DARs – Where Can They Work? From Home?

I have heard from quite a few ASA members that their DARs are being told that they can no longer work from their own facilities.  This is a problem for many DARs who receive parts at their home or office, review each part and its paperwork, and then if the part is eligible the DAR issues an 8130-3 tag for the part.

The source of the issue appears to be an FAA email that stated:

It has come to the attention of the FAA some designees are unclear on where FAA Form 8130-3 may be issued when performing authorized work at the request of a distributor.  As defined in FAA Order 8130.21, any certification work when performed on a distributor’s inventory must be performed at the distributor’s place of business.  This policy does not allow for a designee to perform these functions at their personal home location.  In addition, the Designee Management Policy in FAA Order 8000.95 requires the designee to define the location of where the activity is going to take place, prior to the FAA delegating the function.

Contrary to the email, there is no general requirement in FAA Order 8130.21H that 8130-3 tags must be issued “at the distributor’s place of business.”  We’ve been in touch with FAA Headquarters about this, and they have pledged to examine the situation.

Different Type of DARs

In examining the guidance situation, it is important to remember that there are different types of DARs with different privileges.  There are DARs who received their privileges under FAA Policy memos:

Those DARs are typically restricted to only working at the facility of the sponsoring distributor.  The reason for this is because their privileges are tied to the AC 00-56B system of the distributor. They use a systems approach based on the accredited system to support their findings.

These ‘limited-DARs’ should be contrasted with traditional DARs who are not specifically tied to an accredited distributor.  Traditional DARs are typically limited to the geographical range of the office from which they received their credentials (the managing office).  If the DAR needs to work outside of that range, then there is a well-documented process for expanding those geographic limitations (it involves assurances that the FAA is able to adequately monitor and supervise the designee, as well as coordination between geographically relevant offices).

Note of course that a DAR who lives in a geographic district different from that of his or her FAA managing office should consider transferring to a more geographically-suitable FAA managing office if he or she plans to work from (and issue tags from) a home office.  Designee operations outside of the geographic territory of the managing office are typically not permitted without written permission from the FAA.

Limit on ‘Traditional’ DARs

The recent email received by some DARs appears to have been sent to traditional DARs.  But it appears to have confused the restrictions placed on the special category DARs who work on for distributors (and who must operate within the AC 00-56 quality system of the distributor), with the privileges of ‘normal’ DARs, who may operate anywhere within their prescribed geographic limitations.

This is more than just a matter of confusion of standards.  There are problems with this directive, including:

(1) Order 8130.21H states that when a tag is issued at a distributor’s facility then the distributor’s name and address should be placed in block 4 – but this does not limit where the tag can be issued – it only sets a rule for how to complete block 4 (this is consistent with the guidance in para 2-5(b) of that same order, which requires block 4 to state the name and address where the tag is issued;

(2) There is no restriction in Order 8130.21H that forbids a DAR from operating out of his or her home, even when reviewing parts that belong to a distributor;

(3) Many DARs are both semi-retired and aged, so it is not unusual for many of them to operate out of their home offices,

(4) When the DAR operates out of his or her home office, the distributor must bring the parts to the DAR for review prior to issue of the tag; and,

(5) Order 8130.21H requires that the 8130-3 state where the tag was issued, so it is supposed to list the DAR’s home office address, if that is where the tag was issued.

The recent language is already causing problems for several distributors, whose DARs feel that they can no longer accept and review parts at their home offices.

ASA has brought this to the attention of FAA management, and they rapidly pledged to examine the situation.


Business With Iran – Grinding to a Halt?

Several ASA members have looked into doing business with Iranian air carriers and other Iranian customers.  Some have even applied for export licenses to support such business.  But those efforts appear to be wasted as the US prepares to begin enforcing sanctions against Iran, once again.

Today (May 8, 2018), the President announced his decision to discontinue the United States’ participation in the Agreement with Iran, and to reimpose sanctions against Iran.

