FAA Transitioning Limited DARs to Full-Function DARs

Today, the FAA issued a memo that permits the limited designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) [commonly known as DAR-56s] to transition to normal DARs with function code 19 privileges.  This is a major achievement for ASA’s members!

The Guidance

The new FAA guidance is known as Memo Number AIR-600-17-6F0-DM08.  This memo permits current DAR-56 privilege holders to apply for function code 19 privileges.

The reason for this change is to resolve certain limitation that the FAA now believes are unnecessary.  The first unnecessary limitation involves the date of  receipt of the parts.  DAR-56 privilege holders can only issue 8130-3 where the parts were received by November 1, 2016.  This date was arbitrary, and did not to address the fact that production approval parts are still entering the system from manufactures who do not issue 8130-3 tags.  Transitioning to function code 19 will eliminate this date restriction.

The second issue this resolves is that the DAR-56 program only permits tagging of a very limited slice of parts.  A much broader swath of parts are eligible for 8130-3 tags under current FAA policy.  Function code 19 permits tagging of parts with adequate evidence that they were created by a production approval holder, and have suffered neither damage nor degradation since release from the production approval holder’s quality system.  While this category is subject to FAA guidance, it is still broader than the very narrow limits associated with DAR-56.

The deadline to apply for a smooth transition is 90 days from the date of the memo (Tuesday, 2 January, 2018).

The Process (for DAR 56 holders)

If you currently hold DAR 56 privileges, then you should apply to your local (“geographic”) Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO) for appointment as a DAR-F with function code 19.  You can find your geographic MIDO on the FAA’s website.  Using the “select the state” function at the bottom of the page (but above the blue footer), enter your state where you operate and find which MIDO is your geographic MIDO.

Then, apply to your geographic MIDO using the on-line Designee Management System tool.

In order to be appointed as a DAR-F under this program an applicant must meet the minimum qualifications provided in FAA Order 8000.95. Look within 8000.95 for the criteria – specifically in Volume 1, Chapter 2 and in Volume 8, Chapter 2.

There is one significant difference from the standards found in FAA Order 8000.95 and the transitioning DAR 56s.  That is the experience provision.  Under the FAA memo, the applicant who has applied for a timely transition from DAR 56 privileges does not need to meet the normal 36 month experience  requirement.  Instead, the applicant must

“[h]ave a minimum of 12-months actual working experience for the accredited distributor under the quality system at the accredited distributor location(s), specifically:

a. Experience in either receiving inspection and/or quality assurance processes; and,

b. Experience reviewing documentation and/or part markings which can be used to verify that parts and articles are traceable to the PAH.”

Application checklist:

  • Identify your geographic MIDO;
  • Complete the required FAA training (you will need to submit the training certificate as part of your application package);
  • Obtain a letter of reference from the accredited distributor (signed by someone who can represent the business); a sample can be found in attachment 1 to the memo;
  • Ensure that your application details match those already filed for you under the DAR-56 program;
  • Apply through the DMS system, and include:
    1. Evidence of completion of the required FAA training;
    2. The letter of reference from the accredited distributor;
  • Notify FAA Headquarters that you currently hold function code 56 privileges and that you have filed an online application seeking function code 19 privileges.  Perform this notification by ending an email to the AIR-6F0 mailbox at AIR160-limiteddarf@faa.gov.  AIR-6F0 will notify the appropriate MIDO of the application, and let them know that it is subject to the provisions of the policy memo.

Once this process is complete, if the FAA reviews your package and finds that you can be transitioned to function code 19, then they will cancel your DAR 56 privileges and assign function code 19 privileges for issuing 8130-3 tags.  Don’t just rely on this checklist – be sure to study the policy memo!

Once you get the new function code privileges, you should expect that you will be limited to only exercising the privilege at the accredited facilities of the AC 00-56 accredited distributor.  This is not a “portable” credential, because it relies on the distributor’s AC 00-56B system as part of the basis for knowing that the part is in an appropriate condition to receive an 8130-3 tag.

The Process (for others)

We advised all of our members to obtain DAR-56 privileges.  But we recognize that some members did not follow this advice.  We also recognize that some function code 56 holders may allow the 90 day period to come and go without filing their application to transition.

