Source of Parts for Repair Stations – Does it Matter?

An ASA member recently asked us to answer a MAG 6 question.  MAG 6 refers to revision 6 of the Maintenance Annex Guidance between the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

QUESTION: The ASA member (a dual-certificated repair stations subject to the MAG 6 requirements) asked:

We are an FAA and EASA dual-certificated repair station.  We would like to install a part.  Does it matter if the part was procured from outside sources or the replacement part comes from our own shelf and we perform the required inspections in house?

ANSWER: The first question is ‘how and when did the part enter your system?’  Remember that MAG 6 grandfathered parts that were already in a repair station’s inventory.  The relevant language from MAG 6 states:

“New parts that were received into inventory prior to October 1, 2016 must, at a minimum, have a document or statement (containing the same technical information as an FAA Form 8130-3) issued by the PAH or supplier with direct ship authority. These parts in inventory, documented with the required information, will be grandfathered and remain suitable for installation into EU articles, provided the certification/release date of these parts is prior to October 1, 2016.”

So if the parts were new, received into the repair station’s inventory prior to October 1, 2016, and had the requisite documentation, then they are acceptable for use.  If they did not have the requisite documentation (described above) when they were received into the repair station’s inventory, then you may need to inspect them for airworthiness before installation, pursuant to the guidance found in FAA Notice 8900.429.  In addition, this grandfathering process did not apply to used parts, so those will also need to be processed appropriately before use.

Ultimately, the second question is going to be “can you make a finding of suitability/airworthiness consistent with the regulations?”

The process you use for identifying the suitability of the part may be different depending on the source.  If you bring in the part from outside, then it must meet the MAG 6 documentation requirements or it must be subject to the FAA Notice 8900.429 inspection provisions.  If the part is selected from an in-house shelf, and was not brought in through your standard receiving inspection mechanism (e.g. a part removed by your repair station from a larger component during a tear-down of the new component for the purpose of separating parts needed for overhaul), then you will need to rely on your own internal mechanisms to assure airworthiness.  EASA regulations anticipate this but the MAG does not, which is why Notice 8900.429 was necessary.  In that sense the source of the part does matter (to the extent it drives a particular process that will be used to identify the suitability of the part).

The process you use for identifying the suitability of the part may also differ depending on the nature of the part.  The installer needs to ascertain the airworthiness of the part, so a part that is more likely to have major or catastrophic failure mode is likely to have more airworthiness conditions that need to be checked in order to gauge airworthiness of the part.  On the other hand, a part whose failure could have no safety affect on the aircraft is more likely to be subject to a mere “form, fit and function” check.

In a broad sense, though, it does NOT matter whether you procured the part from outside sources (e.g. with appropriate documentation) or you selected a part from your own shelf and performed appropriate inspections to verify airworthiness (as permitted under FAA Notice 8900.429).  The reason is because in each case, the installer has an obligation to ensure the part meets the prerequisites for being fitted during maintenance, and if it meets those prerequisites then it is eligible to be fitted (and if it fails to meet those prerequisites, then it cannot be fitted no matter the source … until and unless it is maintained to return it to an airworthy condition).

Thus, you can rely on documentation meeting the MAG 6 standards (e.g. documentation described in MAG 6, Section B, Appendix 1, paragraph 10(k)) or you can use the alternative mechanism described in FAA Notice 8900.429.  If the part meets the applicable requirements under either of these standards, and is otherwise airworthy, then it should be eligible to be fitted for maintenance in an appropriate installation.  Even though the way the part was shown to be eligible might have been different, the end result is the same.

If you intend to rely on documentation as part of the process for identifying suitability for installation, then it is a good idea to rely on an AC 00-56 accredited distributor.  AC 00-56 distributors provide a level of documentation that has been found acceptable by the FAA and other aviation authorities, and they are regularly audited for compliance to the AC 00-56 standards.  AC 00-56 accredited distributors can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

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