Does a Dual-Certificated Part 145 Repair Station Need Documentation for Parts, or Can It Inspect Them, Prior to Installation?

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 “Concerning USED replacement parts intended to be fitted to an engine during the maintenance process, does EASA expect every single one of those items installed during the maintenance process to have a dual-release 8130-3, dual-release TC Form One, or dual/tri-release EASA Form one with it assuming it is not a standard part?  (Reference item 10, Section B, Appendix 1 from US-EU Mag, Chang 6)”

ANSWER: The short answer is that a dual-certificated (part 145) repair station in the US generally need specified documentation for used parts intended to be fitted during maintenance, BUT such a repair station can accept a part without the specified documentation if it inspects the part under FAA Notice 8900.429.

First of all, the reader should note that MAG 6 is DIFFERENT from the EASA regulations and therefore an answer under MAG 6 might be different from the answer to a similar question posed purely under EASA regulations.

MAG 6 explains that when a repair station wants to install used components, those components must meet the following conditions before they are fitted during maintenance:

  • Must be in a satisfactory condition for installation;
  • Must be eligible for installation as stated in the PAH parts catalogue or aviation authority (AA) approval document (like a FAA-PMA supplement);
  • Must include one of these authorized release documents (as a maintenance release for a used component) from an appropriately rated maintenance facility:
    • FAA Form 8130-3 from EASA-approved U.S.-based 14 CFR part 145 repair stations;
    • EASA Form 1 from EASA Part-145 approved maintenance organizations not located in the U.S.
    • Canadian Form 1 from a Canadian EASA-approved maintenance organization;
  • In the case of life limited parts, the life used must be appropriately documented.

The FAA recognized that there are significant problems with this language.  It simply doesn’t cover all of the normal situations typically found in the industry.  So the FAA issued FAA Notice 8900.380 (which expired in 2017), followed by FAA Notice 8900.429 (which effectively extended the policy published in Notice 8900.380).  Each of these Notices permits new and used parts to be inspected by a properly rated repair station (notwithstanding the apparent limitations of MAG 6).  The repair station should have appropriate inspection criteria for conducting the inspection.

FAA Notice 8900.429 will expire August 8, 2018, and is expected to be encompassed in permanent guidance before that date.  If this Notice has not been replaced by appropriate guidance by next summer, then ASA will likely petition to have a third Notice issued in order to protect the industry’s ability to accept and use airworthy parts.

So, in summary, a dual-certificated repair station in the U.S. (and subject to MAG 6) receiving used components that are intended to be fitted during maintenance must either (1) receive them with an appropriate 8130-3, EASA Form 1 or TCCA Form 1, or (2) perform an inspection of the parts and find them eligible for installation.

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ICA Guidance Open for Comment

The FAA has released for comment two guidance documents pertaining to Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA): Draft FAA Order 8110.54B and Draft Advisory Circular 20-ICA. ICA availability is an issue that has a direct effect on repair stations and distributors, and ASA has done a significant amount of work to ensure that ICA are available and accurate in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations.

Draft Order 8110.54B is guidance directed at FAA personnel and persons responsible for administering the requirements for ICA.  Among other changes, the draft reorganizes the Order to reflect material moved to AC 20-ICA (below), and importantly incorporates guidance implementing the FAA’s Policy Statement PS-AIR-21.50.01, Type Design Approval Holder Inappropriate Restrictions on the Use and Availability of Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.  ASA has been supportive of the FAA in the adoption that Policy Statement that is intended to protect the industry from anti-competitive ICA restrictions.

Draft AC 20-ICA is a new Advisory Circular that removes industry-specific guidance from the internal FAA Order and places it in a stand-alone AC.  This effort is similar to the FAA’s actions in revising other Orders, which are directed to FAA employees, and removing guidance that is actually intended to be directed outward toward industry and properly placing it in an Advisory Circular.  Like Draft Order 8110.54B, the draft AC implements the FAA policy on ICA established in the Policy Statement.  The proposed AC provides guidance to design approval holders (DAH) and design approval applicants for developing and distributing ICA.

Not only does the availability of ICA directly effect repair stations, the availability of parts lists that are included as a part of the ICA is an important issue for the supplier community.

After a preliminary review these documents appear to offer very positive guidance for the aviation maintenance and distribution industries.  ASA will be reviewing both of these documents closely and offering comments and support for these policies to the FAA.  We encourage repair stations and distributors to review both documents as well.