If you do not hold DAR-56 privileges, or if you waited too long, then there is still a path!

The new guidance permits other persons to apply for function code 19 privileges under the terms of the memo; however such applicants are not entitled to the same presumptions enjoyed by transitioning DAR-56 holders.  If you fall into this category, then you will only be considered if the MIDO can independently establish that the FAA has a need and ability to manage the delegation; this means that you are going to need to convince the MIDO!  You also need to meet conditions that are comparable to those imposed on DAR 56 applicants.  You will still benefit from the alternative experience requirement (12 months experience with the quality system of the accredited distributor).

What About Export Tags?

The FAA has been transitioning away from a distinction between “domestic tags” and “export tags.” They took a major step toward that goal when they issued the memo guidance that explained that 8130-3 tags were no longer allowed to say the word “export.”  For a full discussion of this change, please see our blog post on the subject.

This transition is consistent with international practice, which typically does not distinguish between an “export tag” and a “domestic tag.”

So the future of the 8130-3 tag is that all tags will look the same – whether they are intended for domestic use or non-US use – and there will be no visible difference in the tag for exports.  The exporter is expected to address the special import conditions of the importing nation.  This has been FAA policy for some time, with export compliance obligations falling on the exporter and not on the DAR.

For newly transitioned DARs who are permitted to issue domestic tags under function code 19, this means that the tags will be useful for exports as well as for domestic transactions.

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DAR 56? Apply to Extend Your Credentials by September 30!

Do you have function code 56 privileges?  If you do, then you need to renew your credentials ASAP – the deadline for renewal is September 30.  Instructions and other guidance for renewal can be found in our earlier post about submitting your request for renewal.

Background on FC 56

FAA created a program (AIR-100-16-160-PM13) that allowed qualified distributor employees to issue 8130-3 tags as DARs exercising function code (FC) 56.

Many of the eligible new parts had been accepted under their previously acceptable documentation schemes, which were both known and recognized within the industry. ASA argued that under FAA policies (like FAA AC 20-62E), these documents were sufficient to identify a new part and to permit installation, so issuing an 8130-3 tag based on that evidence should be a mere ministerial task. The FAA agreed and created a Limited DAR program (“DAR 56”) in which individuals could obtain the DAR privilege of issuing 8130-3 for parts when the following conditions were met (this is only a partial list):

  1. Individual must work for an accredited distributor, and can only tag parts that were received by the distributor’s accredited system before a certain date (currently November 1, 2016)
  2. Individual must complete FAA training
  3. Part must either bear (1) part markings regulated under 14 C.F.R. § 45.14 [PMA, TSOA and critical parts], (2) a certificate from the manufacturer, confirming that the part was produced under a FAA production approval, or (3) a certificate from the manufacturer’s direct-ship authorized supplier, confirming that the part was produced under a FAA production approval.

The program was scheduled to end on September 30, 2017 but was extended by an additional policy memo (AIR-600-17-6F0-PM01) until 2018.

Discussion with the FAA About the Future of DAR 56

The FAA is considering converting all FC 56 DARs into FC 19 DARs (they will need to apply through normal channels, but the FAA would treat their distribution experience as relevant experience for obtaining Function Code 19 privileges).

If this program goes through, then many of the FC 56 limitations would ‘go away’ and the DARs would be able to use function code 19 to tags other sorts of new parts that have clear indicia of having been produced by US Production Approval Holders.  This could make it easier to handle expendables that have been difficult to get tagged because of their volume and low-cost (relative to the normal cost of obtaining an 8130-3).  It is likely that the converted DARs woud lneed to rely on their AC 00-56 systems as a condition of the exercise of their functions.

This is not yet subject to final approval by FAA management, so it could change!

Advice

If you currently hold Limited DAR credentials under the “DAR 56” program, then

  1. You need to apply to extend your credentials by September 30 – that deadline is coming up fast!! You can find more details here;
  2. Be sure to use your credentials to issue 8130-3 – activity is an important metric when seeking to renew or upgrade your credentials;
  3. We are working with the FAA to permit transfer of your credentials to a permanent DAR with function code 19 (able to issue 8130-3 tags for a wider class of demonstrably airworthy, new parts). We hope to have more news on this, soon!