The Treasury has published a Frequently Asked Questions document explaining the upcoming process for Iranian sanctions.  The FAQ, consistent with the President’s announcement, requires the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury to take immediate steps to re-impose all United States sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA, including those under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, and the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012.  These steps shall be accomplished as expeditiously as possible, and in no case later than 180 days from May 8, 2018.

As part of this process, the U.S. government plans to revoke JCPOA-related authorizations such as the aircraft and aircraft parts-related licenses issued pursuant to the US-Iran Agreement; expect to see these permits terminated as of August 6, 2018,

Applicants whose pending license applications are denied may resubmit their applications for consideration under the safety of flight statement of licensing policy found in 31 C.F.R. § 560.528. That provision permits licenses on a case-by-case basis for exporting to Iran in order to ensure the safety of civil aviation and safe operation of U.S.-origin commercial passenger aircraft.

Scrapped Parts – What Evidence of Destruction Should I Expect?

An Association member recently asked me what sort of documentation is appropriate to provide evidence of destruction when aircraft parts are being scrapped.

In 2012, ASA published ASA Best Practice: Disposition of Unsalvageable Aircraft Parts.  That guidance recommends:

“Persons disposing of unsalvageable aircraft parts and materials should maintain a record keeping system which identifies the part number, serial number (as applicable) and description of the part.”

This recommendation is advisory only – it is not required by law.

Under US law, there is no legal obligation to scrap commercial aircraft parts, and therefore there is no legal requirement to maintain documentation or other evidence of that activity.  Nonetheless, there may be some risk-mitigation-reasons for maintaining such records.

Aircraft parts that are not airworthy – and cannot be made airworthy – can be a hazard to aviation safety if their condition is misrepresented and they are subsequently used inappropriately.  Because of this potential hazard, many companies will scrap aircraft parts that they deem to be valueless (including those identified as “beyond economic repair”).  They do so in order to help to mitigate any potential liability (including product liability) associated with a future use (or misrepresentation) of the parts.  If the part has been scrapped, then it is less likely that someone will mistake it for a good, airworthy, part.

This means that while there is no legal obligation for scrapping, there may be risk mitigation and/or legal liability reasons to scrap certain parts.  Therefore, a company’s decisions about scrapping, and evidence thereof, should be guided by sound commercial practices and the business’ plan for mitigating its own liability (and for protecting the aviation community from parts-related hazards).

I have heard that some companies ask their scrap facility to photograph mutilated material, but this appears to be an unusual request at this point in time.  Such documentation can be costly and time consuming.

It is more normal for businesses that scrap aircraft parts to provide a certificate of destruction.  In other countries, where the disposal of certain materials is more heavily regulated, a certificate of destruction may be more regulated; but in the US, an aircraft parts certificate of destruction is a commercial document that is typically not subject to direct FAA regulation.

I drafted the AFRA Best Management Practices for Disassembly of Aircraft Assets and Recycling and we recommended obtaining a Certificate of Destruction in that standard.  This recommendation was based on these facts:

  1. Many third parties that were providing such services to the aviation industry provided such a certificate;
  2. Many aviation industry parties that were obtaining such services asked for such a certificate; and,
  3. The practice of obtaining evidence of destruction of parts could be useful to mitigate liability in the event such parts (or counterfeits of such parts) later were involved in a loss event, such as an aircraft incident or accident.

Because it is not legally required in the United States, I cannot describe a specific legal minimum standard for evidence of scrapping (e.g. documentation, photographs, etc.); but I can provide some tips related to scrapping of parts identified as being appropriate for destruction.  These following points are only suggestions to consider when developing your scrapping policy.  An actual decision should be based upon your business’ needs and desires, and upon your risk mitigation strategy.

