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.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2013 MARPA Conference on October 23-25 in Las Vegas.
This year’s conference will review some of the new FAA programs that affect PMAs, and also offer a glimpse into the new policies and regulations that will affect the PMA community in the near future. A special highlight will be an opportunity to speak with FAA Engineering Division Manager Dave Hempe about Safety Management Systems (SMS). He is particularly interested in knowing what SMS will cost small businesses, This is an opportunity to ask questions, express your concerns, and provide information about potential costs.
And as always, we have A LOT of customers registered for the conference so there are tremendous sales opportunities waiting for PMA-company attendees as well!
We continue to add more information to the agenda about speakers and events, so be sure to check out the online Conference Agenda.
Not yet registered? The Conference Registration form is available online. Just fill it out and email or fax it. Questions? Call Katt Brigham at (202) 628-6777 and she will provide answers!
Make sure your registration reaches MARPA before the next deadline to get the current registration discount! The next deadline is Sept 21, 2013 and meeting that deadline will save MARPA members $200 (for the first-registrant from a company) to $300 (for each additional registrant from a company) over the cost of on-site registration.
You don’t have to be a member to come – non-members are also welcome to attend the Conference for the non-member rate.
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.
Last month, we asked members and readers to respond to a series of questions designed to help guide MARPA as to how the regulations are working, how they are not working, and what we can do to make the aviation manufacturing regulations work better to protect safety. Thank you to those of you who sent in emails in response!
The questions and answers were meant to support MARPA’s work as part of the FAA Safety Management Systems (SMS)/Part 21 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). Jason Dickstein of MARPA and Dennis Piotrowski of BELAC are both representing the PMA community on that ARC.
The ARC is undertaking a major project to review Part 21 to make it consistent with ICAO Standards for Safety Management Systems. The ARC also plans to recommend a number of clean-up and house-keeping changes to Part 21 – some of which have been waiting many years for an opportunity for implementation.
There is still time to answer last issue’s questions and let MARPA know what you think needs to be changed in the regulations; but this month we are giving you early notice of an opportunity to participate more directly in the rulemaking process.
In mid-February, the FAA ARC will publish Terms of Reference describing the work of each of several working groups that will be helping to craft the Part 21 language as well as developing a new paradigm for FAA oversight of systems. At that time, we will be seeking MARPA members who would like to volunteer to be on these committees. The first working group meetings will likely be in early April.
So be on the look-out for a mid February announcement about those working groups—we would like to get PMA representatives on every one of the working groups to make sure that the industry’s interest are protected—and we will be looking for statements of interest so that we can nominate some members.
Don’t forget that the 2013 MARPA Winter Meeting will be held in Washington, DC on February 12, 2013.
Expected speakers include:
Our topics for discussion will likely include PMA developments, streamlined PMA for non-safety-sensitive (NSS) parts, Instructions for continued airworthiness, air carrier needs, and tax laws and regulations with a particular affect on PMA parts manufacturers. In addition to our speakers, we will be discussing our government affairs program and strategic planning for the Association.
The Winter meeting is an intimate opportunity to work closely with the Association and the Board on topics of special interest to MARPA members.
If you would like to attend the meeting, please RSVP to MARPA at (202) 628-6777. There is no charge for registering for this meeting; and the meeting is open to all MARPA members.
The FAA is working to incorporate Safety Management Systems (SMS) elements into the existing Part 21 regulations for design and production. As part of this endeavor, they have asked MARPA to assist them in an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC).
MARPA has long been involved in SMS, having taken steps to educate the membership about the elements of SMS as well as been involved in drafting proposed regulations to implement SMS for FAA certificate holders, generally.
This new ARC represents an opportunity to ensure that the Part 21 regulations better reflect the safety needs of the industry and the public. It is a potential opportunity to remove regulations that no longer add value and to add regulations that would better ensure safety.
Following is a list of questions that we’ve developed that will help us to identify potential changes to Part 21 that might be made in the context of implementing SMS in the Part. We would appreciate your answers to any or all of them. While we cannot promise than any particular proposal will be implemented into the regulations, your thoughtful answer will help guide our participation on the ARC and will help us develop constructive recommendations to advance the regulatory revision process. Where it is relevant, separating or distinguishing your answers with respect to the design, production, or other elements of the Part 21 regulations would be helpful.
Question One: What does the FAA do that you think is not necessary to safety?
Question Two: What does the FAA require you to do that you think is not necessary to safety?
Question Three: What additional activities do you think regulated aviation businesses should accomplish to better support safety?
Question Four: What additional support or information could the FAA provide that would better support safety?
Question Five: What information do you submit to the FAA that you think is not necessary to safety?
Question Six: What additional information could you submit to the FAA that you think would help promote safety?
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has formally begun the process of implementing Safety Management System (SMS) regulations.
EASA issued the Terms of Reference (TOR) for task number MDM.055 on July 18, 2011. This task anticipates the creation of adequate rules and guidance material to permit EASA to implement a set of SMS rules.
The Terms of Reference do not specifically explain to whom the SMS rules created under this project would apply – they merely mention some of the parties to whom ICAO has recommended apply it. This is a more important omission than some people may understand, and it provides EASA with the ability to dynamically change the scope of application as necessary during the course of the rulemaking project without amending the TOR. Under current ICAO recommendations, SMS should apply to air carriers, repair stations, manufacturers and airports. In the United States, the FAA made the decision to create two different SMS rules – one for airports, and then a second one for air carriers that is intended to be later applied to repair stations and manufacturers. EASA has said that it is amending COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 2042/2003 of 20 November 2003. This regulation applies to design and production organizations as well as maintenance organizations (but not to air carriers). EASA is clearly leaving itself open to any reasonable implementation strategy.
EASA has established its own goals for the task group, as follows:
- Review the rules and AMC to clearly distinguish between essential safety elements and non-essential implementation aspects; rebalance as necessary (implementing rule to AMC or AMC to implementing rule).
- Adopt the provisions on processing alternative means of compliance, as proposed with Part-AR and Part-OR (AR.120/OR.120), to enhance transparency and support standardisation.
- Evaluate the possibility for persons to apply for the approval of such alternative means of compliance, where this is currently not foreseen in Part-AR.
- Implement in Section A the management system provisions as proposed with Part-OR to ensure compliance with the relevant ICAO standards on SMS. SMS elements shall be fully integrated with the organisations’ management system.
- As part of SMS implementation review and further develop as appropriate provisions addressing human factors, in particular to provide further guidance on how approved maintenance organisations should take into account human performance limitations, such as maintenance engineer fatigue5.
- Improve consistency in organisation approvals and review the concept of small/large organisation to align with the approach proposed with Part-OR (complex/non-complex organisation, where size is not the only criterion to be considered).
- Implement in Section B relevant provisions linked with the implementation of an SSP in the framework of the European Aviation Safety Programme (EASP), based on the proposal made with Part-AR.
This SMS project will be worked internally within EASA, although EASA has reserved to itself the right to call informal meetings with industry or National Aviation Authorities for additional feedback. This internal project mechanism is consistent with the process recently used by Japan to create its SMS rules for repair stations (they offered the proposed rules for notice and comment but did not otherwise seek input from the international community). It is different from the FAA’s approach in the United States … the FAA formed an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) made up of industry and FAA and took advice from the ARC on how to formulate the air carrier SMS rules.
EASA has a very aggressive timetable set for the SMS project. They expect to issue a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) to seek public comment in the second quarter of 2012.