Important Changes Affecting How YOU Get Your 8130-3 Tags

ASA met with FAA to discuss access to 8130-3 tags.

As you all know, revision 6 of the Maintenance Annex Guidance added a new receiving requirement for aircraft parts: all parts manufactured by US Production Approval Holders (PAHs) must bear 8130-3 tags.  Although the requirement is technically limited to dual-certificated repair stations, it triggered a domino effect that has led many in the global industry to demand 8130-3 tags (sometimes demanding the tags on parts that are ineligible for such tags).

This effectively froze inventories of new (airworthy) PAH parts that bore documentation other than the 8130-3 (e.g. parts with manufacturer’s Certificates of Conformity, parts with back-to-birth traceability, etc.).  The small supply of DARs and high prices for 8130-3 tags relative to the cost of new expendables created a situation that was difficult to remedy.

The FAA issued two policies that helped to provide temporary remedies, while a permanent solution to the crisis is sought.

Temporary Remedy One: Repair Stations Can Inspect Parts

FAA issued Notice 8900.380 last year.  That Notice permitted repair stations to bring in parts without 8130-3 tags and inspect them to confirm airworthiness through traditional indicia.  That notice was expected to terminate in August; the FAA issued Notice 8900.429 to replace it.  The replacement notice is substantially the same as the original.

Repair stations looking for instructions on how to inspect such parts should contact the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), which published their E-100 standard to guide repair stations in doing this.  Their standard has been favorably reviewed by the FAA as a tool for compliance to the MAG.

Temporary Remedy Two: Limited DARs

FAA also created a program (AIR-100-16-160-PM13) that allowed qualified distributor employees to issue 8130-3 tags as DARs.

Many of the eligible new parts had been accepted under their previously acceptable documentation schemes, which were both known and recognized within the industry.  ASA argued that under FAA policies (like FAA AC 20-62E), these documents were sufficient to identify a new part and to permit installation, so issuing an 8130-3 tag based on that evidence should be a mere ministerial task.  The FAA agreed and created a Limited DAR program (“DAR 56”) in which individuals could obtain the DAR privilege of issuing 8130-3 for parts when the following conditions were met (this is only a partial list):

  1. Individual must work for an accredited distributor, and can only tag parts that were received by the distributor’s accredited system before a certain date (currently November 1, 2016)
  2. Individual must complete FAA training
  3. Part must either bear (1) part markings regulated under 14 C.F.R. § 45.14 [PMA, TSOA and critical parts], (2) a certificate from the manufacturer, confirming that the part was produced under a FAA production approval, or (3) a certificate from the manufacturer’s direct-ship authorized supplier, confirming that the part was produced under a FAA production approval.

The program was scheduled to end on September 30, 2017 but was extended by an additional policy memo (AIR-600-17-6F0-PM01) until 2018.

Discussion with the FAA About the Future

Our most recent discussions with the FAA have been very positive.  They recognize the importance of having a path to economically obtain 8130-3 tags for demonstrably airworthy parts.  At present, they appear to recognize the importance of maintaining the temporary solutions until a permanent solution is adopted.  But the exact nature of a permanent solution is still elusive.

One option is for EASA to change what they “require” for receiving documentation.  One issue with such a “change” is that European regulations are not as strict as the MAG, so Europe simply does not have the problem that the US is facing.  Another is that European traditions of regulatory interpretation are more realpolitik than US traditions, which gives them even more room to do business.  This has been seen, first-hand, by distributors that find that parts rejected in the US for lack of MAG compliance are still readily accepted by EU-based repair stations.  Nonetheless, Europe is considering eliminating the need for an EASA Form One for non-critical parts (a term that still needs a settled definition in this context), which could provide some relief for the many airworthy expendable parts that have been caught-up in this issue.  These topics are expected to be on the table in the EASA Global Manufacturing meeting that FAA and ASA will both attend later this Fall.

Another option is providing more resources for 8130-3 tags.  Airworthiness approval tags were originally meant to be used only for aircraft and major assemblies – it was expected that exporters would self-certify the airworthiness of export articles based on other evidence (like evidence of production by a FAA-PAH).  Over the decades we have chipped away at this notion but some executives in the FAA think that the 8130-3 inhibits exports of airworthy parts more often than it facilitates those exports.  In light of the robust evidence of airworthiness that traditionally follows a PAH part, they are starting to lean toward relaxing the standards for issuing an 8130-3 where clear evidence of airworthiness is present.