Comments on both guidance documents must be submitted by October 6, 2015, and may be submitted to the FAA via email to 9-AVS-ICA@faa.gov.  If you have comments or observations that you feel ASA should include in its comments to the FAA, email them to Ryan Aggergaard at ryan@washingtonaviation.com so the we can include them.

No, Aircraft Disassembly is Not a Maintenance Activity Under the FAA Regulations

Many ASA members have entered the exciting world of aircraft disassembly.  A member recently reported that he has encountered some customers who believe that aircraft disassembly can only be performed by a repair station under FAA regulations. This belief is untrue.

Part 43 of the FAA’s regulations requires that alteration, rebuilding, maintenance, and preventative maintenance be performed only by parties authorized to do so under the regulations. 14 C.F.R. § 43.3(a). Other functions that are not specifically regulated by the FAA remain unregulated functions.

Aircraft Disassembly is Not Regulated Under Part 43 nor Part 145

It should be obvious that disassembly of an aircraft does not constitute alteration or rebuilding. But could it be a maintenance or preventative maintenance task?

Maintenance is defined in the regulations to be “inspection, overhaul, repair, preservation, and the replacement of parts….” 14 C.F.R. § 1.1 (definition of “maintenance”). This definition also specifically excludes preventive maintenance, which is defined separately.

Aircraft disassembly is different from inspection, overhaul, repair, preservation, and the replacement of parts, so aircraft disassembly is not a species of maintenance under U.S. law.

Preventative maintenance is defined in the regulations to mean “simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts not involving complex assembly operations.” 14 C.F.R. § 1.1 (definition of “preventative maintenance”). This definition is further refined in Appendix A to Part 43. That appendix limits the scope of preventive maintenance only to certain listed functions (this is explicitly described as a limitation so it cannot expand the definition of preventative maintenance). It clarifies that the removal, installation and repair of landing gear tires is a preventative maintenance function (but this only applies in the context of simple or minor preservation operations, and disassembly alone is not a preservation operation). So removal, alone, without any effort to preserve, is not a preventative maintenance function.

Aircraft disassembly is neither a preservation operations nor the replacement of small standard parts, so aircraft disassembly is not a species of preventative maintenance under U.S. law.

Whereas aircraft disassembly is neither alteration, rebuilding, maintenance, nor preventative maintenance, it is not regulated under Part 43, and therefore is not one of the functions reserved to only certain certificate holders,

Thus, it is clear that the FAA Part 43 regulations (and by extension the Part 145 regulations) do not apply to disassembly of aircraft.

The unregulated nature of disassembly is one of the reasons that the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association AFRA) stepped in and offered their Best Management Practices (BMP) for disassembly of aircraft in order to encourage practices designed to preserve airworthiness as well as to guard the environment.  The AFRA BMP provides guidance, and the AFRA auditing program supports compliance to the standard.

This does not mean that repair stations are prevented from disassembling aircraft for their parts. Because this is an unregulated function, repair stations may also perform the disassembly function if they wish.

No Obligation Imposed by Advisory Circular

Some have taken text in FAA’s AC 20-62 out of context and suggested that it might impose restrictions on removal of parts. The text in question (take alone and out of context) states: “Parts with removal records showing traceability to a U.S. certificated aircraft, signed by an appropriately certificated person.” But look at this text in its full context and you see a different picture:

8. INFORMATION RELEVANT TO USED PARTS. The following information may be useful when assessing maintenance records and part status.

d. Seller’s Designation. The seller may be able to provide documentation that shows traceability to an FAA-approved manufacturing procedure for one of the following:

(1) Parts produced by an FAA-PAH by TC, PC, PMA, TSOA.

(2) Parts produced by a foreign manufacturer (in accordance with part 21 subpart N).

(3) Standard parts produced by a named manufacturer.

(4) Parts distributed with direct ship authority.

(5) Parts produced, for the work being accomplished, by a repair station to accomplish a repair or alteration on a specific TC’d product.

(6) Parts produced by an owner or operator for installation on the owner’s or operator’s aircraft (i.e., by a certificated air carrier).

(7) Parts with removal records showing traceability to a U.S. certificated aircraft, signed by an appropriately certificated person.”

Eligibility, Quality, and Identification of Aeronautical Replacement Parts, FAA AC 20-62E, para 8(d) (December 23, 2010).

