA availability. Older MARPA links to the original position of that guidance are no longer valid because it has been moved. But it is still available if you know where to look!
Many MARPA members look for this policy memo because it clarifies that anti-competitive language in ICAs (restricting use of PMAs or third party repairs) is unacceptable to the FAA:
While not exhaustive, the FAA finds the following practices of using restrictive language in the ICA or through restrictive access or use agreements unacceptable under the provisions of 14 CFR §21.50(b) and related ICA airworthiness requirements:
1) Requiring the owner/operator to only install DAH-produced or authorized replacement parts, articles, appliances, or materials.
2) Requiring that alterations or repairs must be provided or otherwise authorized by the DAH.
3) Requiring the use of only maintenance providers or other persons authorized by the DAH to implement the ICA.
4) Establishing, or attempting to establish, any restriction on the owner/operator to disclose or provide the ICA to persons authorized by the FAA to implement the ICA.
The FAA has released Notice 8110.116, which stresses the importance of writing clear notes in the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS), and of ensuring that those notes are consistent with FAA policy. This new guidance can be very valuable to everyone in the industry. The value to TC applicants and holders (who create draft TCDS for FAA adoption) is obvious, but less obvious are the subtle and not-so-subtle admonitions against using the TCDS for anti-competitive effect.
One valuable element of this guidance is that it stresses certain things that should not appear in the TCDS. For example, in paragraph 6(a)(6), the guidance advises against language that limits work to a scope narrower than permitted by the regulations:
(6) Do not include requirement that is non-regulatory in the notes. For example: “This aircraft shall be maintained in accordance with the BHT-427 Maintenance manual.” This note implies that BHT-427 is the only source for maintaining the aircraft, and conflicts with 14 CFR 43.13(a) which states “Each person performing maintenance . . . shall use methods . . . or other methods acceptable to the administrator.”
This admonition is consistent with FAA guidance that has prohibited language limiting operators options in seeking repairs. E.g. PS-AIR-21.50-01: Type Design Approval Holder Inappropriate Restrictions on the Use and Availability of Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (March 23, 2012). In the past, there have been problems with manufacturer’s guidance that seeks to limit operators’ repair options, which in turn has had an adverse effect on independent repair stations who are qualified by the FAA to perform the same repairs. Other language in the guidance highlights the prohibition against anti-competitive statements by stating:
Avoid language promoting a TC holder or their suppliers as the sole source for maintenance or overhaul.
It is contrary to 14 CFR parts 43 and 21 to include a note that all repairs or modification schemes must be approved by the TC holder prior to FAA approval.
In a similar vein, the guidance also forbids use of notes that could be interpreted as statements of FAA General Policy. The obvious reason for this is because the TCDS should not be used as a vehicle for establishing FAA policy. The example that is given is useful in its own right, because this is clearly not a statement of FAA policy, despite the fact that some government prosecutors have tried to promote similar policies:
(8) Avoid notes that can be interpreted as FAA general policy. For example: “Reuse of parts and assemblies that have been involved in an accident is not permitted unless approved by FAA Engineering.”
In subsection 6(a)(10), the FAA advises against the use of brand names, but in subsection (11), the FAA requires that when a specific brand name is used, then the note must also advise of the possibility of using FAA-approved alternatives:
(11) If a specific brand name material needs to be listed, then you must state that an equivalent material is also may be approved. For example: “SOHIO BIOBOR JF biocide additive is approved for use in fuel at a concentration not exceeding 270 PPM. Use of other, equivalent material, may be approved by the FAA.”
Aviation is a competitive industry, but some companies have attempted to use FAA-approved and FAA-acceptable documents as levers to inhibit competition. The FAA has repeatedly asserted that its job is safety – not competition – and that it will not allow its approvals to be used as independent inhibitors of competition where no safety interest is served. While the main purpose of this new guidance is to standardize the layout of TCDSs, it also includes important admonitions that should help prevent anti-competitive behavior.
Many of MARPA’s PMA members also hold repair station certificates, so the entire MARPA community will be interested to know that the decade-long saga that is the Repair Station Security rule is finally coming to a resolution. The rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday.
The repair station security rules are authorized under the repair station security statute (49 U.S.C. 44924). That statute barred the FAA from issuing any new foreign repair station certificates until TSA security audits were completed for existing stations. Now that the rules are out, once TSA has audited all existing repair stations, the FAA may be able to once again start issuing foreign repair station certificates. Of course, this must be balanced against the comments of FAA Deputy Associate Administrator John Hickey who suggested last Spring that the FAA may not have the resources to process the applications when TSA issues its rules.
Throughout the foreign certificate hiatus, we’ve advised MARPA members who are interested in pursuing new foreign repair station certificates to file applications with the FAA in order to secure their place in the queue when the restrictions are lifted. In private meetings with FAA officials, we’ve been told that the FAA does not intend to strictly follow the first-in-first-out approach to these applications, but companies who desire new foreign repair station certificates ought to start working immediately in order to be able to pursue and support those applications with the FAA.