  1. Your business may have obligations imposed by contract.  This is particularly true when disposing of defense aircraft parts.  You should ensure that your practices are consistent with your contractual obligations, and then subsequently you should ensure that you do not adopt new contractual obligations related to scrapping without updating your practices to support those new obligations.
  2. If you are not going to scrap parts yourself, on-site, then use a facility that you trust to perform the scrapping activity.
  3. You may want to consider periodic audits of your scrapping vendor, to ensure they continue to have a secure environment for intake, scrapping and security of the scrap result.  many reputable facilities have a procedures-based system for handling material.  This sort of system allows you to audit the procedures (as written) to ensure they meet your need, and then permits you to audit the implementation of the procedures to ensure that they are being implemented consistent with the expectations generated by the written procedures.
  4. Consider maintaining a record keeping system that identifies the part number, serial number (as applicable) and description of each part.  This system should be sufficiently robust to allow you to pull evidence of destruction from your files if it becomes necessary.
  5. As discussed above, consider obtaining a Certificate of Destruction for the parts that are scrapped, and retaining the Certificate as part of your records.  This may identify the material based on an attachment (which may be your manifest that accompanied the material to the scrap facility).  This represents current normal practice for identifying material that has been destroyed.
  6. In the future, photographs documenting the destruction of material may become an industry norm.  If this becomes a norm, then:
    1. You may want to adopt that norm; and,
    2. You ought to find it easier to find scrap facilities willing to offer photographic evidence, if market forces are requiring such documentation.

Condition Codes on Parts with Multiple Tags

An association member recently asked about the “correct” condition code to use when selling a component with multiple tags.

This answer is limited to commercial condition codes, such as those used on listing services like ILSmart or PartsBase.  If one is looking for the condition code to list on an 8130-3 tag or other government tag then the answer may be different!  For example, one may not describe an article as overhauled on an 8130-3 (approval for return to service) unless the article was disassembled, cleaned, inspected, repaired as necessary, reassembled, and tested.  All of this must be performed using methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the FAA.

The specific question involves a hypothetical fuel pump bearing two 8130-3 tags.  The first tag is an earlier overhaul tag.  we will assume for this hypothetical that the tag is in good order and that the overhaul was properly completed.  The second tag is a more recent one stating “Modified” in the status/work block, and explaining in the remarks block of the tag that the fuel pump was modified according to instructions in a manufacturer’s service bulletin. The part has remained unused and uninstalled since the overhaul.  Which condition code is appropriate for identifying the unit?

A part that is marketed as “overhauled” may be perceived as having a different value than a part that is marketed as “modified,” so knowing which condition code is commercially appropriate for marketing the part can have a real dollars-and-cents effect.

We are talking about condition codes in commercial communications (and not codes on a regulated document, like an 8130-3 tag).  These condition codes may be governed by instructions associated with the commercial medium.  Therefore, if you are using a commercial medium for this communication then you should follow the rules set by that medium.  Typically, online inventory locator services will have their own definitions and standards.  If you are communicating via a SPEC 106 form, then that specification provides some guidance about condition codes for use in the associated form.

In the hypothetical that we’ve posed, the fact that this is for a fuel pump may mean that the age of the earlier overhaul tag is relevant.  Fuel pumps include seals that could degrade over time.  This is a rather specific issue connected to the hypothetical that may not be applicable to other parts with more recent overhaul tags, or that do not have elements that are susceptible to degradation over time.

Setting those issues aside, though, it is generally acceptable for a distributor to describe an aircraft part as overhauled if the maintenance records reveal that it was properly overhauled, and has not been used or installed since the overhaul.  If there is an applicable Service Bulletin, then the customer will likely want to know about the Service Bulletin status, but that can be discussed directly with the customer (or disclosed in a remarks field, if such a field is available).  One reason that this is acceptable is because the Service Bulletin should not have done anything to the part to change the fact that it was overhauled – obviously, if the service bulletin modification undermines the overhaul, or provides alternative instructions for identification, then the service bulletin that was incorporated should take precedence over this advice.

Note that there are a variety of unusual circumstances that can change this rule-of-thumb-advice.  For example, where the subsequent service bulletin requires a part number change, it may become inappropriate to list the part under its new part number as “overhauled,” because it was overhauled under the prior part number (causing a mismatch between the part number on the overhaul tag and the new part number on the part).  In such a case, it may be more appropriate to list the new part number’s condition as modified or altered on the grounds that the new part number was not associated with the earlier maintenance, and the new part number could have different overhaul requirements.