These are just two options of the many that have been discussed; but they represent long-term projects – right now, we need to be focused on the short-term mechanisms for keeping airworthy parts moving in the chain of commerce.  So for that, US businesses that sell aircraft parts should carefully follow his advice:

Advice

If you do not yet hold Limited DAR credentials under the “DAR 56” program, then apply for them ASAP.  The ability to obtain 8130-3 tags through this program is going to be more and more important to distributors.

  • We recommend that you should have more than one person in your facility with these privileges, to allow for business continuity in the event one Limited DAR becomes unavailable;
  • Holding these Limited DAR credentials could also make it easier in the future to obtain permanent DAR credentials;
  • For some companies, the Limited DAR credentials have only limited utility.  Because they can serve as a bridge to other (more useful) credentials, we recommend seeking these credentials;

If you currently hold Limited DAR credentials under the “DAR 56” program, then

  1. You need to apply to extend your credentials by September 30 – that deadline is coming up fast!!  You can find more details here;
  2. Be sure to use your credentials to issue 8130-3 – activity is an important metric when seeking to renew or upgrade your credentials;
  3. We are working with the FAA to permit transfer of your credentials to a permanent DAR with function code 19 (able to issue 8130-3 tags for a wider class of demonstrably airworthy, new parts).  We hope to have more news on this, soon!

DAR 56 Extended Until August 2018 – Submit Your Request For Extension NOW!

The FAA has extended the Limited DAR-F program that allows certain employees of accredited distributors to issue 8130-3 tags for certain inventory known to have been produced by an FAA production approval holder (commonly known as the “DAR 56 program,” reflecting the function code number).  This is an important victory for distributors who rely on this program as a source of 8130-3 tags.

One Year Extension

The program was extended by a policy memo published on August 25. The new termination date is September 30, 2018 (it was September 30, 2017).  In order to take advantage of this extension, limited DARs with function code 56 privileges must request an extension.  The new policy memo explains:

A currently appointed Limited DAR-F may request an extension by submitting an email to 9-AIR160-limiteddarf@faa.gov. Limited DAR-Fs that do not request an extension will be automatically terminated on September 30, 2017, in accordance with the current expiration date on their Certificate of Authority (COA) letter. The Delegation and Organizational Procedures Branch, AIR-6F0, will send an email to each Limited DAR-F who does not request an extension to inform them of the termination of their appointment. AIR-6F0 will issue a new COA letter with the new expiration date to each qualified Limited DAR-F requesting an extension. Each designee will be required to continue to provide quarterly activity reports using the FY18 Quarterly Activity Report in Attachment 1.

The new policy memo is identified by the policy number “AIR-600-17-6F0-PM01.”  This extension was made in response to ASA’s earlier petition, as well as our ongoing dialogue with the FAA about these issues.

The old DAR 56 policy, AIR-100-16-160-PM13, was previously described in this blog.  Reviewing that prior publication may be useful, because it provides many important details that are not repeated in the newer policy memo.  The new policy extends the old policy, incorporates it by reference, and includes significant changes in the reporting and oversight mechanism.

New Reporting and Oversight Mechanism

Under the original policy, designees were required to track the number of 8130-3 tags that they issued on a Quarterly Activity Report, but that form was not required to be submitted to the FAA (it remained available for review/submission upon request).   The new policy now requires information to be submitted to the FAA:

At the end of each quarterly reporting period, the FAA, via e-mail, will be requesting documentation in support of its oversight of each designee. Designees must submit the requested materials via email to 9-air160-limiteddarf@faa.gov. In addition, AIR-6F0 will be making site visits to conduct on-site direct observation of selected Limited DAR-Fs. Each site visit will be coordinated with the designee in advance and the distributor management representative will be notified.

So look for the emailed request for documentation, from the FAA!  It is possible that the FAA could ask for something different than the Quarterly Activity Report, but it is unlikely because the Report is the only record required to be kept under the program.  Also, do not be surprised if the FAA tells you that they will be visiting your facility to oversee your DARs – these sort of site visits will become a normal part of the process.

What’s Next?

