Discussing 8130-3 Tag Issues – an update on the MAG rev. 5

Today, ASA met with the FAA to discuss issues related to the 8130-3 tag, especially as related to the new guidance in the Maintenance Annex Guidance revision five.

As many of you know, revision five of the MAG created a host of new problems for the industry.  Most of the problems arose in the Supplements.  The Supplements are supposed to be sample documents that describe what a supplement could look like.  But unfortunately, many FAA inspectors have told dual certified (FAA/EASA Part 145) repair stations that they may not diverge from the sample supplements, which means that the supplements are being enforced as if they were de facto regulations.

The FAA and EASA both agree that many of these problems were inadvertent mistakes.  They have said that many of these problems will be corrected in a soon-to-be-issued revision six.  Examples of the issues to be corrected include:

  • MAG 5 would require repair stations to only accept new parts listed in type certificate holder’s parts catalog.  The type certificate holder’s parts catalog is a commercial document.  Independently-marketed parts, like aftermarket TSOAs and PMAs, will not be listed in the type certificate holder’s parts catalog.  Furthermore, the type certificate holders’ parts catalogs are notorious for being out-of-date.  This means that newer OEM replacement parts may not yet be in the catalog.  But also, as the parts catalogs are updated to reflect changes in suppliers, perfectly good FAA-approved parts may no longer be listed in the online parts catalog if the supplier has been superseded.  For all of these reasons, this was not appropriate guidance, and the FAA and EASA have agreed to remove it.
  • MAG 5 would require repair stations to only accept new parts when accompanied by a PAH 8130-3 tag.  This eliminates from consideration parts bearing a DAR 8130-3 tag.  For pre-existing parts in a distributor’s inventory, there might be no legal way to obtain a PAH 8130-3 tag.  FAA and EASA have agreed that it was never their intention to eliminate other forms of 8130-3 tags from consideration.

The problems are also far-reaching because FAA field inspectors have told some dual-certified repair stations that they can only have one receiving standard – thus all parts received for any purpose must meet the EASA requirements as well as the MAG rev. 5 requirements.  This is their interpretation of the MAG rev. 5 requirements.  We addressed this issue to Tim Shaver and Tony Janco from FAA Headquarters (at today’s meeting) and they insist that this interpretation is wrong.  A dual-certified repair station is permitted to accept parts that meet only US standards (and not EASA standards) if it intends to use the part on a US-registered (“N-registered”) aircraft.

But some of the issues are proving more difficult to address.  For example, while accepting parts with US-acceptable traceability for N-registered aircraft is a straightforward issue, repair stations that perform component-level work and intend to tag the components with a dual-certified 8130-3 tag (both FAA and EASA) for approval for return to service are left in a much more ambiguous place when they ask whether they can accept a part that meets US airworthiness standards (but that fails to meet EASA documentation standards).  FAA is interested in providing better guidance in this area, but needs to coordinate with EASA on such guidance.

One of the problems with the MAG language is that it is based on the assumption that all U.S. production approval holders will begin issuing 8130-3 tags with their new parts.  This is a new privilege that is available to U.S. production approval holders.  The privilege is optional, though, so a number of production approval holders will simply not issue 8130-3 tags.  This means that there is even more of a burden for distributors to obtain 8130-3 tags now that this is being enforced by FAA field inspectors as a de facto receipt requirement for domestic repair stations.

One of the documents that the FAA has issued to help interpret this is FAA Order 8900.360.  This Order explains that FAA and EASA have agreed to extend the implementation date of the Sample Supplement language to October 1, 2016 (this had previously been extended to April 1). For ASA members, there is some very important safe harbor language that explains that existing inventory does not need 8130-3 tags:

In addition, both authorities have agreed that parts released by a PAH prior to October 1, 2016, will not be required to be accompanied by an FAA Form 8130-3.

The problem with this language is that it requires Production Approval Holder (PAH) documentation with a date:

Note: New parts currently in inventory must, at a minimum, have a document or statement (containing the same technical information as an FAA Form 8130-3) issued by the PAH or supplier with direct ship authority. The parts currently in inventory and documented with the required information will be grandfathered and remain suitable for installation into EU articles provided the date on the document is prior to October 1, 2016. Annex 1 provisions of the agreement regarding the export of parts remain unchanged (i.e., parts that are exported to a customer under the regulatory jurisdiction of the EU will require the export certification as detailed in the Technical Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness (TIP) independent from the aforementioned grandfathering provision). All other provisions of the MAG, Change 5, will remain in effect. [emphasis added]

Many new parts in existing distributors inventories do not meet this requirement.  The part may have come from an air carrier’s inventory, and bear air carrier certification that it was received as a new airworthy part. It also could bear PAH tags, packaging, and even inspection stamps that help to verify that it is a PAH part, but none of these might be dated (dates on such packaging and labels are not often found unless the article is subject to shelf-life-limits).  This isa new requirement, so many existing airworthy parts simply do not meet this requirement.

The FAA was very open to correcting the perceived problems in the documentation requirements.  Tim Shaver confirmed that the grandfathered-parts should have traceability consistent with current industry standards.  He was open to ASA’s proposal that ASA members should be permitted to validate a part’s eligibility for grandfathering based on whether the part was known to exist before October 1, 2016 (e.g. if it was in the distributor’s inventory).  This is one of the targeted solutions we are pursuing.

But the biggest problem with the imposition of new documentation standards – the most significant frustration for distributors – is that there appears to be no thought being given to developing a systemic approach to documentation based on the airworthiness needs of the authorities and the industry.  many of the changes add no safety value.  Despite the lack of safety value, they are adding cost and frustration to the industry.  Perhaps most frustrating of all, the documentation changes imposed by the FAA-EASA agreements threaten to devalue existing inventories.  They do this by imposing requirements that are not supported with an adequate foundation (e.g. inadequate sources for the documentation).  Distributors need a way to easily obtain the documentation when it is warranted and the part is eligible (because it is demonstrably airworthy).

The FAA is sympathetic.  Dan Elgas of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service agrees that issuing the 8130-3 tag for a part with evidence of airworthiness is an administrative task. It should not require a designee when it is based on an existing production quality system.  He felt that the current ODA provisions reflect too much burden when the 8130-3 tag is issued in a production environment.

Scott Geddie is the Manager of the FAA’s Delegation and Organizational Procedures Section.  He explained that the FAA is open to the idea of limiting the FAA’s involvement only to what the FAA needs to do. “If the FAA doesn’t need to be involved then we should step away,” he said.

One place where there is some room for positive change is in the FAA’s detailed treatment of export 8130-3 tags.  Many people are frustrated with the situation where the tag names a country-destination, but then the part needs to be shipped to another destination.  We asked the FAA whether we could list more than one destination on an 8130-3 tag if the part compliaed with the special import requirements of each country (many DARs have been told “no” by FAA inspectors on this point).  The FAA said that it has already discussed this issue and Dan Elgas suggested that the FAA is willing to entirely remove the requirement for country specific (destination) language on the 8130-3. He agrees that this is the exporters responsibility and not the 8130-3 tag’s responsibility.

There is still much work to be done, but we are starting to move things in the right direction.  I hope to provide other updates, soon!

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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 Discussing 8130-3 Tag Issues – an update on the MAG rev. 5

  1. Pingback: New FAA MAG Guidance Corrects Some Problems; But Documentation Challenges Remain | ASA Web Log

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