EASA Developing New Guidance to Recognize Distributor Accreditation

I have just returned from a meeting in Germany at the EASA Headquarters.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss European programs for ensuring appropriate oversight of distributors.  This is part of an EASA rulemaking task that we’ve been supporting for much of this year.

In earlier meetings, proposals had been floated that would have created new and onerous obligations, requiring 145 organizations to audit and provide direct oversight to the quality systems of distributors.  This would have affected 145 organizations around the world, because of the significant number of EASA-145-accepted repair stations outside of Europe. One of our goals in this meeting was to redirect the group’s efforts to the acceptance of a program that woul dnot create new auditing obligations that yielded no new benefits.  We raised the point that there are good, existing systems out there (like AC 00-56A).

The group agreed that the proposal was getting too onerous, and so the group developed some new guidance to replace it that will recognize the existing systems used to provide oversight to distributor quality systems.  The new guidance will encourage participation in the existing systems and permit companies that are ‘doing the right things’ to continue operating the way that they operate today.

Under the proposal, there would be a new EASA 145.A.42(a), and the other elements of EASA 145.A.42 would be incremented.  The new section will clarify that EASA-145 organizations and other 145 organizations subject to EASA jurisdiction shall establish procedures for the acceptance of components and material.  EASA feels that existing regulations, like 145.A.65, already imply a requirement for such procedures; this addition merely clarifies the requiremetn for 145 organizations.

The proposal also adds advisory guidance describing common industry methods for ensuring that the distributors from whom a 145 organization purchases will have adequate quality systems in place.

The result would be that AMC 145.A.42 would look like this (note that the new text is in green):

145.A.42 Acceptance of Components (to be proposed)

(a) The organization shall establish procedures for the acceptance of components and material.

(b) All components shall be classified and appropriately segregated into the following
categories:

1. Components which are in a satisfactory condition, released on an EASA Form 1 or equivalent and marked in accordance with Part-21 Subpart Q.

2. Unserviceable components which shall be maintained in accordance with this section.

3. Unsalvageable components which are classified in accordance with 145.A.42(d).

4. Standard parts used on an aircraft, engine, propeller or other aircraft component when specified in the manufacturer’s illustrated parts catalogue and/or the maintenance data.

5. Material both raw and consumable used in the course of maintenance when the organisation is satisfied that the material meets the required specification and has appropriate traceability. All material must be accompanied by documentation clearly relating to the particular material and containing a conformity to specification statement plus both the manufacturing and supplier source.

(c) Prior to installation of a component, the organisation shall ensure that the particular component is eligible to be fitted when different modification and/or airworthiness directive standards may be applicable.

(d) The organisation may fabricate a restricted range of parts to be used in the course of undergoing work within its own facilities provided procedures are identified in the exposition.

(e) Components which have reached their certified life limit or contain a non-repairable defect shall be classified as unsalvageable and shall not be permitted to re-enter the component supply system unless certified life limits have been extended or a repair solution has been approved according to Part-21.

In addition, the new proposal would include advisory and guidance material designed to support and guide the efforts of 145 organizations.  The existing AMCs for 145.A.42 would be renumbered to reflect and be consistent with the renumbering of the regulation.

AMC 145.A.42 (a) (to be proposed)

The procedures for the acceptance of components should have the objective to ensure that the supplied components or material are in satisfactory condition and meet the organization requirements. These procedures may be based upon:

a)    incoming inspections which includes:

1) physical inspection of those components, parts or material that can be satisfactorily inspected on receipt;

2) review of accompanying documentation and data, which should be acceptable in accordance with 145.A.42(b)

b)    supplier evaluation and control

The point of this new guidance is to make it clear that supplier evaluation supports the 145 organization’s receiving inspection elements by providing a greater level of trust in the documentation that accompanies the parts, which in trun permits the 145 organization to comfortably rely on that documentation.

The most interesting part of this guidance is found in the draft Guidance Material (GM).  This GM defines supplier evaluation and control as consisting of audits to check certain elements.  Those elements were drafted to be consistent both with FAA AC 00-56A and also with JAA TGL 46, which was issued by the now-defunct Joint Aviation Authorities to encourage  the use of accredited distributors.

