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.

 

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FAA Extends Policy Patching MAG Tag Challenges

Today the FAA notified ASA that it will extend for another year the MAG policy patch, Notice 8900.380, which allows repair stations to inspect and approve parts for return to service that are not accompanied by the MAG-mandated documentation. The extension technically cancels notice 8900.380 and reissues the policy as Notice 8900.429 (as opposed to literally extending 8900.380).

Although this doesn’t solve all of the problems wrought by MAG 6, it gives distributors and repair stations another year while the FAA works with EASA on a permanent solution to the documentation problems created by MAG 6.

On August 2, ASA spearheaded a petition joined by 12 other industry groups to seek an extension of the policy, which was scheduled to expire on August 26, 2017.  ASA is thankful to have the support of industry in seeking to solve the challenges of MAG 6’s 8130-3 tag requirements, and is appreciative of the FAA’s efforts to work with us.

We previously wrote on the blog about the ways in which notice 8900.380 (now notice 8900.429) helps distributors with un-tagged inventory sell to repair stations by explicitly recognizing repair stations’ right to receive, inspect, and approve for return to service any article for which they are rated.

The inspection authority in the notice still recognizes the original October 1, 2016 date distinguishing between parts already in inventory, and parts received on or after that date, but as we are well beyond 2016, that should not change any procedures or outcomes:

b. Inspections. For the purposes of this notice, inspections may be performed on:
(1) New parts received before October 1, 2016, that are not accompanied by FAA Form 8130-3, a dated certificate of conformance, or similar documentation issued by a U.S. PAH or supplier with direct ship authority in accordance with the notes in the MAG CHG 6, Section B, Appendix 1, subparagraph 10k)(1)(a) and Section C, Appendix 1, subparagraph 7c)(1)(a); and
(2) New parts received on and after October 1, 2016, that are not accompanied by FAA Form 8130-3.

We encourage you to review Notice 8900.429 to re-familiarize yourself with the policy, its requirements, and its limitations.  The notice has a duration of one year and is set to expire August 9, 2018.  It is the expectation of the FAA that this policy will ultimately be incorporated into MAG 7 when that document is ultimately issued.  ASA will continue to work with industry, the FAA, and EASA to craft a permanent and workable solution to this issue.

As the MAG 6 Implementation Date Looms, Repair Stations Adopt MAG 6 Documentation Limits

We have received multiple copies of an email from AAR from a number of ASA members. It is obvious that the letter has just gone out today (based on the number of ASA members forwarding it to us).

The AAR letter concerns “expectations around MAG 6.”  It confirms that AAR’s understanding is that they need FAA 8130-3 or EASA Form One with anything that is not a standard part.  The letter permits no deviations.

AAR is a leading company in the aviation repair station industry so their interpretation of the MAG 6 provisions is quite important.

The FAA issued FAA Notice 8900.380 to temporarily reopen the safety valve that was closed by MAG 6.  It specifically authorizes dual-certificated repair stations in the United States to accept parts without 8130-3/Form One and to inspect the parts to ensure airworthy condition (and then use them).

ASA has expressed concern to the FAA that efforts like FAA Notice 8900.380 could be ineffective because (1) repair stations already submitted their changes months ago at the behest of their PMIs and they may be unable to once again change their systems, and (2) many industry participants view the MAG as operating at a “higher level” than the Notice and therefore discounted the Notice’s effect (right or wrong – this is still a popular industry perception).

There are parts that are necessary to safe operation of aircraft, but that will not have 8130-3 tags, despite the fact that they are susceptible to airworthiness determination under normal FAA Part 43 standards.  Remember – it only takes one small part to interfere with an entire maintenance function.  I fear that firm documentation positions like those expressed by AAR could lead to one of two possible resolutions:

  • Air carriers will have to ground aircraft because the airworthy part does not have an 8130-3 tag (or Form One), and therefore can’t be accepted and installed by the repair station; or,
  • Repair stations will circumvent their own written systems in order to bring in parts without 8130-3 tags, despite language in the system requiring such a tag.

Neither of these options is desirable.  I am afraid that the (B) option will be the one that occurs most in the real world.  I fear that this will occur because the parts are thought to be good and the maintenance needs to be performed.  I am afraid of this occurrence because once companies start circumventing their written systems, those written systems start to lose their integrity.  At a time when the industry and FAA are examining greater reliance on Safety Management Systems, anything that undermines the safety culture of following the company’s written system is detrimental to the future of aviation safety.

Distributors who are supporting dual-certified (FAA/EASA) repair stations should remind those customers that FAA Notice 8900.380 explicitly permits receipt of parts without 8130-3/Form One when the repair station inspects them for airworthiness (as has always been the case); and guidance like FAA Advisory Circular 20-62E still is effective in recommending reliance on other indicia of airworthiness, such a manufacturer’s certificate of conformity.  The Notice is temporary but we are still working with FAA to establish a better resolution to the issues facing the industry.  Ask your affected business partners to ensure that their systems are consistent with FAA Notice 8900.380, and ask them to announce their willingness to accept parts for inspection when those parts bear other indicia of airworthiness.

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