8130-3 Tag Uses

I recently fielded a question about whether the 8130-3 tag can be used issued for new parts made under foreign production approval.  Generally, the 8130-3 is issued as an airworthiness approval only for parts produced under US (FAA) production approval, so the short answer to this question is “no.”  This limit is found in FAA Order 8130.21H (and its predecessors).

It is easy to see how confusion about this issue arises.  The 8130-3 (like the EASA Form One) has multiple uses.  It can be used as an airworthiness approval (left side signature) or an approval for return to service (right side signature).  And both historical usage and current usage create a series of loopholes and exceptions.

Airworthiness Approval – Left Side Signature

When you are looking at a left side signature, you have several options.  One is to use the 8130-3 as a true airworthiness approval.  When the the 8130-3 is used as a true airworthiness approval, it can only be issued for parts manufactured under FAA production approval.  Current rules only permit the form to be issued in this way by the FAA (including the FAA’s designees).  Many people mistakenly believe that production approval holders or even “OEMs” issue 8130-3 tags.  In fact, it is FAA designees who are located at (and/or employed by) those manufacturers that actually issue the 8130-3 tags.

Several rules should be applied as a consequence of the limits on 8130-3 tags:

  • 8130-3 tags can only be issued as airworthiness approvals for parts manufactured under FAA production approval.
  • Non-FAA production approval is inadequate to support the 8130-3 as an airworthiness approval
  • STC only, without PMA, TSOA or PC, is inadequate
  • Parts made under non-approved mechanisms (like standard parts) but subsequently run through a production approval holder’s system may be eligible for 8130-3 (usually this entails a part number change to differentiate the production approval parts from normal standard parts)

There are some good policy reasons for issuing 8130-3 tags for foreign-produced parts that are considered to be “approved” upon import under the terms of a US bilateral agreement, but that is not the current FAA policy, so it is not (yet) permitted.

A second option is to obtain the 8130-3 as an export airworthiness approval.  The difference between the domestic 8130-3 and the export 8130-3 is that the export 8130-3 tag also certifies compliance to special import qualifications of the importing country (note that very few aircraft parts have special import conditions so in practice the export 8130-3 tag is often based on the exact same findings as the domestic 8130-3 tag).  Export airworthiness approvals are often issued to aftermarket distributors, so they are frequently issued based on review of the part and any documentation associated with the part.  For example, a review of the part may show it to be a typical part from a production certificate holder, with the production certificate holder’s markings, and air carrier documentation may show it to have been a new part that was surplussed by the air carrier from their inventory.  This (combined with an inspection of the part to confirm it has not suffered damage or degradation) may be a sufficient basis for issuing the export 8130-3 tag.

A third option is to use the 8130-3 tag as a record of data approval for a prototype (compliance to non-FAA-approved data) but this is generally for internal tracking and does not apply to parts being released to the industry for sale. FAA guidance clearly states that the 8130-3 tag cannot be used to export a prototype part.  Prototype parts pending certification under an FAA project number are not eligible for installation on in-service, type-certificated aircraft; but upon approval of the applicable design data and completion of an inspection to validate (1) conformity to that approved design data and (2) condition for safe operation, that part may be considered new.

Note that it is common for US suppliers of components to obtain FAA-PMA (production approval) for their components so as to be able to issue 8130-3 tags for the export of those parts to a European manufacturer.  The parts are approved under US law because of the PMA, even if the European approvals for the higher level assembly have not yet been issued.  For example, there are US suppliers to Airbus who have contracts with Airbus that allow them to get PMA by licensing agreement based on the Airbus TC, and in turn are therefore able to obtain 8130-3 tags for the export of those parts to Airbus.

Approval for Return to Service – Right Side Signature

The 8130-3 tag can also be used as an approval for return to service.  You can distinguish this use by the right side signature.  When it is signed on the right side, you CAN certify compliance to non-US maintenance standards (e.g. when a repair station issues a dual certification to both FAA and EASA maintenance standards).  This is a source of confusion, because many peple in the industry see dual certified parts on the approval for return to service side of the form, and think that the same thing can be done on the left hand signature side of the form (it cannot under current policy).

Got 8130-3 Questions?

For over 20 years I have been involved in the development of the 8130-3 and its instruction in Order 8130.21, as well as the harmonization of the form with EASA’s and TCCA’s corollaries; so if you have 8130-3 questions, then please feel free to call my office to discuss it further and perhaps we can find  away to get you to the end state that you want to achieve!

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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.

2 Responses to 8130-3 Tag Uses

  1. Pingback: 2014 in review | ASA Web Log

  2. Valuable commentary – I was fascinated by the analysis ! Does anyone know where my business would be able to get ahold of a fillable a form version to fill in ?

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