As the MAG 6 Implementation Date Looms, Repair Stations Adopt MAG 6 Documentation Limits

We have received multiple copies of an email from AAR from a number of ASA members. It is obvious that the letter has just gone out today (based on the number of ASA members forwarding it to us).

The AAR letter concerns “expectations around MAG 6.”  It confirms that AAR’s understanding is that they need FAA 8130-3 or EASA Form One with anything that is not a standard part.  The letter permits no deviations.

AAR is a leading company in the aviation repair station industry so their interpretation of the MAG 6 provisions is quite important.

The FAA issued FAA Notice 8900.380 to temporarily reopen the safety valve that was closed by MAG 6.  It specifically authorizes dual-certificated repair stations in the United States to accept parts without 8130-3/Form One and to inspect the parts to ensure airworthy condition (and then use them).

ASA has expressed concern to the FAA that efforts like FAA Notice 8900.380 could be ineffective because (1) repair stations already submitted their changes months ago at the behest of their PMIs and they may be unable to once again change their systems, and (2) many industry participants view the MAG as operating at a “higher level” than the Notice and therefore discounted the Notice’s effect (right or wrong – this is still a popular industry perception).

There are parts that are necessary to safe operation of aircraft, but that will not have 8130-3 tags, despite the fact that they are susceptible to airworthiness determination under normal FAA Part 43 standards.  Remember – it only takes one small part to interfere with an entire maintenance function.  I fear that firm documentation positions like those expressed by AAR could lead to one of two possible resolutions:

  • Air carriers will have to ground aircraft because the airworthy part does not have an 8130-3 tag (or Form One), and therefore can’t be accepted and installed by the repair station; or,
  • Repair stations will circumvent their own written systems in order to bring in parts without 8130-3 tags, despite language in the system requiring such a tag.

Neither of these options is desirable.  I am afraid that the (B) option will be the one that occurs most in the real world.  I fear that this will occur because the parts are thought to be good and the maintenance needs to be performed.  I am afraid of this occurrence because once companies start circumventing their written systems, those written systems start to lose their integrity.  At a time when the industry and FAA are examining greater reliance on Safety Management Systems, anything that undermines the safety culture of following the company’s written system is detrimental to the future of aviation safety.

Distributors who are supporting dual-certified (FAA/EASA) repair stations should remind those customers that FAA Notice 8900.380 explicitly permits receipt of parts without 8130-3/Form One when the repair station inspects them for airworthiness (as has always been the case); and guidance like FAA Advisory Circular 20-62E still is effective in recommending reliance on other indicia of airworthiness, such a manufacturer’s certificate of conformity.  The Notice is temporary but we are still working with FAA to establish a better resolution to the issues facing the industry.  Ask your affected business partners to ensure that their systems are consistent with FAA Notice 8900.380, and ask them to announce their willingness to accept parts for inspection when those parts bear other indicia of airworthiness.

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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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