MARPA had the opportunity this week to attend the 2016 FAA-EASA International Aviation Safety Conference that was held in Washington, DC. The conference provides an opportunity for the regulatory agencies and industry to get together to discuss emerging issues in aviation safety and strengthen the cooperation between both the regulators themselves as well as the regulators and industry.
One notable panel discussed performance-based regulations (PBR) and their development, implementation and oversight as a part of the ongoing safety management adoption. The goal of PBR is essentially to retain the high level requirements and clearly establish what those high-level regulations are trying to achieve, while clearing out more detailed prescriptive regulations. Those detailed regulations would then be replaced by industry consensus standards.
In theory, this should clear the way for innovation by focusing more on ensuring a satisfactory outcome (that complies with the regulations) is the result, rather than focusing on prescriptive compliance-based rules. (How this exactly squares with a safety management system focused on systems and processes rather than the outcome per se is a conversation for another day.) Performance-based regulations can free the hands of regulated parties and avoid the trap of innovation stagnation in which companies are forced to design or produce in only limited ways in order to comply with the regulations.
Although moving to a PBR approach may be a laudable goal, the next panel demonstrated how challenging it may be for regulators to break free of deeply ingrained compliance-based approaches to oversight. Relevant to PMA manufacturers, the “fast-moving technologies” panel spent a significant amount of time discussing certification of projects using additive manufacturing techniques.
In theory, a PBR approach would be ideal for approving parts manufactured using emerging technology like additive manufacturing (AM). If a part can be produced using AM techniques (like 3D printing) that meets all the design requirements (dimensions, material composition, durability, etc) of a part that is traditionally machined, an outcome-focused approach like PBR claims to be should have no problem approving that part. Conversely, if a 3D printed part cannot be made to conform to the approved design, our quality assurance systems reject the part and we go back to the drawing board.
However, it became clear during that panel that we can expect to see more of the same compliance based review of processes in seeking to obtain approval of parts manufactured using emerging technologies like AM. Of course to borrow from Captain Renault I was shocked, SHOCKED to find that the OEM panelist expressed skepticism that “sub-tier” suppliers or those in the aftermarket were capable of producing approved parts using these methods. But of greater concern was his statement that the regulators might also question that ability.
Part of this concern on the part of the regulators arises from the fact that the regulators themselves do not fully understand technologies like AM yet. The FAA is currently working with industry to determine what controls will need to be in place and what the oversight requirements will be with respect to AM. It will therefore be very important for any PMA manufacturer seeking to use new techniques to manufacture parts to engage the FAA early in the process and demonstrate to the FAA its competence with the technique. This may involve educating the FAA in some cases (and refuting the implications of some larger OEMs that only they know the “special sauce” of new technology).
This much was supported by FAA AIR-1 Dorenda Baker, when she explained that the key to getting approval when relying on new technology is ensuring an understanding on both sides. The FAA needs to be brought into the process very early on. When the FAA is brought in at the last minute, problems and confusion can arise, because what might seem clear to the applicant, who has been working with the technology for months or even years, can seem confusing to the regulator seeing it in action for the first time. Ms. Baker explained that we don’t want questions being asked for the first time, or engineers trying to understand new processes, at the time of certification. We, as applicants relying on new manufacturing techniques, need to engage the FAA early and often.
Of course this is somewhat inconsistent with a performance-based approach. As we mentioned above, if the goal of PBR is to ensure an outcome that satisfies high-level regulations, it should be less important how we get to the result than that we obtain a satisfactory result. A need on behalf of the regulator to understand fully the processes by which we obtain the result is more consistent with systems oversight (their stated goal) but doesn’t square perfectly with a PBR approach.
Nonetheless, it thus becomes clear that the PMA industry will have to fight this battle of fast moving technology on two fronts: First, we will have to (again) battle against an OEM-driven (mis)perception that only OEMs are capable of understanding and safely applying emerging technologies like additive manufacturing. Second, we will have to work very closely with the regulators to continuously demonstrate our competence and expertise in applying these technologies, and in effectively implementing systems that consistently produce the desired outcome.
There is a lot happening right now; from fundamental shifts in the role regulators play to the way we design and manufacture parts. By frequently engaging with the regulators we are able demonstrate our competence and abilities (simultaneously refuting any implications by competitors to the contrary) and keep the regulators closely engaged so that the certification process moves smoothly and we are able to nimbly adapt to changes as they happen.