In its full context, it is obvious that this text is just one of a list of types of parts that are considered acceptable. Most parts removed from aircraft that are intended for reuse will fit into category one (TC, PC, PMA, TSOA), and therefore the analysis will never get to category seven. That category exists for articles that do not fit within one of the first six categories.  Note also that this text harkens back to the time when it was assumed that any part removed from an aircraft was a good part – modern practice recognizes that mistakes are made at installation and therefore modern disassembly procedure scrutinizes each part and its records to properly identify it without making unsubstantiated assumptions.

Further, the FAA does not have any removal record, and has no regulations reflecting removal records. For this reason, no certificate is necessary in order to sign a removal record.

 

Repair Station Security Rule is Finally Here!

The long-awaited Repair Station Security rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday.

The rules are authorized under the repair station security statute (49 U.S.C. 44924). That statute barred the FAA from certifying any new foreign repair station until TSA security audits are completed for existing stations.  Now that the rules are out, once TSA has audited all existing repair stations, the FAA may be able to once again start issuing foreign repair station certificates.

The final rule contains the following requirements:

  • To Whom Does this Apply?: The regulations apply to repair stations certificated by the FAA under Part 145, except repair stations located on a U.S. or foreign government military base.  All repair stations are subject to inspection as provided in the rule and to Security Directives should there be a security need. However, the rule text requires only certain repair stations, discussed below, to carry out security measures on a regular basis.
  • TSA Inspection Authority. Repair stations must allow TSA and other authorized DHS officials to enter, conduct inspections, and view and copy records as needed to carry out TSA’s security-related statutory and regulatory responsibilities. For repair stations not required to carry out security measures on a regular basis (i.e., those repair stations not located on or adjacent to an airport), TSA does not intend to inspect such facilities, except (1) for compliance with security directives issued by TSA and with airport security programs required by TSA (for those repair stations that are included in an airport security program), and (2) to respond to security information provided to TSA by U.S. or foreign government entities.
  • Implementation of Security Measures: The security measures in this rule cover repair stations that are on or adjacent to certain airports. TSA will consider a repair station to be “on airport” if it is on an air operations area (AOA) or security identification display area (SIDA) of an airport covered by an airport security program under 49 C.F.R. part 1542 in the United States, or on the security restricted area any commensurate airport outside the United States regulated by a government entity.   TSA will consider a repair station to be adjacent to an airport if there is an access point between the repair station and the airport of sufficient size to allow the movement of large aircraft between the repair station and the area described as “on airport.”
  • What are “Security Measures?”: Repair stations required to implement “security measures’ will be required to (1) designate a point of contact(s) to carry out specified responsibilities; (2) prevent the unauthorized operation of large aircraft capable of flight that are left unattended; (3) verify background information of those individuals who are designated as the TSA point(s) of contact; and (4) verify background information of those individuals who have access to any keys or other means used to prevent the unauthorized operation of large aircraft capable of flight that are left unattended.
  • Security Directives: Repair stations are required to comply with Security Directives (SDs) issued by TSA.  We had objected to Security Directives to the extent that they could represent rulemaking activities promulgated in the absence of notice and comment rulemaking procedures.  TSA has added language to the final rule to clarify that repair stations may comment on SDs issued by TSA, but TSA has imposed on itself no obligation to respond to such comments.  Thus, we remain concerned that Security Directives could be used to promulgate new rules in circumvention of the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • Notification of Deficiencies; Suspension of Certificate and Review Process: The regulations describe the process whereby TSA will notify the repair station and the FAA of a security deficiency identified by TSA and provide an opportunity for the repair station to obtain review of a determination by TSA to suspend its operating certification.  Such a suspension would be an immediately-effective suspension that would not be stayed through petition for review (note that 49 U.S.C. 44924(c) already requires the FAA to suspend or revoke a certificate upon the advice of TSA).  This could give TSA tremendous power to impose interpretations of their standards that may be beyond the published scope of the rule, and the repair station may be largely powerless to seek review of those standards, because the only practical way to seek review is to be accept suspension during the entire period of the review process (TSA is allowed to grant itself an extension so the time limits on TSA action may be meaningless).  TSA would perform an internal review of the petition for review and would create the record but then the matter would be subject to review by a Court of Appeals.
  • Immediate Risk to Security; Revocation of Certificate and Review Process: The regulations specify that when TSA determines a repair station poses an immediate risk to security, TSA will notify the repair station and the FAA that the certificate must be revoked. The regulations also provide the process for the repair station to obtain review of such a determination.  Many of the same concerns regarding suspension apply to the revocation process as well.

