FAA Changes Position On Parts Validation Process

Aircraft on ramp at London Heathrow
Credit: Credit: Depositphotos/rixpix

Paperwork that links a new part to its production approval holder “is a requirement” under the U.S-European Union (EU) aviation safety bilateral, meaning proof inspection and approval by a U.S. repair station will no longer be accepted for parts being installed on EU-registered aircraft, the FAA has determined.

“New articles exported to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system through a U.S. Part 145 repair station with EASA approval (dual certificated) must include Form 8130-3 to meet regulatory responsibility as described” in the latest version of the US-EU agreement, issued 2016, the FAA wrote in a June 1 letter to the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA).

The stance counters previous FAA policy and seemingly renders useless a process that ARSA spearheaded that permits repair stations to inspect and validate parts shipped without 8130-3s using commonly accepted regulatory authority.  

The issue links to bilateral guidance requirements that a new part being used on an aircraft that the agreement covers be traceable to the production approval holder (PAH). Usually, this is done with an 8130-3 airworthiness approval form, or tag. But many new parts shipped to repair stations do not come with one, nor are they required to under U.S regulations. For any of the 1,440 U.S-based, EASA-certified shops installing parts on EU-registered aircraft, this combined with the new guidance presented a problem.

ARSA, citing repair stations’ authority to inspect and tests parts to determine whether they are airworthy, got to work on an alternative. After consulting with the FAA, EASA and industry, the E100 New Article Inspection Form was developed.

The FAA in a September 2016 letter to ARSA said the E100 is an acceptable means of compliance for the new parts-documentation needs. EASA said it prefers the 8130, but said it would defer to the FAA.  

For several years, the issue seemed solved. In recent months, however, both FAA and EASA inspectors began pushing back against E100s, prompting ARSA to ask the FAA to reiterate its earlier stance. Instead, the agency flipped its position.

“At this time, the FAA and EASA will not accept form E100 as a means to meet the requirements for the release of new parts,” the agency wrote.

Adding to repair stations’ challenge: the agency is not expected to order PAHs to ship parts with 8130-3s, ARSA said.  

"Despite best efforts to convince the FAA it could stand behind its own regulations allowing a repair station to perform maintenance to identify an article and its condition and issue an approval for return to service for that work, the agency capitulated to EASA and removed its support of the ARSA-developed E-100 form,” the association said. "The latest FAA letter contradicts the 2016 letter from the manager of the Aircraft Maintenance Division as well as an earlier letter issued by the Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service."

The group will continue to press the issue, seeking application of applicable regulations or, in the absence of regulatory justification, removal of the requirement.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.