MARPA will continue to keep you updated as old regulations change and new regulations emerge.
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:
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.
One of the best classes I attended at the AVM PMA Summit in London last week was focused on management skills for an engineering environment.
George Ringger lead a session focused on the difference between decisions and goals in the manufacturing business environment. Ringger has taught at Embry-Riddle and advised business on manufacturing and continuous airworthiness subjects in both the quality and engineering disciplines, so he has seen what works and he has seen what does not work.
He began by explaining that a goal is something you are trying to achieve, and decisions are the choices we make as we try to meet our goals. Using this simple dichotomy as the basis, he laid out a very-effective system for effective and successful management in the modern aerospace workplace.
Ringer presented a case study in which the management goal was to reduce development costs. The business decided to go from three prototypes to one prototype. This should have saved 66% on the prototype costs, but the prototype failed and this resulted in a 12 week delay in the program while a second prototype was built.
Other examples of poor decisions can include using structural analysis when testing is faster and less expensive (or vice-versa). It is important to use the right approach to PMA development! because the correct choice can vary with the parrts.
In case study number two Ringger discussed a. PMA company that reverse engineered a nose landing gear bushing. In fact, the nose landing gear featured 12 bushings that were identical except for dimensions (particularly the materials were identical). By limiting the analysis to only one bushing, the company missed an opportunity to PMA all 12 of the bushings at the same time.
In case study number three, Ringger discussed a. PMA company that reverse engineered a part that perfectly matched the OEM part. But the customer had issues with premature failures on the OEM part, so the failure to engineer the part from the ground up meant that the PMA manufacturer failed to redesign the part and correct the features leading to customer disappointment. This shows that it is important to know what your customer’s concerns are and to choose a design method they permits you to meet the customer’s needs.
By using effective management, Ringger explained how to overcome limitations in order to develop an internal user-centric system. The purpose of this system is to ensure that your parts designs will meet customer needs and desires. He also discussed strategies for setting SMART goals. He discussed his SMART squared approach to goal setting in order to motivate engineers to make smart decisions and achieve results. Goals should feature these ten qualities:
In his program, Ringger explains how each of these elements help to ensure that you establish effective goals, make decisions that support your goals, and develop work assignments to support the decisions.
This was one of the best presentations I have seen for managing engineering staff. We have already reached out to Ringger to invite him to speak at the 2014 MARPA Conference in Las Vegas. Everyone who manages a technical staff should make plans to attend his session!
The PMA industry has an opportunity to affect the FAA reporting rules for manufacturers!
Design approval holders are required to report certain occurrences to the FAA under 14 C.F.R. 21.3. That rule requires reporting to the FAA of any failure, malfunction, or defect in any product or article that could lead to (or that results from) any occurrence on the FAA’s list of occurrences found in section 21.3(c).
The current rule was originally designed to provide the FAA with information that the FAA needs in order to be able to take appropriate mandatory safety actions, like issue Airworthiness Directives (see Reporting Requirements for Manufacturers; Failures, Malfunctions and Defects, 35 Fed. Reg. 3154 (February 18, 1969)). But the rule has been accused of being both overbroad (it requires reporting of occurrences that would never be used by the FAA in relation to mandatory action) and under-inclusive (it also fails to require reporting of unlisted occurrences – and some unlisted occurrences could be safety issues about which the FAA ought to be receiving reports).
The FAA’s Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) will be proposing sweeping changes to the FAAAA’s manufacturing rules, including changes that implement design organizations (comparable to the European DOA Part 21 subpart J regulations) as well as changes that would more clearly implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) requirements for manufacturers. Part of this process is expected to include changes to 14 C.F.R. 21.3 in order to correct some of the existing issues, better synchronize the data requirements with the new SMS obligations, and make the rule more responsive to the FAA’s evolving data needs.
The sub-team working on 21.3 kicked off their first meeting yesterday. The group highlighted the belief that the current 21.3 too often requires reporting of occurrences with low associated risk, and this can mask the higher risk occurrences in a way that undermines safety. They also discussed high risk occurrences that may not meet the 21.3 list criteria and therefore may not be reported to the FAA. As a consequence, the group discussed two different options – one was changing the list and the other was removing the list entirely and replacing it with a reporting criterion that would more accurately influence reporting to the sort of reports that are most useful to the FAA in pursuing its safety mission. The argument in favor of the latter option was that today’s aircraft design and safety management practices have evolved such that the 21.3 list of occurrences is no longer the most efficient way to describe reportable items.