The new rule can be found online at http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102873717486-941/TSA+Security+Rule+Published.pdf.

Comments Filed at Home and Abroad

ASA continues to work diligently to promote and promote and protect its members’ interests both at home and abroad. In the past month ASA has filed comments on a proposed rule change by NASA, as well as a Notice of Proposed Amendment with EASA.

On June 17, ASA filed comments with NASA regarding the proposed definition of “counterfeit goods” detailed in the proposed “NASA FAR Supplement Regulatory Review No. 1.”  The issue of counterfeit goods in aerospace and received a significant amount of attention in recent years.  As we have explained previously, efforts by Congress and the Administration to curtail the presence of counterfeit parts in the supply chain has the potential to impose significant burdens on distributors.

One way to mitigate that burden is to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is—and more importantly, what is not—a counterfeit good.  ASA is working hard on multiple fronts to ensure that the definition of a counterfeit part remains concise, narrow, and legally accurate, to avoid imposing unnecessary and unhelpful burdens on the industry.

ASA also offered comments on EASA’s recent Part 145 NPA.  The objective of the sweeping NPA is to incorporate SMS principles into Part 145, and the proposed changes have the potential to touch not only repair stations, but also distributors and manufacturers.  ASA made numerous suggestions related to the various proposals in the hopes of assisting EASA in order to assist in a more gradual incorporation of these changes, as well as to address proposals that appeared to fall outside the scope of SMS.

ASA looks forward to working with these agencies to craft regulations that promote safety and benefit the industry.

 

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.

References:

Proposed Part 145 Could Eliminate Spot Repairs and Increase the Cost of Many Repairs

There are a number of problems with the FAA’s proposed revisions to the repair station rules.  One of those problems is that it could essentially do away with spot repairs.  As a matter of practice, it could require repair stations to overhaul parts every time they get them.  The reason for this is because of a subtle change in the quality system rules.

The current rule for those performing repairs is that they must ensure that the work performed is done correctly.  See 14 C.F.R. 43.9(a)(4) (signature constitutes approval for return to service only for the work performed).  But if their workscope does not encompass a finding of airworthiness for the entire article, then they do not need to also verify the airworthiness of the entire article.

I once represented a repair station that was asked to perform a simple alteration to a helicopter.  In their due diligence, they discovered that an AD was necessary for the rotorcraft.  When they called the owner, though, the owner said that they already had a contract with another repair station to have the AD work performed.  As a matter of their own due diligence and good record-keeping, they made a note that they had communicated to the owner that additional AD work was necessary before the rotorcraft flew.  An FAA inspector saw this note and brought an enforcement action against the repair station for failing to ensure that the entire rotorcraft was airworthy.  We were able to quickly get the enforcement action dismissed because the approval for return to service was limited only to the work accomplished, and not the work that was not described.  But this illustrates the issue –

Proposed 145.1211(a) would impose a burden on the repair station’s quality system to ensure the airworthiness of each article on which the repair station works.  Although based on existing quality system language, it could preclude spot repairs, and essentially require an overhaul in every component repair situation, in order to be able to ensure the airworthiness of the article.

§ 145.1211 Quality control system.

(a) A certificated repair station must establish and maintain a quality control system acceptable to the FAA that ensures the airworthiness of the articles on which the repair station or any of its contractors performs maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations.

Let’s look at this from a practical point of view.  A distributor has an overhauled avionics unit in their inventory.  The OEM issues a software upgrade.  The distributor wants to send the unit to a local avionics repair station for the sole purpose of installing the software upgrade.  The distributor does not want to pay for a complete overhaul of the unit, and a complete overhaul of the unit is not necessary.  But the local repair station performing the software upgrade would not be able to ensure the airworthiness of the component without performing a complete overhaul.  At first glance, this seems foolish, and some people might ask “why can’t the repair station simply rely on the approval for return to service from the earlier overhaul?”  The repair station is responsible for making its own findings.  The repair station is not automatically allowed to rely on the earlier approval for return to service because that sort of reliance would reflect a form of subcontracting (which is not permitted unless the task was approved in their subcontracting task list (14 C.F.R. 217(a)(1)) and the vendor is listed in their approved maintenance subcontracting vendor list (14 C.F.R. 217(a)(2))).

The proposed rule can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-21/pdf/2012-11984.pdf

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