EASA Proposes New SMS (and other) Changes to Part 21 and Part 145

EASA has issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) that would establish new SMS regulations for repair stations and manufacturers.

This NPA proposes to apply safety management systems (SMS) to Part-145 approved maintenance organizations, and to production and design organizations approved under Subparts G and J of Part 21.  It introduces elements of SMS into each set of regulations, but also makes a number of other changes in each, as well.

The proposed repair station SMS rules are published in section C of the NPA.  Many of the changes to EASA Part 145 appear to reflect terminology and cosmetic changes to make the existing regulations better reflect the terminology of SMS.  Some language from the CAMO regulations has been adopted for the repair station regulations.  There would be new regulations for airworthiness review staff.  Some changes are meant to better address risks posed by personnel fatigue and by external working teams.  Some of the oversight mechanisms (EASA Part 145.B) have been changed, and this will likely have indirect effects on the operations of repair stations.  There are also proposed changes to record-keeping requirements.  There are also significant changes to the occurrence reporting systems for repair stations.

Most distributors will be pleased to know that EASA 145.A.42 – which governs the documentation required for parts – will not change under this proposed rule.

Once the regulations go into force, existing EASA 145 organizations will have two years to modify their systems in order to comply with the new regulations.  This will likely have delayed effect on US-based EASA 145 organizations, because those organizations are required to comply with US regulations and the additional special conditions (as described in the Maintenance Annex, and also consistent with the implementation guidance in the Maintenance Annex Guidance); but the change in the EASA regulations could lead to a subsequent change in the special conditions.

The proposed manufacturer SMS rules are published in section B of the NPA.

Changes include an expansion of mandatory reporting system to require collection, investigation and analysis of all voluntary reports, in addition to mandatory reports.  It would expand the system to include requirements for reporting and managing internal errors and other hazards that do not fall under the traditional failures, malfunctions, defects and adverse effects occurrences that have been reported in the past.  While it is clearly meant well, this change could have the unintended effect of inhibiting voluntary reports, because of the new collection, investigation and analysis burden associated with these voluntary reports.

The new regulation would also impose on the production approval holder a duplicative collection, investigation, analysis and reporting obligation (currently the burden belongs to the design approval holder).

The reports made to the competent authority will also need to safeguard the identity of the reporter, which could inhibit subsequent investigation by the competent authority.

The new regulations will feature expanded record-keeping requirements and also a requirement for arrangements (like contractual requirements) that make all “partners, supplier and subcontractors” open to competent authority investigations.  This could mean that US suppliers to Airbus, for example would need to permit EASA investigators free access to audit or investigate at any time.

This is not a complete list of all of the proposed changes – it is worthwhile for anyone in the aviation industry to review these changes carefully as they may have wide-ranging effects.  There are also draft Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) for each Part in the NPA.

The public is permitted to submit comments using the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT).  The deadline for comments on this NPA is July 17, 2019.

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About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators.

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