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.
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Unapproved Parts Notice – Rescinded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The FAA has formally rescinded that UPN.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

 

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.

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!

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.

 

FAA Guidance on Approval for Return to Service (Right-Side-Signed 8130-3 Tags) – Comment Period Extended

The FAA has issued a draft guidance document for 8130-3 tags when the tags are completed as Approvals for Return to Service (ARTS).

The draft guidance is currently known as AC 43-ARTS, Use of FAA Form 8130-3 for Approval for Return to Service Under Part 43, and can be found online at

https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/media/afs/AC-43-ARTS_Coord_Copy.pdf.

The draft guidance may impose new standards with inadequate regulatory basis.

The purpose of the new guidance is to provide guidance for compliance with the approval for return to service requirements found in part 43; but it seems to impose new requirements that are not found in Part 43.  The draft guidance also suggests that one may not use an 8130-3 tag as the ARTS unless the person follows the AC; this would make the AC a de facto regulatory requirement in light of the strong emphasis that the FAA has placed on the use of the 8130-3 tag as the norm for approval for return to service.

The draft guidance also requires following the standards published in AC 120-78 as a condition of being permitted to use electronic 8130-3 tags.  This mandate contradicts AC 120-78 which made those standards voluntary/advisory.

Comments were previously due on March 13.  ASA joined with several other trade associations to request an extension, and now the comment period has been extended to June 12, 2017.

The draft advisory circular is available for review online at https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/media/afs/AC_43-ARTS_Coord_Copy.pdf.  Comments should be submitted by email to Griffin.CTR.Moar@FAA.gov.  Please send a copy of your comments to ASA so we can be sure to echo our members’ concerns.

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