The FAA recognizes that DAR 56 is merely a temporary solution to a larger issue.  The FAA has published a five step plan to move this issue forward toward a long-term solution:

1)  FAA meeting with EASA – The FAA has scheduled a meeting with EASA management in Cologne in late August to address the specific EASA requirement for an FAA Form 8130-3 and to discuss other options.

2)   Additional outreach to production approval holders (PAHs) – The FAA is looking into additional outreach to the PAH community  to ensure awareness of the current MAG 6 requirement and that they understand the recent Part 21 rule change allowing them to request a quality manual update to issue tags themselves.

3)   Work with distributor community to ensure they are requesting Form 8130-3s from PAHs – FAA is planning to reach out to the distributors that have Limited DAR-Fs to encourage them to request Form 81 30-3s on their purchase orders for parts that could be destined for EASA repair stations.

4)   Ensure awareness of Notice 8900.422 – This notice allows repair stations  to perform inspections on parts received without the required documentation and to issue FAA Form 8130-3s. This notice is in essence a reissuance of Notice 8900.380.

5)   Meeting of FAA and industry reps on 8130-3 tag matter – FAA is planning to arrange a meeting  in Washington, DC in the next month or so, where we will bring a select group of industry and FAA stakeholders together to discuss how we further address the 8130-3 tag issues and concerns going forward.   We will ensure that [ASA is] invited to participate.

Also on the agenda for the September meeting between FAA and the distribution community in a discussion of ASA’s request for expansion of the scope of the DAR 56 program to include (1) parts received after the arbitrary 2016 cut-off date (including newly produced parts and newly surplussed parts), and (2) parts bearing industry standard indicia of airworthiness, like documents described in AC 20-62E, and new surplus parts verified by an air carrier to be in new condition.

Other Details

The observant among you will notice that the originating office (the first part of the policy number) has changed from AIR-100 to AIR-600.  This is because of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification reorganization.

Interested in the program, but not yet part of it?  Qualified employees of AC 00-56 accredited businesses can still apply for DAR 56 privileges until August 1, 2018.

ASA Petitions FAA for Extension of DAR-56 Program

Last week ASA submitted a petition to the FAA formally requesting the indefinite extension of the Limited DAR-F Program for Accredited Distributors–commonly known as the DAR-56 program–that is scheduled to expire September 30, 2017.  ASA further requested an expansion of the program to better reflect the needs of the distribution community.  You may also recall that ASA recently led an industry effort that secured the reissuance of FAA Notice 8900.380 for another year. Both of these efforts are in response to the 8130-3 tag requirements arising out of MAG 6, which put billions of dollars of distributor inventory at risk.

ASA explained in its petition to extend DAR-56 indefinitely that the facts that gave rise to the need for the DAR-56 program have not changed and that the need for the program to continue was therefore very important to distributors.  The DAR-56 program permits Limited DAR-F’s to issue 8130-3 tags for parts on the basis of specific indicia of sourcing from the PAH.

As attendees of the ASA conference heard from members, distributors have so much inventory that needs to be tagged under the DAR-56 program that it could literally take years to tag every part.  This includes vast numbers of small, low-dollar-value parts for which hiring an independent designee would be economically infeasible.  ASA therefore proposed an indefinite extension of the program with semi-annual meetings between the FAA, ASA, and interested parties to discuss the ongoing need for the program so that it can be discontinued after a permanent solution is developed.

In addition to proposing an indefinite extension of the DAR-56 program (rather than annual extensions requiring yearly petitions and discussions), ASA also recommended changes that would improve the effectiveness of the program and help distributors.

At present, the DAR-56 program permits Limited DAR-F’s to issue 8130-3 tags under the following criteria:

  1. The aircraft part was received by the distributor prior to November 1, 2016 and
  2. The aircraft part must bear specific indicia of production under 14 C.F.R. Part 21:
    1. A certificate or statement of conformity that was issued by the production approval holder (any documentation part numbers and serial numbers, if applicable, must match any part markings); or,
    2. A certificate or statement of conformity that was issued by the production approval holder’s supplier, and a verification of direct shipment authorization; or,
    3. Markings regulated under 14 C.F.R. 45.15 and describing the PAH’s name or other identification (for parts, this would typically be limited to PMA, TSOA or critical parts).

