ASA Members Confirm that Designee Oversight is Restarting

We have been communicating with senior FAA management about the issue of FAA designees whose privileges expire during the government shutdown.  While renewal is usually a straight-forward process, the shutdown has prevented the FAA from renewing designee privileges that are essential to the continued safe functioning of the aviation system.  Designee oversight is an important part of the FAA’s safety oversight system, and FAA has identified it as one of the important functions that should be conducted during the shutdown.

Yesterday, we reported that nearly 3000 additional FAA aviation safety staff had been ordered back to work. We are already seeing the results of this return.

Today, members began to confirm that the FAA was confirming renewal of designee privileges through their online system.  We know that some flight standards designees who were awaiting renewal have received their renewal notifications.

Aircraft certification designees should start enjoying the same oversight, as well.  The FAA has confirmed that some Aircraft Certification staff are among the safety personnel being recalled.

As of today the MIDO’s are nearly up to full strength. The FAA’s focus is on returning the MIDO employees to work, restructuring oversight plans, and starting surveillance up again.  This should be good news for DARs whose delegated privileges are issued via a MIDO.  FAA senior management has clarified that one of the focal areas for the returning aviation safety staff is designee oversight (including both ODAs and individual designees).  The FAA is also recalling a small number of Aircraft Certification engineers, who will be focused on continued airworthiness tasks, including designee oversight (e.g. DERs).

These returning FAA employees will continue to work without pay until the lapse in funding has ended. Congress passed a bi-partisan bill to ensure payment of back-pay to the federal employees, and that bill was signed by the President yesterday, so we know they will be paid, eventually. ASA continues to empathize with the FAA staff whose pay remains withheld, but we also remain proud of the dedicated FAA staff who are returning to their safety mission during the funding lapse.

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ASA Praises FAA as 3000 Employees Return to Work, Despite Shutdown

The FAA is bringing almost three thousand more inspectors to work during the partial government shutdown.

Numerous organizations have raised concerns about the aviation safety effects of the funding lapse; ASA joined with several other trade associations to send a joint letter to Congress and the White house expressing our concerns.

The Department of Transportation had previously published a shutdown plan that called for the FAA to retain 27,138 unpaid workers and to furlough 17,791 (FAA has a total of 44,929 employees).  Only 216 of those employees were from the Office of Aviation Safety.  The new plan increases this number of personnel to 3113 – so the FAA will recall an additional 2897 employees to work within the Office of Aviation Safety.

The returning staff are expected to be back at work by Friday, January 18th.  This should include many of the Flight Standards Service inspector staff.  Some designated airworthiness representatives holding flight standards privileges (DAR-Ts) have expressed concerns over renewal of their privileges.  This ought to return personnel who can renew those privileges.  But it is uncertain whether appropriate aircraft certification personnel will return and be able to renew DAR-F privileges.

These employees will work without pay until the lapse in funding has ended (but their back-pay has been guaranteed by a bi-partisan bill in Congress, pending the President’s signature on the back-pay bill). Although ASA empathizes with the staff whose pay will be delayed (possibly for a long time), ASA is also proud of the dedication being shown by those who return to their jobs to protect safety.

Government-Sourced Parts: Why Do We Care?

We are periodically asked about parts that have been sourced from “government” aircraft.  The concern is raised because standard industry documentation frequently recommend certifications about government sourcing (or lack thereof).  This can cause confusion, sometimes, about what represents a government source and what does not.

The root cause for this disclosure is a recognition that most aircraft are maintained to common civil standards in accordance with ICAO standards, but that the ICAO civil aircraft maintenance standards do not apply to public use aircraft.  E.g. Maintaining Public AircraftFAA Advisory Circular 91.91 § 1.3 (Oct. 19, 2016) (explaining that the FAA has no statutory authority to regulate public aircraft, and the government operator therefore remains responsible for ensuring adequacy of maintenance).

Consequently, used aircraft parts that have been removed from public aircraft might not have been maintained according to the standards that are commonly used for civil aviation maintenance.

 

What is a Public Aircraft?

 

U.S. law defines a public aircraft as an aircraft used exclusively for United States Government purposes, or state government purposes.  The definition includes any aircraft exclusively leased by the government of a state or U.S. territory for at least 90 continuous days and an aircraft owned or operated by the armed forces or chartered to provide transportation or other commercial air service to the armed forces.  49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(41).  The reason that the aircraft parts community cares about public aircraft is because public aircraft do not need to be maintained to the same standards as civil aircraft.