The final rule contains the following requirements:
The new rule can be found online at http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102873717486-941/TSA+Security+Rule+Published.pdf.
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:
MARPA will be there and will be reporting on the new directions proposed by the regulators.
The FAA has released draft guidance on major repair and alteration data approval, and is seeking public comment.
The guidance is meant for FAA employees/designees and is intended to provide them with assistance in the data approval process. Nonetheless, this is very important guidance for the private sector because it will likely have the effect of limiting major repair and alteration data approval only to the scope of this particular guidance.
It is important for repair stations and air carriers to review this data to ensure that it accurately describes the categories of data that must be approved, and that it provides a reasonable mechanism for approval of that data. It is equally important for PMA manufacturers to review the data, because it may affect their Instructions for Continued Airworthiness, as well as approval of repair and alteration data that is developed to respond to continued operational safety (COS) issues.
The draft guidance can be found online here: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/media/8300.X.pdf.
Comments are due to the FAA by June 12, 2013 and should be emailed to email@example.com.
Please send copies of your comments to MARPA so that we can be sure that our comments reflect your concerns.
MARPA has filed comments in response to the FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning repair stations and their ratings. Although the ratings proposal was the centerpiece of this proposed rule, many of the proposals that caused the most concern were those unrelated to the ratings element of the proposal.
This is a proposed rule that could have a significant effect on the MARPA Community. Some of the regulatory proposals, for example, could inhibit PMA growth if they are fully implemented.
Issues addressed by the wide-ranging comments from MARPA included:
A complete set of the MARPA Comments can be found on the MARPA website.
As previously mentioned on this blog, the FAA’s proposed Aviation Repair Station rule is very likely to have noticeable secondary effects on other companies, including PMA parts manufacturers. On November 5, MARPA and other members of the aviation community, as well as representatives from the FAA, met for a Small Business Administration roundtable to discuss the proposed rule.
The FAA, although not able to take comment at the meeting, offered a presentation on the purpose and intent of the rule and were available to attempt to answer any questions posed by attendees. The FAA explained that the purpose of the rule is to align FAA regulations with current industry practices and aircraft technology. The FAA also stated that they believe they have addressed the numerous comments that resulted in the rejection of similar proposed rules in 1999 and 2006.
Industry attendees expressed a number of concerns with the proposed rule. One concern is that due to the slow nature of the rule-making process, current industry practices have already moved beyond that which is contemplated by the proposed rule. There also appears a risk of creating confusion as the rule introduces inconsistent terms to the regulations.
The rule may also create significant adminstrative burdens. It would require that each of approximately five thousand repair stations renew their certificates with 24 months of the rule becoming effective. There is some doubt as to whether the FAA has the resources to process so many renewals in such a limited time frame, particularly faced with the reality that most applications would occur toward the end of the 24-month window.
The rule creates additional administrative burdens on the repair station side, as supervisory personnel will be required to be on hand to oversee work performed, changes to capabilities lists will have to be approved by the FAA or through self-evaluation, and substantial new employee training requirments are implemented.
Additionally, the new “Component Rating” propsed by the rule poses a particular threat to PMA manufacturers. Repair stations will be expected to maintain a component capabilities list in their operations specifications. Because of the burdens associated with amending and updating op specs, many repair stations may have difficulties in efficiently updating their components capabilities lists. This is especially troubling for PMA. Even though a PMA part is most likely maintained in the exact same way as its OEM corrollary part, a repair station may still be required to call out that specific PMA part number in its op specs in order to perform maintenance. Given the smaller population of PMA parts, many repair stations may not be willing to go through the op spec amendment process to add the PMA part to their capabilities list.
The cumulative effect of these additional burdens may have the result of decreasing the number of repair stations allowed to repair PMA parts even though they are technically proficient. Smaller repair stations may also find themselves priced out of business by the addtional financial costs associated with the new administraive burdens.
The FAA will accept public comments on the proposed rule through November 19, 2012. Comments should reference FAA Docket Number “FAA–2006–26408.”
The Small Business Administration roundtable to discuss the FAA’s proposed Aviation Repair Station Rule – postponed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy – has been rescheduled for Monday, November 5, 2012, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The proposed rule, which the FAA claims is necessary to keep pace with current industry standards and practices, is expected to have a secondary effect on repair station customers and business partners. This includes PMA part manufacturers. The SBA has recognized that there is significant small business interested in the proposed rule, and will typically write and file comments in response to industry concerns.
Those interested in attending the roundtable should RSVP to Bruce Lundegren via email. A dial in conference call option may also be available with advanced request. If you wish to dial in, contact Bruce Lundegren so that SBA can make the appropriate arrangements.
SBA Contact Information:Bruce E. Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel, SBA Office of Advocacy U.S. Small Business Administration 409 3rd St. SW, Washington, DC 20416 tel: (202) 205-6144 email: firstname.lastname@example.org