There has been significant hub-bub in the United States over recent changes to the FAA-EASA agreements. The gist of the changes is that US-based dual-certified repair stations must receive a Form One (from the EU or Canada) or an 8130-3 (from the US) for each part/ component in order to be able to use that article in maintenance or alteration activities (there is an exception for parts recognized as standard parts under the bilateral agreement).
The problem is that there are many parts that simply do not get those documents. These are often the least safety-sensitive parts in the system, so they are the parts that shouldn’t be the subject of overly-much bureaucracy (in an ideal society). But under new documentation standards, these parts are exactly the ones that could hold-up an overhaul or other major MRO activity.
In the US, it is the responsibility of the installing repair station to assess the parts and find that they are airworthy at the time of installation. This can be accomplished in reliance on paperwork or in reliance on the results of other investigation designed to assess the airworthiness of the part. In the EU, a ‘safety valve’ in the regulations allows parts without necessary documentation to be described as unserviceable, accepted and segregated, and then inspected to confirm their serviceability.
Recent revisions to the FAA-EASA Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) created a new emphasis on 8130-3 tags. The plain language of the MAG closes the safety valve of the EU regulations. Many FAA inspectors have required repair stations in the US to adopt receiving requirements that only permit receipt of aircraft parts with 8130-3, EASA Form One or TCCA Form One. And repair stations are starting to recognize that they accept more minor parts than they realized without 8130-3 tags. Parts with traditional manufacturer’s certificates of conformity (for example) are excluded from the MAG guidance!
There are several activities that mitigate the effects of the agreement.
One of these steps is to issue a Notice that reopens the safety valve on a temporary basis (until August 26, 2017). This means that today, repair stations are permitted to accept parts without Form One or 8130- 3, inspect them, and then use them if the part is in satisfactory condition. The temporary nature of this Notice causes some concern, but it provides more time to develop more permanent solutions.
What does the inspection consist of? There is an answer available! The Aeronautical Repair Stations Association (ARSA) has designed a comprehensive inspection procedure for assessing the airworthiness of new parts. They call it ‘E100’ and the procedure has been approved by both EASA and the FAA. The E100 procedure is available to members
The FAA has also worked with the Aviation Suppliers Association to create the DAR-56 program. This is a limited program that allows employees of AC 00-56B accredited distributors to obtain DAR privileges to tag certain items in existing inventory. The temporary ability to obtain 8130-3 tags through the DAR-56 program permits some existing inventories of good parts to be tagged in order to meet the new standards created by the Maintenance Annex Guidance.
The program creates a new function code 56 (because of the association with AC 00-56). This is a limited function code for employees of accredited distributors that permits issue of 8130-3 tags for parts with certain types of clear evidence of production under FAA production approval.
An applicant for the DAR-56 program must meet minimum qualifications, including age, employment (must be employed at an FAA-accredited distributor), independence of action, experience and training.
A DAR with Function Code 56 privileges will be able to issue an 8130-3 tag for parts manufactured by an FAA Production Approval Holder (PAH) if the part is documented with a PAH Certificate of Conformity or Statement of Conformity. The DAR can also tag a part if it is identified with part markings made under 14 C.F.R. § 45.15 (this should include PMA markings, TSOA markings and critical part markings). The categories are purposefully limited in order to ensure that the tasks performed by the DAR do not require independent airworthiness analysis.
There are many categories of airworthy parts without 8130-3 tags that will not be covered by this DAR-56 program. The program is not a solution to all of the problems caused by the implementation of the Maintenance Annex Guidance. Many distributors will still need to rely on traditional DARs.
The DAR-56 program is limited in time. All limited DAR-56 appointments under this program will be terminated on September 30, 2017. We have discussed with the FAA that there will be a continuing need for the program, because some FAA-PAH manufacturers continue to produce parts without 8130-3 tags. ASA intends to petition for an extension of the program if it appears that the program remains necessary, but ASA members should not plan on the FAA granting that petition (they have already told us that they will reject such a petition).
The FAA intends that this DAR-56 program be used to tag existing inventory in order to make it saleable under the new documentation standards of the MAG.
The program is limited so that only new parts with clear evidence of sourcing from the production approval holder will be eligible. This makes the DAR-56 function a mere ministerial task that replaces a certificate of conformity (or other similar evidence) with the now-preferred 8130-3.
The MAG threatened to shut down maintenance by refusing to permit repair stations to use parts on which they have historically relied. Between the FAA Notice and the DAR-56 program, many parts should be acceptable in repair stations.
Repair stations should not be accepting parts that violate the terms of their EASA Supplement or their MOE. Creating ad hoc exceptions undermines the strength of the documented system.
It is important for every repair station to ensure that its receiving inspection parameters (including those found in the EASA Supplement or MOE) reflect the latest guidance. If your receiving inspection parameters are limited only to parts with 8130-3 tags or Form One, then you should check to see whether your receiving inspection parameters are narrower than they need to be. You should also assess whether you are accepting parts without 8130-3 tags or Form One under an ad hoc exception, or whether your system anticipates those articles.
The Aviation Suppliers Association has also appealed the MAG,
as a final order of the FAA. The appeal has been lodged with the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and claims that the documentation requirements of the MAG are unconstitutional and also that they violate several different US laws. Oral argument in that matter is expected in January. The appeal seeks an order enjoining the FAA from enforcing the documentation requirements of the MAG.