FAA issues new SUPs Guidance

The FAA has issued a “change one” to the SUPs Advisory Circular: AC 21-29D, Detecting and Reporting Suspected Unapproved Parts.
The change adds better information on how to subscribe to the FAA’s Unapproved Parts Notices (UPNs) in order to get them when they are issued, and it also updates some office references to make them consistent with the FAA’s reorganization.
Remember, the FAA eliminated the ability to make a SUPs report by phone when they issued the “D” revision last summer.  SUPs reports must be provided to the FAA by e-mail or by US mail.

Unapproved Parts Notice – Rescinded

Recently, we provided an update on our progress with the FAA concerning a recent Unapproved Parts Notice (UPN) known as UPN 2018-2017-0001120.  We had concerns about the basis for the issue of that UPN, which appeared to be contrary to law.

The FAA has formally rescinded that UPN.  They recognized that the UPN was not necessary, because each of the parts had been shown to be “traceable to a PAH, traceable to an approved design by which an airworthiness determination can be made, or quarantined.”  This pronouncement did not give us the clear statement concerning traceability policy for which we were hoping, but it does mean that ASA members do not have to search their inventories for these parts.

The formal rescission can be found here: Rescind Notice – 2018 Genesis UPN 2018-2017-0001120


Unapproved Parts Notice – Update

We’ve gotten a number of phone calls and emails about a recent Unapproved Parts Notice (UPN) known as UPN 2018-2017-0001120.  This UPN claimed that several parts (Clamp Loop, Cushion, part number TA025030-06; Filter Element, part number 26570; Base Plate, part number 232012; and Bushing, part number S700B0455-6C011) were distributed without traceability to a FAA Production Approval Holder.  As many of you know, U.S. law does not require this sort of traceability as a regulatory condition for distribution of expendable parts like these.

This purported traceability-basis for the UPN has confused many ASA members who are extremely familiar with both the law and the industry practice concerning traceability.

Two weeks ago, we sent an email to the FAA that explained:

On February 15, the FAA issued a UPN on some expendable parts (UPN 2018-2017-0001120).  The claim in the UPN was that the parts were “distributed … without traceability to a FAA Production Approval Holder.”  This appears to be the sole violation described in the UPN.

As you know, back-to-birth traceability is a norm for life limited parts, but several Chief Counsel’s Opinion Letters have confirmed that it is not required under the regulations.

For expendable parts like the ones in the UPN, the FAA’s published policy states that it is acceptable to distribute such parts with a “statement as to identity and condition.”  E.g. AC 00-56B.  Thus, FAA published policy comports with FAA Chief Counsel’s Opinion Letters in clarifying that back-to-birth traceability is NOT required.

We are very concerned that this UPN appears to set the wrong standard – a standard that is legally wrong, that contradicts published FAA policy, and that would be unmanageable for current expendable inventories.  This concern is shared by many of ASA’s members and we have fielded a significant number of phone calls this week from concerned members.

It is possible that the real issue for these parts is different from what the MIDO published in the UPN.  If this is the case, then we trust that the FAA will reissue the UPN with the correct information.  But if the identified problem truly was a lack of back-to-birth traceability, then we trust that the FAA will rescind this UPN in the grounds that back-to-birth traceability is not required, and that it is an industry norm for expendable parts purchased from many distributors that they may not have back-to-birth traceability.

Once your staff has looked into this, I would appreciate an update on your plans, if any, to remedy this UPN guidance.

We’ve been talking with the FAA in the intervening two weeks, and they have been diligently investigating this matter. The FAA management people who now have charge of this project are the sort who like to do something once, and do it correctly the first time; so we have a great deal of confidence that they will come to the right decision: a decision that protects the integrity of the industry’s safety focus without imposing unworkable documentation standards.

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