GM 145.A.42 (a) Supplier evaluation and control (to be proposed)

(a)  The following elements may be checked for the evaluation and control of a supplier’s quality system, as appropriate to ensure that the component is in satisfactory condition:

  1. Availability of appropriate up to date regulations, specifications and standards.
  2. Standards and procedures for training of personnel and competency assessment.
  3. Procedures for shelf-life control.
  4. Procedures for handling of electrostatic sensitive devices.
  5. Procedures for identifying the source from which components and material were received.
  6. Purchasing procedures identifying documentation to accompany components for subsequent use by approved Part 145 maintenance organizations.
  7. Procedures for incoming inspection of components and materials.
  8. Procedures for measuring equipment control that provides for appropriate storage, usage and calibration when such equipment is required.
  9. Procedures to ensure appropriate storage conditions for components and materials that are adequate to protect the components and materials from damage and/or deterioration in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations and relevant standards.
  10. Procedures for adequate packing and shipping of components and materials for grating protection from damage and deterioration, including procedures for proper shipping of dangerous goods. (e.g. ICAO and ATA specifications)
  11. Procedure for detecting and reporting of suspected unapproved components.
  12. Procedure for handling of unsalvageable components in accordance with applicable regulations and standards.
  13. Procedures for batch splitting or redistribution of lots and handling of the related documents.
  14. Procedure to notify purchasers of any components that have been shipped and later been identified to not conform to the applicable technical data or standard.
  15. Procedure for recall control to ensure that components and materials shipped can be traced and recalled if necessary.
  16. Procedure for monitoring the effectiveness of the distributor’s quality system.

(b)  Suppliers certified to officially recognize standards that have a quality system that includes the elements specified in (a) may be acceptable; such standards include:

  1. EN/AS9120 and listed in the OASIS database
  2. ASA-100
  3. EASO 2012
  4. FAA AC00-56

Note that this GM provides a list of elements that one should expect in a distributor’s quality system.  The list of elements is consistent with the list of quality system elements found in AC 00-56A.

The GM also specifies that certain standards (standards for which EASA had data to confirm) are considered to meet the  quality system elements  of the Guidance, and that therefore distributors accredited/certified to those standards would be considered to be acceptable under the guidance.  AC 00-56 was published by the FAA, but the AC 00-56 list has become an international list of companies around the world that have adopted the quality system elements of the Advisory Circular.  By endorsing AC 00-56, the European guidance would permit the continued reliance on the FAA AC 00-56 accreditation list.  This list has become an important tool in the evaluation of potential suppliers.  European recognition permits companies selling to European 145 organizations to continue doing what they are doing if they are doing the ‘right’ thing, and it provides very clear guidance on expectations for distribution companies that have not yet implemented effective quality systems.

The group also felt that an additional GM is necessary – one that clarifies an obligation to specify the documentation required for receipt at the time tat the part is ordered.  One of the motivations for this was data among the 145 organizations in the group suggesting that one of the most significant reasons for rejecting a component in Europe is because the documention was not correct or did not meet the 145.a.42 requirements.  The group felt that there is a lesser likelihood of getting the wrong documentation when the buyer specifies the documentation expectations.  This should help European Part 145 organizations better communicate their regulatory documentation requirements to sellers.

GM to 145.A.42 (b) (to be proposed): The part-145 organization should ensure that when they order components or material they specify the required documentation in accordance with 145.A.42 (b).

The new rule and guidance still have to go through internal EASA coordination and review.  If the draft survives that coordination process, then it is possible that it could be issued to the public for comment in the Spring of 2012.

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About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

One Response to EASA Developing New Guidance to Recognize Distributor Accreditation

  1. rabina17 says:

    Thanks for that Jason. There is still this issue about incident related components which the FAA and EASA don’t view the same. Incident related parts can be sent out for bench check or re-certification under current FAA legislation and legally returned to service as “airworthy”. There is nothing to physically prevent such parts re-entering the European domain once they have been appropriately tagged. The conundrum is that EASA states that incident related parts need to be returned to the OEM or one of their approved agencies for overhaul to determine their suitability for return to service which is a different level of analysis than the FAA feel is necessary.

    Appreciate your efforts in getting EASA to see the sense in handling distributors as the FAA have done with 00-56A and ASA-100.

    Peter Lewis – Alpine Air Support

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