 

What Has the FAA Recommended About Parts from Public Aircraft?

 

Because parts from public aircraft may not have been maintained to normal civil standards, the FAA has expressed concerns over them.  It is not illegal to use them, but the FAA wants their nature disclosed, so that an installer can ensure airworthiness at the time of installation (or an overhauler can ensure airworthiness at the time of overhaul).

The FAA has recommended that where a part was obtained from a non-certificated aircraft, including a public aircraft, then that fact should be so-identified by some type of documentation. Eligibility, Quality, and Identification of Aeronautical Replacement Parts, FAA Advisory Circular 20-62E, chg 1, § 10(c)(1) (Sept. 14, 2018).

 

Industry Standards for Parts from Public Use Aircraft

 

The FAA’s recommendation in AC 20-62E has been implemented through certain industry standards – most notably ASA-100.  ASA-100 recommends that the seller provide a statement disclosing whether the aircraft parts were “previously installed in a public aircraft, such as a government use aircraft or a military aircraft.”  Aviation Suppliers Association Quality System Standard, ASA-100 § 10(b)(2) (rev. 4.0).

In similar language, ATA Specification 106 recommends that used aircraft parts obtained from non-certificated aircraft be disclosed , unless the part is already accompanied by an 8130-3 that was completed as an approval for return to service.  The guidance provides examples of the sort of sources that should be disclosed, including “public use, non-U.S., and military surplus aircraft.

 

Mitigating Factor

 

A mitigating factor in all of this is that today, many public aircraft in the United States are operated and maintained as if they civil aircraft.  Through the 1980s, the United States has begun to recognize that they were not receiving adequate value on aircraft and aircraft parts that were sold at auction.  One reason was the significant expense associated with verifying airworthiness on such aircraft before they could be used for civil purposes. To remedy this, the U.S> government started maintaining its aircraft consistent with FAA (civil aviation) standards.

This eliminates the differences that caused the industry to be cautious about such public-aircraft-sourced parts.  It makes the affected public-use aircraft parts technically equivalent to comparable parts used in civil aviation.

Despite this, under current federal standards, a federal agency that sells or transfers aircraft parts to a non-federal party must provide the buyer with the following statement:

Warning to purchasers/recipients. The aircraft parts you are purchasing or receiving in an exchange may not be in compliance with applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. You are solely responsible for bringing the aircraft into compliance with 14 CFR Chapter I, or other applicable standards, by obtaining all necessary FAA inspections or modifications..”

41 C.F.R. § 102-33.360(a)(2).

In addition, the purchaser must sign the a lengthy warning and disclaimer statement at the time of sale – this statement is supposed to be retained by the government seller.  Id.  These steps are meant to ensure that the U.S. government has adequately warned the buyer of the potential for non-compliance.

 

“Government Aircraft”

 

People in the industry often use the term “government aircraft.”  They come by this term honestly – the Office of Management and Budget publication OMB Circular No. A-126 (Improving the Management and Use of Government Aircraft) (May 22, 1992) uses the term “Government Aircraft” to mean the federal government’s public aircraft.  OMB Circular No. A-126. at 5(a).

The term “public aircraft,” alone, is well-understood.  But the use of the shorthand term “government aircraft” as a proxy for the concept of public aircraft has led a number of people to ask me whether the term “government aircraft” applies to airlines that are government owned. This is an obvious point of confusion.

Typically, in order for the air carrier to hold itself out to the public and offer carriage, it must be certificated under the home nation’s civil aviation rules.  This means that the air carrier’s aircraft are not (typically) flown as public aircraft. Thus, the mere fact that the air carrier is owned by the government does not imply an airworthiness question requiring a specific disclosure.

Obviously there are potential exceptions, such as where an airline wet-leases an aircraft (on an exclusive basis) to the government (this may be a public operation).

 

 

Renewing Delegated Privileges During the Shutdown

Delegated privileges for DARs, DERs and DMIRs need to be periodically renewed. Normally, the renewal period is annual (every twelve months).  This affects many people in the aircraft parts community, including the DARs who issue 8130-3 tags for aircraft parts.