MARPA is an active part of this group. If you have thoughts about 21.3, please share them with your trade association, so we can make sure your good ideas are considered! This can include examples of how you have implemented reporting in your facility, examples showing when 21.3(c) is too broad or when it is too narrow, and thoughts about the best way to improve the reporting regulation.
MARPA continues to work diligently in support of the FAA’s Part 21 ARC. One of the ARC working groups is focused specifically on performing a cost benefit analysis of the ARCs proposals. We previously posted on the blog a request for our members’ input on what data we should be tracking in order to best estimate costs. Although we have received a handful of responses to date, we still need your feedback to ensure we have an accurate cost assessment as possible!
Our members have reported the following measurable data points
The data your company is able to measure may be similar, or may be different. In either case, we want to hear from you to provide a useful and usable data survey. Remember, at this time we are NOT collecting actual numbers, but merely attempting to determine what data we can reasonably expect to collect in the future to help with our cost benefit analysis. Future data will be collect anonymously to protect our members’ competitive interests while also guarding against costly regulation.
This information will help us to develop metrics for measuring industry costs of regulatory compliance. We will then have a baseline to which we will compare the costs and benefits of the ARC’s proposals. This is industry’s opportunity to provide detailed feedback regarding the costs of FAA regulations. The FAA will be joining us at the MARPA Conference in October, so it is important that we have investigated and reviewed this data prior to that time.
If you have not yet taken the opportunity to respond with what sort of cost data your company tracks, please take a few minutes and let us know. This will go a long way to helping us ensure the Part 21 ARC develops sound and cost effective proposals to deliver to the FAA. Email responses to MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As many of you know, MARPA is working on the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) that is rewriting the manufacturing rules to address Safety Management and Design Organization elements. One of the things that the FAA wants to track is the cost-benefit data, to ensure that the project will reflect a positive benefit for the industry (as well as for the FAA).
To this end, we are seeking data about what we should track to estimate costs. We would appreciate answers to the following questions (note that we are seeking information about categories of costs, and not yet seeking numbers for costs):
At this time, WE ARE NOT COLLECTING ANY NUMBERS!! We are trying to identify what are the right questions to ask. This information will be used to develop a certification cost survey for the membership, and THEN we will be in a position to ask for numbers. When we ask for numbers, we will do it in such a way that individual company data will be protected.
[so you should be planning on eventually getting us hard numbers in these general areas]
Please get us your answers ASAP. We will plan on asking for this sort of data again in the August MARPA Supplement but it would be useful to get the initial data by the end of July.
The FAA has asked to use our Conference as an opportunity to collect industry data, so we will be developing data models during the summer in order to support those efforts. We are hoping to develop metrics for measuring our industry’s costs between now and then, so that by the time of the MARPA Conference in October, we will have a robust model upon which to rely.
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.
We have written recently on this blog about the important SMS/Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) and corresponding Working Groups in which representatives of MARPA are now participating. The result of this ARC promises to affect each and every manufacturer of PMA in some way or another. MARPA will therefore be there every step of the way, working to ensure that the interests of PMA community are protected. But in order to ensure that we guard our members’ interests, we will need your assistance and feedback! We are therefore asking MARPA members to tracks and share with us the cost of regulatory compliance.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to attempt to fit the burdens of a proposed regulation to the scale of businesses. This recognizes the fact that the same regulatory burden that may simply be the cost of doing business to a large multinational corporation may be crippling to a small company. Recognizing the extreme importance of scalability in the promulgation of the new Part 21, one of the four Working Groups is dedicated solely to undertaking a Cost-Benefit Analysis of the proposed regulatory changes.
This is where MARPA member feedback will be of extreme importance. The Cost-Benefit Analysis Working Group needs data to better understand what the current cost of compliance to small business actually is. This will function as a baseline from which to determine the benefits and costs of the proposals generated by the other three Working Groups. As the Working Groups craft the new regulations they will turn to industry to obtain data demonstrating the effects of the proposed changes.
It is vital that MARPA members participate in providing data to the Working Groups as the new proposals are developed and those assumptions tested against hard data. Hidden costs of compliance with regulations, under-estimations of costs, and over-estimations of benefits have the potential to result in an overly burdensome regulation. The participation of MARPA members in providing data to the ARC Working Groups will go a long way toward shaping an effective regulation while minimizing the burden on small businesses.