ASA recommended that the program be extended as follows:

  1. The program be expanded to include any aircraft part that was received by the distributor at any time when the distributor was accredited under the AC 00-56 program.
  2. Expand the acceptable indicia of production under an FAA production approval to include other documentation the FAA has previously recognized:
    1. For an aircraft part that was accepted into an air carrier’s inventory system as new article, and then subsequently released from that air carrier’s inventory system, a document from the air carrier identifying the part by part number, and by serial number where appropriate, and identifying the part as new (including new surplus); or
    2. A maintenance release document showing (i) that the part was inspected under 14 C.F.R. Part 43 by a person authorized to approve such work for return to service, (ii) that the part was found to be in new condition, and (iii) a part number that matches a number known to be a PAH part number, and that matches the part number on the part, where applicable.

These proposed expansions reflect the fact that the November 1, 2016 receipt date appeared wholly arbitrary and neither supported nor required by any regulatory basis, and that the two additional forms of documentation are commonly accepted in the industry under Part 21 of the regulations.  This would solve the problem of those parts that are currently still being received without tags (as they continue to be released from PAH’s who do not issue tags, or as new surplus from air carriers without tags) and those parts that currently have PAH documentation but are nonetheless excluded under the terms of the current program.

ASA appreciates the FAA’s collaborative efforts to work with us to extend the DAR-56 program as we work toward a permanent solution to the MAG 6 8130-3 tag issue.  We will keep our members updated as we hear more from the FAA.

 

FUNCTION CODE 56 UPDATE: Airline Sourcing is OK; but PAH Trace Must be Established

Recent confusion about the use of function code 56 has caused some consternation in the industry.  The focus of this issue has been on parts obtained from air carriers (which represents a significant portion of the industry’s surplus parts).

The issue arose from an FAA email that incorrectly stated that articles obtained from an air carrier were ineligible for 8130-3.  This was not a correct statement, and the FAA is planning to issue a follow-up email to correct this statement.

Our FAA contacts says that they have seen at least one case where Limited DAR-F’s are issuing 8130-3 tags for parts that were not traceable to a PAH in accordance with the criteria FAA established in the DAR 56 policy memo of October 14, 2016.  The FAA reports that a function code 56 designee had issued tags based solely on paperwork from an airline, in the absence of paperwork or markings from the PAH. While some DAR function codes permit reliance on air carrier evidence (e.g. to identify new surplus parts), function code 56 does not permit that to be the sole basis of an airworthiness decision.

Recently the FAA sent an email to the entire Limited DAR-F community to warn them about this issue.  The intent of the email was to make it clear that the paperwork or the physical part markings had to be traceable to a PAH in order to issue an 8130-3 tag under DAR function code 56.

The recent emailed guidance suggested that function code 56 does not allow 8130-3 tags for articles from Part 121 air carriers.  This description was not an accurate portrayal of FAA policy, because the statement was truncated.  We have discussed this matter with Scott Geddie, who heads up designee policy for the FAA, and he confirmed that the correct statement should have looked like this:

This program DOES NOT allow issuance of an 8130-3 tag for:

….

  • Parts or articles obtained from an FAA Part 121 air carrier, unless proper documentation exists from the PAH or there are part markings traceable to the PAH

The italicized text (above) was not in the original FAA email, but the FAA has pledged to send a follow-up email with the italicized text, and has confirmed that italicized text represents the intent of the FAA.

For comparison purposes, the original October 14, 2016 policy memo makes the function code 56 requirements very clear.  To issue an 8130-3 under function code 56, you need one of the following:

  1. Certificate of Conformity/Statement of Conformity from a Production Approval Holder (PAH); or
  2. Certificate of Conformity/Statement of Conformity or shipping document from a PAH supplier with verification of direct ship authorization; or
  3. Part Markings made under 14 C.F.R. § 45.15.

If you have other evidence of airworthiness (like valid air carrier trace), then an 8130-3 may still be issued – but it must be issued by a DAR with a different function code.

“Last Certificated Agency” on Spec 106: What does it Mean?

One of ASA’s members wrote to me with a Spec 106 question.  It is a question that I have heard before.  At its root, the question is, “What does block 13C on the ATA Spec 106 form (“Last Certificated Agency”) mean and whose name do we put into that block?”