Under current guidance, a designee that is not renewed by their expiration date will be automatically placed in expired status.  When a designee is placed in expired status, he or she is not permitted to exercise the delegated functions.

A designee in expired status has a 90 day window.   During that 90 day period, the managing office is expected to determine a follow-on action, that is, either reappointment or termination.  In the event no FAA action is taken, then the action defaults to termination.

This could be a real problem for those designees whose expiration arises during the current lapse in funding (aka the shutdown), because there is likely nobody in the local office who can renew their delegated privileges.

To remedy this, we have asked the FAA senior management to issue a memo that tolls the expiration date of DAR, DER and DMIR delegated privileges.  This would have the effect of freezing the privileges as they existed on December 21, and if they were scheduled to expire between that date and the resumption of funding, then the privileges  would continue in place through the tenth business day after funding resumes (to permit a window of time to process the backlog).

This is a proposal only – and it is likely that the FAA will be unable to issue this proposed memo during the shutdown.

After the 2013 shutdown, FAA issued extensions and deviations once the government was reopened – we expect that this is the approach that will be used again in 2019.  Although the precise nature of the extensions and deviations that will be issued after the shutdown cannot be predicted, we hope that ASA’s draft memo tolling the expiration date of expiring delegations will be used as a template to endorse DAR work performed during the shutdown.

Government Shutdown Advice: DARs May Continue Functioning

We continue to get inquiries about designee functions during the government shutdown.

Generally, DARs should go back to their authorizing documents and ensure that they do not have any restrictions that would forbid exercise of authority during the shutdown. As long as there is no limitation/prohibition, and as long as the DAR has general authority to issue 8130-3 tags, it should be acceptable for the DAR to continue issuing 8130-3 tags during the government shutdown in the same manner that the DAR did before the shutdown.

For a complete discussion of this issue, please see our article: DAR Privileges, During the Shutdown

Networking With the Chinese Air Carrier and MRO Community

With all of the rhetoric between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi, it is easy to forget that China is still “open for business.”  China still poses fascinating long-term business opportunities for the aviation community.

Shanghai, during the 2016 Aviation Parts Management Forum

Shanghai, during the 2016 Aviation Parts Management Forum

I have found that one of the best conferences for meeting Chinese air carriers and MROs is the Aviation Parts Management Forum. They have a history of getting all of the large MROs and air carriers, and a significant representation of the smaller ones as well.  If you want to sell aerospace articles or services into the Chinese market, I can think of no better conference at which to meet your Chinese customers.

The 2019 Forum will be held on March 28-29 in Xiamen, China.  A year ago, CNN’s Travel Section called Xiamen “China’s new capital of cool.”

The forum sponsor (Oppland) will soon be publishing their agenda for the 2019 Aviation Parts Management Forum, but for now a preliminary agenda is available on the website.

To get in touch with the organizers directly, send an email to Echo Sun at echos@opplandcorp.com, or call her at +86 1356 463 7605.

ASA in Japan

The ASA Team meets with the Skymark Team. Ryan Aggergaard, Sachie Tomita, Shinichi Kitamura, Jason Dickstein, Shimpei Nakahara and Shichi Nonome

ASA partnered with the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research institute (TIRI) to lead a workshop on aircraft parts in Tokyo this week.  Airline attendees included representatives from All Nippon Airways, (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL) and Skymark Airlines.

Skymark's Shinichi Kitamura and ASA's Jason Dickstein reconnect over 8130-3 tags in Tokyo.

Skymark’s Shinichi Kitamura and ASA’s Jason Dickstein reconnect over 8130-3 tags in Tokyo.

We were pleased to reconnect with Shinich Kitamura.  Many ASA members have met Kitamura-san at past ASA Annual Conferences, when he used to attend on behalf of ANA.  He is now with Skymark, but is looking forward to retirement, quire soon.  Skymark is a low-cost carrier based out of Haneda airport and operating 737-800s.

The focus of the workshop was discussing aircraft parts documentation standards from the perspective of Japan’s international agreements (like the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement with the United States and the Working Arrangement with EASA) as well as the recommendations and common practices of the industry.  We also reviewed documentation recommendations from AC 00-56B.

We hope that this sort of support continues to bolster the important commercial relations between the US and Japan

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