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!
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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.

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