In this case, a distributor was planning on purchasing aircraft parts from a non-US air carrier.  The carrier in question is a foreign regional carrier (FRC) with no Part 129 certification from the FAA.  The distributor was wondering whether the FRC could be “Last Certified Agency” of Block 13C of their ATA-106?  The answer to that question depends on whether the FCC has performed a maintenance activity on the part.

The Spec 106 instructions for block 13C very simply say:

“Name the last certificated agency and its certificate number who last performed maintenance on the part.”

Although this sentence likely anticipated FAA-certificated agencies (because it was written over 20 years ago by US air carrier representatives), that limitation is not specified in the instructions.

Something that is specified in the instructions is that suppliers of surplus parts that have been inspected shall include a document from a FAA 121, 135, 129 or 145 certificate holder indicating condition.  This would be in addition to the Spec 106 form.  This is not a regulatory requirement, but it is a requirement of the specification in section 3-7, and it shows us what was considered appropriate when the specification was developed.

Back to our fact pattern; the distributor indicated that the FRC employs certified inspectors.  These inspectors perform inspection at the time of receipt (receiving inspection) and issue documentation stating that the part is considered airworthy.   Inspection is typically considered a maintenance activity that must be reflected in an approval for return to service or other maintenance release.  Typically receiving inspections are not considered to be maintenance activities in their own right, but are part of the maintenance organization’s activities.  But if receiving inspection is treated as a separate maintenance activity in this FRC, and receiving inspection is documented as such, then this activity coul dbe a maintenance activity performed by a certificated agency.

So now we have to look at what kind fo parts are being transacted in this case.

If the parts are new parts that are surplus to the FRC’s needs, then the inspectors could inspect them to new condition, issue appropriate approval for return to service verifying that the parts have been inspected to new condition, and then the Spec 106 form could list the FRC as the last certified agency in block 13C.  This may be subject to the same section 3-7 caveat mentioned above if the parts are received by a company with a Spec-106 compliance receiving inspection system.  But the idea of issuing an air carrier approval for return to service is not a new one.  Northwest Airlines used to issue 8130-3 tags for their surplus parts indicating that the parts had been inspected to verify the condition in which they were sold.  For new surplus parts, this meant that their new, unused, status has been confirmed.  An FRC could use whatever maintenance release form they typically use (such as the ANAC SEGVOO-003, CAAC AAC-038, EASA Form One, TCCA Form One, etc.) in order to document the inspection.  They should be careful to describe what inspection was performed in the remarks block of the maintenance release form.

But what if we are talking about parts in ‘as removed’ condition?  In such a case, the FRC could still be the last certificated agency if it performed an activity like an inspection.  For example, a post-removal inspection that verifies atht the part is unairworthy could be a maintenance activity.  In this case the activity would be the inspection, and the unserviceable tag could be the record of the work performed (to meet this requirement, it typically needs to state what work was performed, e.g. the inspection).

Just because the part is not serviceable does not negate the fact that an inspection was performed and documented.  But of course, the FRC must have appropriate maintenance capabilities to perform the inspection in question – if they do not (e.g. because all of their maintenance work is performed by contractors) then their ‘inspection’ might represent unauthorized maintenance – in such a case the maintenance contractor might the appropriate party to perform and document the inspection in question.  In that situation, the maintenance contractor may be the last certificated party.

OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT

One of the issues with the Spec 106 form is that the instruction set is not very well suited to non-US operations (it was written for A4A in the 1990s).  IN today’s industry, global operations and global sources fo supply have become the norm.

ASA is currently working on proposed revisions to spec 106.  we have formed a subcommittee from among our Quality Assurance Committee and that group has been working on proposed changes.

Our work plan, which we’ve coordinated with IATA and A4A, is that we will next share our proposals with IATA and then ASA and IATA intend to jointly present a set of proposed changes to A4A.  Because the ATA specifications belong to A4A, A4A is the final arbiter of any changes to ATA Spec 106.

If you have any interest in participating in this process, then please let ASA know; we are currently working on this project, and plan to have our proposals ready quite soon.  We will be briefing the Quality Assurance Committee on progress at the Annual Conference in July, so we would appreciate your input NOW to make sure it is included in the ASA proposal.

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