Policy Glitch Inhibits Manufacturing DARs from Issuing 8130-3 Tags

A number of ASA members have contacted us recently to tell us that their FAA Designated Airworthiness Representatives who hold MIDO-based privileges (DAR-Fs) have been restricted from issuing 8130-3 tags for parts held by distributors.

The issue concerns a recent change to FAA Order 8100.8 (the “D” revision).  It appears that there was a clerical error in the revision that is having an effect on safety in air commerce, by restricting the ability of DARs to issue 8130-3 tags where they are needed. We have asked the FAA to examine this issue and to work with us to correct it.

Background

It is very common for distributors to obtain aircraft parts that bear indicia of airworthiness, but that do not bear an 8130-3 tag.

One of the ways that distributors support the FAA’s desire to promote the common use of the 8130-3 tag is by actively obtaining 8130-3 tags for parts that do not bear such tags.  These tags are issued to parts by FAA DARs following inspection and document review.  The inspection and document review confirms that the part meets the appropriate FAA airworthiness standards and is eligible for an 8130-3 tag.

The availability of the 8130-3 tag has become very important to the industry for a number of reasons.  One reason is because many Part 119 air carriers have provisions written-into their FAA-approved and/or FAA-accepted manuals that require the 8130-3 tag as a condition of their receiving inspection.  Such air carriers often cannot accept a part without an 8130-3 tag (even if it bears other indicia of airworthiness) without violating the requirements of their own manuals.

Over the past decade, the FAA has established policies that permit Manufacturing DARs (DAR-Fs) and Maintenance DARs (DAR-Ts) to examine a part and its documentation, and where a finding of airworthiness can be made based on this examination, to issue an 8130-3 tag to document that finding.

Originally, these DAR functions were performed under function code 8 for DAR-Fs and function code 23 for DAR-Ts.[1]  Although DAR-F functions are normally limited to PAH facilities, the FAA made a special exception that permitted DAR-Fs to issue 8130-3 tags for aircraft parts at independent distributor  facilities (NOT at the PAH facility).  When this privilege was first issued, the FAA highlighted the fact that this was an exception to the normal rule (under which DAR-Fs usually work exclusively at PAH facilities).[2]

Later, the FAA recognized that the function of issuing domestic 8130-3 tags and the function of issuing export 8130-3 tags required the same skills and the FAA merged the authority for DARs to issue both domestic and export 8130-3 tags under  one function code for each type of DAR.  This lead to both forms of 8130-3 tags being issued under function code 20 for DAR-Fs and function code 32 for DAR-Ts (these function codes had previously been limited only to export tag privileges).

This change happened as the FAA was issuing new regulations that eliminated an  earlier restriction on non-manufacturers obtaining “class III” export 8130-3 tags.  While the restriction existed, distributors obtained “class III” export 8130-3 tags under an exemption from the regulations, which is why earlier versions of Order 8100.8 made reference to an exemption.[3]

While the exemption still technically exists, it was made moot by the 2009 recodification of Part 21, which eliminated the bar against non-manufacturers obtaining “class III” export 8130-3 tags (and also eliminated the class distinctions, as well).  This change permitted distributors to apply directly to the FAA (through DARs) for export 8130-3 tags.  Now, distributors are permitted to apply for both domestic and export 8130-3 tags and they no longer need an exemption.

What they do need, however, is a function code that authorizes DARs to be able to review parts held by distributors, make a finding of airworthiness where appropriate, and document this finding by issuing an 8130- 3tag.

The Details of the Change

Recent changes to FAA Order 8100.8D are being interpreted to preclude Manufacturing DARs (DAR-Fs) from issuing 8130-3 tags for demonstrably airworthy parts that are located at the facilities of distributors.

The reason for the change appears to be based on the reorganization of the functions codes.  We are not aware of any policy change that motivates this change in the language … it appears that the change is a clerical error.

The recently-replaced FAA Order 8100.8 C read:

20 Issue original/recurrent export airworthiness approval under the provisions of

14 CFR Part 21, subpart L, for articles manufactured in accordance with 14 CFR part 21. Individual DARs must be employed by an applicant who is the PAH of the articles being exported, and/or when the applicant meets the provisions of Note 2 below.

NOTE 1: DARs may be full-time, part-time, or contract employees of a PAH.

NOTE 2: This authorization includes export airworthiness approvals for articles located at a non-PAH distributor operating under an exemption to § 21.323(b)(2).

Now however, the description of function code 20 in 8100.8D, Table 15-2 states:

20 Issue original/recurrent export airworthiness approvals for articles manufactured in accordance with 14 CFR part 21. Individual DARs must be employed by an applicant who is the PAH of the articles being exported. DARs may be full-time, part-time, or contract employees of a PAH.

The language about function code 20 being the appropriate function code to use (when a manufacturing DAR examines an aircraft part at a distributor facility and issues the 8130- tag for that part) has been removed.  In fact, the new language (with the note removed) seems to imply that a manufacturing DAR cannot issue an 8130-3 tag at a distributor facility.

This appears to be an error of omission.  We are not aware of any policy decision by the FAA that would support this change, so it appears clear that this was a simple clerical error.  In order to correct this clerical error, we recommend that additional language be added to the description of function code 20.  In light of the fact that recent FAA policy has been to permit all distributors to apply for 8130-3 tags, not just AC 00-56 accredited distributors  (making the exemption moot), it would be appropriate to broaden the language of the prior note (to remove the reference to the exemption).  Such broader language would also be consistent with current industry practice (in which certain DAR-Fs support the distribution community and also with the current regulations (14 C.F.R. § 21.327 now permits any person to apply for an export approval).

ASA filed a petition with the FAA on March 5th, seeking to have this issue corrected.  We recommended that the FAA first issue a deviation memo and then subsequently issue an 8100.8D Change One document that incorporates all of the deviation memoranda intended to be incorporated (including also the February 28, 2012 deviation memo on the use of Form 8110-14).


[1] See, e.g., Procedures for Completion and Use of the AUthorized Release Certificate, FAA Form 8130-3, Airworthiness Approval Tag, FAA Notice 8130.70 (June 15, 2001) (permitting the issuance of 8130- 3 tags for airworthy parts located at independent distributor facilities).

[2] Id. at ¶ 5(b) NOTE (stating that “in order to ensure adequate DAR resources to support the activities authorized under this notice, these domestic airworthiness approvals may be issued by either manufacturing or maintenance DARs”).

[3] E.g. Designee Management Handbook, 8100.8C Chg 1 ¶ 1407(a)(10) (Feb. 15, 2008).

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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.

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