EASA 145 outside the EU: New Guidance Open for Comment

The European Aviation Safety Agency has issued for comment a Notice of Proposed Amendment, NPA 2013-12, that is meant to clarify the process of issuing Part-145 approvals to maintenance organizations outside of EASA’s Member States.  The guidance is targeted at both base and line maintenance organizations, and as such has the potential to affect anyone who holds EASA Part-145 certificates for such organizations, as well as distributors doing business with those organizations.

The stated purpose of the NPA is to provide and update Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) to address inconsistencies that have arisen when the EASA acts as a competent authority for Part-145 organizations located outside of Member States.  Some of the amendments will also touch maintenance organizations within Member States.  Organizations that perform maintenance on aircraft (or components) registered in a Member State or used by an operator overseen by a Member State must be approved in accordance with Part-145 (also known as Annex II).

One area targeted for clarification is AMC 145.A.30.(d) addressing personnel requirements.  The new proposal reiterates the importance of having adequate personnel to perform an organization’s planned scope of work. However, the proposed new language seems vague and unhelpful in terms of providing useful compliance guidance:

The objective of this provision is to ensure the stability of the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145 in order to perform their planned scope of work.

If most of the staff were contracted, the organisation which employs those persons may decide to remove them from the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145 and relocate them to another organisation if, for example, there is a better offer. In such a case, the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145 would suffer a sudden and very significant reduction of the workforce until they are able to recruit new staff, with the corresponding negative effect on its activities.

However, if most of the staff are employed by the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145, the risk of this happening is much lower.

Nevertheless, there are cases where a percentage higher than 50 % contracted staff may not negatively affect the stability of the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145 and could be allowed by the competent authority. This may be the case where the maintenance personnel are employed by a parent company of the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145.

Such language does not provide guidance (in fact it appears somewhat contradictory) but rather presents hypothetical scenarios that are commercial in nature and should be addressed by the organizations themselves, not by regulators.

The NPA also provides new guidance pertaining to the qualification of certifying staff at facilities registered in non-Member States.

Certification of maintenance performed on aircraft is another area that is clarified.  The new guidance explains that the requirements apply only to aircraft covered by the Basic Regulation, and specifically lists those to which it does not apply:

  • aircraft carrying out military, customs, police, search and rescue, firefighting, coastguard or similar activites or services;
  • aircraft listed in Annex II of the Basic Regulation;
  • aircraft registered in a non-Member State and not being used by a Community operator;
  • aircraft for which the regulatory safety oversight has been transferred to a non-Member State and which are not used by a Community operator.

Such clarifications are helpful in establishing which regulations govern certification of maintenance performed on the aircraft.  The proposed change also helpfully clarifies that for engines, propellers, and other components, an EASA Form 1 may generally be issued due to the fact that the next aircraft on which the part will be installed is often unknown.

The NPA also adds a new AMC describing a proper corrective action plan to perform a root cause analysis of Level 1 findings- those findings of non-compliance that are a serious hazard to flight safety.

Finally, the proposed amendment makes small changes to guidance related to initial approvals, changes, and revocations, suspensions and limitations.

As with all NPAs, these changes warrant a close review and comment to ensure your business is protected.  Comments for this NPA may be submitted through EASA’s Comment-Response Tool (CRT) at http://hub.easa.europa.eu/crt/, and please share your comments with ASA as well.  Comments are due October 11, 2013.

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European SMS Proposal Will Likely Affect Distributors

An EASA safety management proposal has become a vehicle for a long list of changes to the EASA regulations – changes that could impact aircraft parts distributors all over the world.

EASA has issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) that would integrate Safety Management Systems (SMS) into Part 145 maintenance organizations.  This NPA would represent a significant change to the language of Part 145.  The introduction to the rule change is 42 pages long, and the actual rule change is 142 pages long(!)  This rulemaking document is accompanied by a sister document that modifies Part M (continuing airworthiness organizations) and also a third  document that provides an explanation as well as a regulatory impact statement.  That is a total of 432 pages of rulemaking documentation for the integration of SMS into the EASA maintenance and continuing airworthiness regulations.

Despite the length (or perhaps because of it), the rule will bear attention by everyone in the aircraft parts distribution community.  In addition to integration of the traditional SMS elements, some of the areas where there are changes being made that will likely affect aircraft parts distributors include:

  • Standard parts
  • Raw materials and consumable parts
  • Traceability
  • Packaging requirements for parts and labeling requirements for the packaging
  • Control and disposition of unserviceable components
  • Return of data plates and serial numbers (for mutilated parts) to manufacturers

The proposal also appears to impose on Part 145 certain continuing airworthiness obligations that are traditionally delegated to Part M organizations.

EASA has asked for comments using the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT).   The deadline for submission of comments is April 22, 2013.

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