Can a Production Approval Holder (PAH) Issue a New 8130-3 Tag for a Part?

One of ASA’s members called us about an interesting issue. He asked whether a production approval holder could accept a new part back into its quality system, check it to confirm that it still conforms to the FAA-approved design, and then obtain a new 8130-3 tag for the part. The short answer is “Yes,” a manufacturer can obtain a fresh 8130-3 tag, as long as it meets the requirements specified in FAA guidance.

In the 1990s there was much discussion among the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) about the issue of parts being returned to production approval holders. The prevailing wisdom in those days was that once a part left a production approval holder’s quality system, it could not re-enter the quality system. Production approval holders wanted the ability to be able bring certain (new, unused) parts back into their quality system for certain limited purposes. This gave rise to a string of guidance changes that permitted new, unused parts to be returned back into a production quality system under limited circumstances.

The operative guidance currently resides in FAA Order 8130.21 paragraph 2-9. This guidance explains that a production approval holder may take the following steps in order to receive a part and make it eligible for a new 8130-3 tag.

  • The received article must have been produced by the production approval holder, under the production approval;
  • The received article must be returned to the production approval holder in new, unused condition;
  • The production approval holder must have a procedure for accepting articles back into its quality system (after having been released from the system);
  • The production approval holder must perform tests and inspections (in accordance with procedures contained in the its quality system) to determine the returned article still meets the original FAA-approved design under which it was produced and that the article is still in a condition for safe operation;

If these conditions are all met, then the article is eligible for a new (domestic airworthiness) 8130- 3 tag. This is a brand new 8130-3 tag, and it would replace any previous tag.

Note that although the title of the FAA guidance uses the word “reissuance,” the guidance does not require that a prior 8130-3 tag have been issued.  Thus, a past part that was released to the industry without an 8130-3 tag could be eligible for a new 8130-3 tag if it met the conditions, above.

It  is important to recognize that the production approval holder’s tests and inspections are the same sort of tests and inspections described in 14 C.F.R. § 21.137(e) (requiring inspection and test procedures to ensure that each article conforms to its approved design). They are not the sort of tests and inspections authorized in Part 43, and this language in the order does not authorize a production approval holder to perform Part 43-regulated work except to the extent that it is already authorized under 14 C.F.R. § 43.3(j) (rebuilds and alterations).

If a prior 8130-3 tag was returned with the article, then the originator should retain that form on file with (or have reference to) the new 8130-3 tag. The originator is the FAA-designee or organization designation authorization (ODA) holder who signed the prior 8130-3 tag. This is a slight change from prior revisions levels of the guidance, which recommended that the production approval holder retain the prior 8130-3 tag.

This is not new guidance. It was originally published in Revision “D” of order 8130.21, in 2004. Before that time, it was normal for the manufacturing community to believe that once a part had left the production approval holder’s quality system, it could not return to the quality system for a new tag unless the original tag had been lost. The guidance did permit an article to be returned to the production approval holder for replacement of a lost tag (which resulted in an abnormally high number of “lost” tags).

When would a manufacturer want to receive parts and reissue a new 8130-3 tag? The 2004 publication provided examples (which were subsequently stripped in order to clarify that the examples were not the only permissible circumstances). The examples proposed were in overstock situations (a distributor or airline wanted to return unneeded articles) or return of a wrong part number (either the customer ordered the wrong article or the manufacturer sent the wrong article). In either case, the manufacturer may wish to create a ‘fresh’ tag for the next customer to take the part, and that ‘fresh’ tag can be authorized under section 2-9 of Order 8130.21H.

What if you need an export 8130-3 tag? That is no problem. The export 8130-3 tag can be issued as a follow-on to the domestic tag, using normal procedures for issuing an export 8130-3 tag.

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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 Can a Production Approval Holder (PAH) Issue a New 8130-3 Tag for a Part?

  1. Jason Dickstein says:

    In an email, a member asked about an apparent conflict with FAA Order 8120.22, para 8-2. The last sentence of that paragraph says:

    Therefore, the receiving airline, repair station, or distributor is responsible for ensuring that any maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, altering, etc., on such products or articles will be performed by persons authorized under part 43.

    The member explained that he had been told that the “etc.” includes the inspections mentioned in FAA Order 8130.21H, but the 8130.21H inspections are regulated (and required) under 14 C.F.R. 21.137; whereas the “etc.” really has to be limited to Part 43 work, because personnel authorized under 14 C.F.R. 43.3 are authorized to perform Part 43-regulated work, but Part 43 does not authorize them, per se, to perform 14 C.F.R. 21.137 inspections and tests.

    Another way of looking at it is that Part 43 regulates maintenance, preventive maintenance and alteration, and these tasks must therefore be performed in accordance with part 43 restrictions. This is what Order 8120.22 para 8-2 is saying. But Order 8130.21H para 2-9 specifically authorizes a production approval holder with appropriate procedures to accept new, unused parts that have previously left the quality system and to perform 21.137 tests and inspections to revalidate their initial airworthiness (making conforming parts eligible for an 8130-3 tag).

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