Input from members helps MARPA to more effectively advocate for policy changes that benefit the PMA community. Responses to requests for information such as this—or for data regarding the Streamlined PMA Process—helps MARPA to focus its resources to optimize benefit to the membership.
MARPA looks forward to the participation of its members in shaping the future of Part 21. Although the Working Groups have not yet begun to approach industry with requests for data, MARPA would like to get started early. If your company tracks the cost of regulatory compliance, whether in dollars, personnel, man-hours, paperwork, or any other metric, we want to hear from you. Your confidentiality is important to us, so MARPA will only report data in the aggregate; no individual data will be released and no company names will be revealed. You can send this data to MARPA Associate Counsel Ryan Aggergaard at email@example.com. Please also send Ryan an email if you have any questions or would like to start tracking compliance costs.
The SMS/Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) opened a three day meeting this morning in Rosslyn, Virginia. The meeting expands the scope of the ARC to include four working groups that will develop the new rules for certification and approval of aviation products and articles. MARPA staff attended the live meeting and MARPA members participated by dial-in teleconference. This project will definitely affect every MARPA member and could be the most important rulemaking activity affecting the PMA community in over 60 years!
Dorenda Baker is the Director of the FAA Aircraft Certification Service. Ultimately, the ARC reports to her. Baker explained that the FAA is committed to taking the ARC’s recommendations and moving forward with those recommendations to craft a rule that meets our ICAO SARP obligations (SMS or Safety Management Systems). She stressed that we need to take into consideration how this rule will apply to both large and small companies. It needs to achieve safety goals for everyone.
Some of the points that Baker raised included these:
MARPA has been centrally involved in drafting the working group charters in order to ensure that the ARC recommendations will support the next generation of safety management. Baker’s commitment to protecting the interest of both small companies and large companies is encouraging; but the details will be important to the PMA community and there is plenty of opportunity to see a rule that does not work well. With this in mind, this could be one of the most important projects that MARPA has ever worked-on for the future of the PMA community. MARPA will remain at the heart of this process in order to ensure that the interests of the PMA community are protected.
Have you ever wanted to influence the regulations that affect your business? Well, NOW is your best opportunity to do so!
In January, we provided early notice to the PMA community that the FAA would be seeking industry experts to volunteer for working groups that will be rewriting the manufacturing regulations. Now, we are collecting names and submitting them! This is a tremendous opportunity to make sure that the regulations reflect the current state of the art for certification and approval processes.
The Part 21/SMS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) is undertaking a major project to review Part 21 and (1) to make it consistent with ICAO Standards for Safety Management Systems, (2) add regulations to create a design organization and (3) update the regulation as necessary.
The Part 21/SMS ARC has recently completed charters for four (4) working groups that will be helping to craft the Part 21 language as well as developing a new paradigm for FAA oversight of systems. These worknig groups will report to the ARC, and will be where the real ground work occurs in changing the manufacturing regulations. We are seeking MARPA members who would like to volunteer to be on these committees. The first working group meetings will likely be April 3-5 and working group members will need to support the working group efforts through 2013 (final Reports are due December 10, 2013).
The four working groups are:
(1) Design Organization: This working group will develop regulations for design organizations, similar to the DOA regulation in Europe. Design organizations will have more safety responsibility and accountability, and in turn would receive greater privileges. The goal of this group will be to help the FAA create design organizations that can serve as the backbone for safety management.
(2) Safety Management Systems (SMS): This working group will help to integrate requirements for safety management systems in to the FAA manufacturing regulations. The goal of this group will be to better align the FAA’s regulations with the requirements of SMS.
(3) Oversight: This working group will develop a new model for FAA oversight that will better reflect risk management in an era with shrinking government budgets and expanding industry need for government approval and/or certification. The goal of this group will be to help the FAA create a program to ensure a consistently high level of safety with a dwindling resource pool.
(4) Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA): This working group will examine the work of the first three working groups and will help develop the data and other tools that the FAA will need to perform a cost-benefit analysis. The work of this group will be critically important to ensuring that the product from the entire ARC makes good safety sense and good economic sense.
This effort could reflect the most significant change in the U.S. aviation manufacturing regulations in over 50 years. The results of this effort will touch all of us. If you think you would like to serve on one of these working groups then please contact us immediately so we can send you more information. We need to submit our recommendations to the ARC by the end of next week, so we need to hear from you by not later than Thursday, March 7.